Across the United States, over 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities put 39% of the US population (124 million people) who live within three miles of these sites at constant risk of a chemical disaster. The full vulnerability zones for these industrial and commercial sites can extend up to twenty-five miles in radius. Many communities of color and low-income communities face disproportionate risk from these facilities, and often face other health hazards as well, such as high levels of toxic pollution, and higher rates of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19.
But commonsense solutions exist that can prevent chemical disasters and protect workers and communities at the fenceline.
The EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule regulates these 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities nationwide and is currently being updated. Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) are mobilizing a broad coalition of stakeholders to demand a stronger rule that will protect workers and communities, and prevent chemical disasters.
By State Representatives Attica Scott (KY) and Larry Lambert (DE)
"For decades our constituents have lived under the constant threat of explosions or toxic releases in our neighborhoods, never knowing what or when the next disaster will be... This week we joined more than 70 elected officials from 16 states and territories nationwide in writing a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging him to place disaster prevention and environmental justice at the center of an updated rule."
By Pam Nixon (WV)
"Have you ever watched somebody shake a can of soda, and then get ready to crack open the top? You know it’s going to explode, but you don’t know when, or how bad it will be. That’s what it’s like living near a chemical plant. Except the consequences can be deadly. As a lifelong resident of Kanawha County, West Virginia — an area that has been home to dozens of industrial facilities making everything from pesticides to plastics — I know this uncertain feeling all too well."
Data from Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters shows that chemical incidents such as fires, explosions and toxic releases happen every other day in the US.
Louisville, Kentucky. Richmond, California. Charleston, West Virginia. Wilmington, Delaware. Houston, Texas. What do these communities have in common? They have all endured explosions, leaks and spills at chemical plants or chemical storage facilities that have threatened the health and safety of thousands or even millions of people nearby. Who’s in Danger from chemical disasters? Our research shows that the people most at risk live in communities of color and low-income communities.