NJPIRG Calls For Stronger Measures to Prevent Chemical Accidents
In response to recent chemical accidents in New Jersey, Texas, and Louisiana, the New Jersey Public Research Group is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect residents.A study released by the group Tuesday titled, “Danger In Our Backyards: The Threat of Chemical Facilities to Millions,” found just in New Jersey alone, five chemical plants each threaten the safety of more than one million people.
Many potentially dangerous plants produce very non-threatening products. “Everything from oil refineries to companies that make everyday household products like plastics or cleaning solutions, they can also include purification facilities,” said Jen Kim, NJPIRG state director.
The group called on the EPA to take measures allotted to them under the Clean Air Act which allow them to require certain chemical factories to use safer alternatives and safer processing practice whenever possible.
Kim said New Jersey is a center for the chemical industry, and one of the states most at risk for chemical disasters. In fact, there are five plants in the state, including the Paulsboro Refinery in South Jersey and the Kuehne Chemical facility in South Kearny, that have the potential to cause massive danger if a spill occurred.
“We have over seventy people go into the hospital from the Paulsboro spill, over a dozen people were killed in the West, Texas explosion and hundreds more were injured,” said Kim.
President Barack Obama recently issued an Executive Order, directing government agencies to coordinate efforts to improve safety and security at chemical facilities nationwide. Specifically the Executive Order calls for improved coordination among federal, state, and local agencies, and to “modernize policies, regulations and standards” at the nation’s thousands of chemical facilities.
“Thousands of these chemical facilities across the country use hazardous chemicals and we’ve seen the ‘what if’ scenarios in the past couple of months brought to life,” said Kim.