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Greens push EPA & Congress for tighter chemical security

August 2, 2002
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Greenpeace brought a giant "ballot" to EPA and distributed individual "ballots" to EPA employees recently asking them to check the box for chemical security legislation and give them to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

Green groups are pressuring Congress to pass legislation that would provide funds to reduce chemical plant vulnerabilities.

Internal EPA documents show that the agency has flip-flopped on chemical security policy and has still not finalized its response. For ten months EPA has failed to neutralize threats of terrorism at U.S. chemical facilities the way the Washington, D.C. sewer authority did by removing chlorine from their Blue Plains plant within weeks following September 11th, according to The Working Group on Community Right To Know.

According to the group, a secret EPA report issued last February titled, "Lessons Learned in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001," concluded: "EPA has some authority for addressing environmental vulnerabilities, but limited authority to require action." In May, an EPA briefing document said that new legislation is needed because industry safety cannot be assured under current law. But in June, EPA backed off that proposal, saying "EPA is not seeking legislation on chemical security at this time."

EPA has identified 123 chemical facilities that if attacked could threaten a million or more nearby residents, according to The Working Group on Community Right To Know. And the group says the U.S. Army's surgeon general estimates that 2.4 million people could be killed or injured in a terrorist attack at U.S. toxic chemical plant.

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