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Activists criticize chemical terror proposal

August 9, 2002
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Public interest groups are protesting a proposal by U.S. Senator Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) titled the "Community Protection from Chemical Terrorism" bill.

The Working Group on Community Right-to-Know attacks it as a "know nothing, do nothing" idea that would conceal dangerous chemical industry practices while doing nothing to protect communities from chemical terrorism.

Across the country, millions of Americans live within areas where a sudden release of industrial chemicals could cause death or serious injury, according to the group.

The group argues that Bond's bill would:

  • Prevent local citizens from finding out which hazardous chemical facilities put their lives and families at risk.

  • Provide no resources, authority or mandate to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) to reduce chemical hazards at local facilities.

  • Fail to provide a national response to international terrorism, relying instead on LEPC members, who say they lack the resources, time and expertise to engage local facilities in hazard reduction.

  • Add environmental groups to LEPCs, even though this is already law - "local environmental" and "community" organizations have been required on LEPCs since they were founded by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986.

  • Depart from the previous position of the American Chemistry Council, which supported the community's right-to-know about dangers posed by their member companies.

  • Prevent people who volunteer to serve on LEPCs from telling the public about the chemical hazards they are working to address.

  • Do nothing to reduce chemical hazard risks or improve site security.

    Activists claim a vigorous federal program is needed to reduce chemical hazards and improve site security. No federal program currently regulates how many people a chemical plant can endanger in nearby communities.

    Senator Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) is proposing to require industrial plant owners to reduce hazards and improve security in the Chemical Security Act, S.1602. Activists content the Bond bill may be intended to block Corzine's bill.

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