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Report tracks high-risk facilities for chemical terrorism (11/20)

November 20, 2008
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More than 80 million U.S. citizens live within range of a worst-case toxic gas cloud from at least one of the nation’s 101 most dangerous chemical facilities, according to a new report described in a press release from the Center for American Progress.

Also at risk are residents living or working along delivery routes — more than 90 percent of these facilities ship or receive their highest-hazard chemical in vulnerable railcars or trucks, according to the report.

“There is tremendous untapped potential to protect American communities from chemical terrorism by investing in safer and more secure technologies,” said Paul Orum, who prepared the report as a consultant to the Center for American Progress. “Since gates and guards may fail, the only certain way to protect communities is to remove the danger with available alternatives.”

According to the report, 30 bleach plants could remove danger to some 50 million Americans by generating chlorine on-site without rail shipment and bulk storage. These plants are found in Phoenix; Glendale, Ariz.; Los Angeles; Ontario, Calif.; Sante Fe Springs, Calif. (2 locations); Jacksonville; Miami (2 locations); Forest Park, Ga.; Denver; Lemont, Ill.; Chicago; Willow Springs, Ill.; Dupo, Ill.; Beech Grove, Ind.; Riverview, Mich.; St. Paul, Minn.; Merrimack, N.H.; South Kearny, N.J.; Henderson, Nev.; Warwick, N.Y.; Barberton, Ohio; Cincinnati; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston (3 locations); and Tacoma, Wash.

According to the report, 15 water utilities could remove danger to 17 million people by converting from chlorine gas (and sometimes sulfur dioxide gas) to alternatives that include liquid bleach or ultraviolet light. These utilities are found in Granada Hills, Calif.; Hialeah, Fla.; Miami; Ft. Lauderdale; Tampa, Fla.; Detroit; Maplewood, Minn.; Nashville; Wylie, Texas; Sunnyvale, Texas; Dallas; Euless, Texas; Grand Prairie, Texas; Houston; and Salt Lake City.

Eight petroleum refineries could remove danger to 11 million Americans by substituting toxic hydrofluoric acid, used in refining crude oil, with sulfuric acid or emerging solid acid catalysts, according to the report. These refineries are found in Channahon, Ill.; Lemont, Ill.; Chalmette, La.; Meraux, La; St. Paul Park, Minn.; Paulsboro, N.J.; Trainer, Pa.; and Philadelphia.

The report also identifies 202 additional high-hazard facilities that could make similar changes. Each of these facilities has some 100,000 or more people living within range of a worst-case toxic gas release (commonly called a “vulnerability zone”)

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