Newsroom: Press Releases
Lautenberg Introduces Bills to Protect Communities Near Chemical and Water PlantsLautenberg Press Office, 202-224-3224
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC–Following the release of a new report demonstrating the need for greater chemical security, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced two pieces of legislation that would reduce the risk posed to communities by thousands of chemical, drinking water, and wastewater facilities throughout the United States. Lautenberg's legislation would require plants to assess and develop plans to address their vulnerabilities, and would require the highest-risk facilities to use Inherently Safer Technology (IST) that increases public and environmental safety.
“The risk is great for millions of Americans living in the shadow of the thousands of chemical plants and water treatment facilities across America. These plants provide valuable services, but they also pose significant threats. In New Jersey and our region, more than 12 million people live within proximity of a high-risk plant, and a catastrophic accident or terrorist attack would have devastating consequences,” Senator Lautenberg said. “We need to pass my legislation to require facilities to thoroughly review risk and help us move toward more secure plants and safer communities. Hundreds of plants have already switched to safer and more secure chemicals and processes, and this common-sense legislation would build on these achievements and increase safety nationwide.”
The “Secure Water Facilities Act” and “Secure Chemical Facilities Act” would require changes for the highest-risk facilities, preventing undue burdens on small, low-risk facilities while protecting against the greatest threats. Some of the changes that can be implemented at water and chemical plants include reducing the amount of lethal gases stored on-site or minimizing the use of dangerous chlorine gas.
The two bills would:
The report released yesterday cites data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that finds 12,440 facilities nationwide put people at risk of dangerous chemical exposure in the event of an accident or terrorist attack. In addition, the report examines 12 high-risk sites across the country and finds that low-income and minority communities are disproportionately at risk from chemical releases from these facilities.
According to the report, in New Jersey alone, five chemical plants each threaten the safety of more than one million people. Across the country:
Lautenberg is a long-time advocate for improving chemical security. After the Bush Administration issued regulations in 2007 attempting to preempt state and local governments from adopting stronger chemical security protections, Senator Lautenberg wrote a bill that was signed into law to preserve New Jersey’s strong chemical security laws and allow them and those in other states to be stronger than federal regulations.