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The Ruse of Terrorism and our Right-To-Know, Part I
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<-- Return To TerrorSpeak
<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

January 16, 2002

The Ruse of Terrorism and our Right-To-Know, Part I
by Michael R. Meuser

Using the threat of terrorism as a tool to undermine our right-to-know is not new. This ruse was employed several years before 911 to prevent full public disclosure of the chemical threat that industrial and government facilities pose in our neigborhoods and communities where we work, live and play.

According to a recent article, The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is now at risk.

The TRI is the flagship of Right-To-Know. It came about as a response to the horrific Union Carbide accident at Bhopal, India in 1984 that killed more than 2,500 people immediately and injured 200,000 more -- the list of those who died subsequent to the accident is still growing. But the TRI did not go far enough.

The TRI tells us about some of the chemicals that are released in our air, to our waterways and on our land by industrial and government facilities, but does not tell us directly the amount of toxic and flammable chemicals stored onsite that have the potential to injure and kill.

The Clean Air Act was to change all this. It required that 66,000+ facilities around the U.S. provide their Risk Management Plans (RMP) to EPA. (Note that by the 1999 deadline only about 25% had filed their reports). EPA posted the RMPs on their website, but the posting did not include the Worst Case Scenario section.

Industry used the ruse of terrorism to convince EPA and the Department of Justice to limit access to the Worst Case Scenarios. Nonetheless the information that was publicly disclosed -- the executive summaries, chemical types and amounts, accident history and prevention programs -- still provided important information that communities could use to begin to learn more about the risks they faced and take steps to mitigate them. Now we no longer have access to this crucial data.

After 911, EPA removed all of this information from their website and many other government agencies have followed, removing thousands of pages of information that was paid for by the American public. Now it appears that the next target of the War on Freedom is the Toxic Release Inventory.

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<-- Return To TerrorSpeak
<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

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