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SENATE BALKS AT FUNDING FOR STUDY OF TERRORISM PREVENTION AT CHEMICAL PLANTS

See Chemical Accident Preparedness Maps.

After using the threat of terrorism to undermine the public's right-to-know about chemical plant hazards, the Congress is now balking at funding a simple study of security at chemical plants.

(Somehow this comes as no surprise.)

Here's what you can do:

After reviewing the Press Release below, ask the Republican's staff on this (for Senator Smith, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee) about funding the study. That's Chris Hessler at 202-224-6176.

For more background see http://www.rtk.net/wcs/site.htm

Paul Orum

*****

Press Release
October 5, 2000

Contacts:
Paul Orum
Working Group on Community Right-to-Know, 202-544-9586
Jeremiah Baumann
U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 202-546-9707

SENATE BALKS AT FUNDING FOR STUDY OF
TERRORISM PREVENTION AT CHEMICAL PLANTS

The U.S. Senate reportedly won’t fund a Department of Justice study of anti-terrorism preparedness at chemical-using industries. Congress authorized the study last year in the Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act. This Act also severely restricted public information on chemical companies’ spill and explosion hazards after the Department of Justice asserted that chemical plants are attractive targets for terrorists.

“The Senate’s inaction confirms that Congress is more interested in protecting the chemical industry than in protecting public safety,” said Paul Orum of the Working Group on Community Right-to-Know, a public interest watchdog organization.

“After blindfolding the public about chemical hazards at the behest of the chemical manufacturers, the Senate is now failing to even fund studies of those same hazards,” said Jeremiah Baumann of U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

The groups questioned why Congress last year restricted the public’s right-to-know but this year won’t fund a study to improve safety at chemical plants.

Environmental, labor, and public health organizations have long advocated for safer technologies that reduce chemical company dangers to workers and communities. Thanks in part to that advocacy, chemical companies were required to prepare ‘worst-case’ chemical accident scenarios under the Clean Air Act of 1990. These scenarios indicate the neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and other vulnerable sites that could fall within the path of an explosion or toxic gas release. A dozen environmental, labor, and public health groups recently called for the Department of Justice to include a serious reduction in chemical hazards in the site security study. (See www.rtk.net/wcs/site.htm)

On August 4, the Department published rules restricting the public’s right-to-know, but had not even started an interim site security report to Congress due on the same date. (The interim report was due to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and to the House Commerce Committee.) The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee received the Department’s request to fund the site security study on March 31, 2000.

“On chemical safety, this looks like a know-nothing, do-nothing Congress – no right-to-know and no action to reduce hazards,” Orum said.

- End -

=====
Working Group on Community Right-to-Know
218 D Street, SE; Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-544-9586; Fax: 202-546-2461

See Chemical Accident Preparedness Maps.

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