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February 26, 2023
In the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, Governor Mike DeWine called on Congress to look into why the rural village didn’t know ahead of time they had volatile chemicals coming through town. “We should know when we have trains carrying hazardous materials through the state of Ohio,” DeWine said at a press conference. This information is out there, but it’s probably not what the governor had in mind. With the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train receiving international attention, more railroad communities are now asking what is traveling through their backyard. Stephanie Herron, a national organizer with the collective Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform said in a statement that neighboring communities refuse to accept these events as a fact of life. “These issues aren’t new to the people who live near hazardous facilities who have been speaking up about the urgent need to transition to safer chemicals to prevent disasters in their communities,“ Herron said. “What’s new is that more people are paying attention.”Read More
February 25, 2023
Mike DeWine, the Ohio governor, recently lamented the toll taken on the residents of East Palestine after the toxic train derailment there, saying “no other community should have to go through this”. But such accidents are happening with striking regularity. A Guardian analysis of data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by non-profit groups that track chemical accidents in the US shows that accidental releases – be they through train derailments, truck crashes, pipeline ruptures or industrial plant leaks and spills – are happening consistently across the country. By one estimate these incidents are occurring, on average, every two days. For Eboni Cochran, a mother and volunteer community activist, the East Palestine disaster has hardly added to her faith in the federal government. Cochran lives with her husband and 16-year-old son roughly 400 miles south of the derailment, near a Louisville, Kentucky, industrial zone along the Ohio River that locals call “Rubbertown.” The area is home to a cluster of chemical manufacturing facilities, and curious odors and concerns about toxic exposures permeate the neighborhoods near the plants.Read More
December 23, 2022
Michele Roberts, 62, has worked in the environmental justice space for more than 20 years. Now she advises the Biden administration as a member of the recently-formed White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, while also serving as national co-coordinator for the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. Now a longtime resident of northeast D.C., Roberts also created a community-based special justice arts program based out of her church in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.Read More
October 25, 2022
Acrid smoke filling barely breathable air. School buildings shaking as students and teachers sheltered in place. First responders fighting fires over multiple days, and at a disadvantage due to the hazardous chemicals present. This was just some of the havoc wrought by three dangerous incidents at chemical facilities that occurred within a two-week span in January 2022, all of which caused significant harm to workers and communities. A timely joint report by Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) analyzes these incidents and uses them as a lens to address the adequacy of the Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) primary regulation intended to prevent chemical disasters. And, as EPA has recently proposed revisions to the RMP rule, Coming Clean and EJHA identify where EPA needs to do better in order to achieve its stated goal: protecting communities and advancing environmental justice.Read More
September 21, 2022
Despite housing millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals, the Passaic chlorine plant that was almost engulfed in a massive fire earlier this year was not required to register its stockpile with the federal government or develop a special safety plan, according to a report released Tuesday by a watchdog group. The Qualco chlorine plant falls outside the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Plan and its most recent revisions designed to prevent chemical disasters like the one that nearly unfolded in January. "A stronger rule is needed to ensure that hazards are removed, or we will continue to see more chemical disasters," said Steve Taylor, a director at Coming Clean, an environmental nonprofit group based in Vermont. Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokesman, confirmed that Qualco is not in the EPA's program because it "does not meet threshold quantities of RMP-regulated substances." Read More
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