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. But these cities are not alone; every day, millions of people live and work in the shadow of high-risk chemical plants that store and use extremely hazardous chemicals. In fact, 124 million people in this country live within three miles of a chemical facility that threatens their lives with a potential chemical disaster. For too long, chemical companies have escaped responsibility for protecting workers and local residents by blocking efforts to prevent these disasters before they happen.
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. What is Life at the Fenceline of chemical facilities like? There’s the constant risk of chemical disasters occurring, there's poverty, there’s limited access to healthy food and there are cancers and respiratory illnesses linked to air pollution.
Fortunately, safer and cost-effective chemicals and processes are widely available. Through the work of Coming Clean and our partners, we're working to develop and implement protective policies which will benefit everyone in the U.S.—and especially the people most vulnerable to chemical disasters.
Along with Coming Clean, the Environmental Justice Health Alliance is working with partner organizations to demand action from the White House, EPA and other federal agencies to save lives, prevent chemical disasters and require chemical companies to switch to safer chemicals and processes whenever feasible. Following a legal settlement with EPA, we’re also pursuing new standards to prevent leaks that contaminate our drinking water from above-ground chemical storage tanks. Our work will help protect the drinking water, air, and even the very lives of millions of people who live near hazardous chemical facilities across the nation.