U.S. House Passes Chemical Security Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation to protect American communities from industrial and water facilities that use and store large amounts of highly hazardous chemicals.  The House rejected efforts to gut the bill’s requirement that the most dangerous facilities implement safer technologies.  
The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868) will require thousands of facilities where a toxic release endangers the surrounding community to assess their ability to “reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack” by switching to safer alternative chemicals or processes, and authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Agency to require use of those alternatives at the nation’s most dangerous facilities where feasible and cost-effective. 
 
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one hundred facilities endanger more than a million people in the event of an accident or attack; more than 7000 facilities endanger thousands.  One hundred ten million Americans live in the shadow of catastrophic poison gas release from one of 300 chemical facilities.
Safer and cost-effective alternatives are already in use for many of the most dangerous chemicals. U.S. PIRG’s Needless Risk report documented that two thirds of U.S.oil refineries already use safer alternatives to hydrogen fluoride, a highly toxic and corrosive chemical that forms a heavy toxic plume that can travel for miles. The Center for American Progress has identified nearly three hundred facilities that have converted to safer chemicals and processes in the last decade.    
In case you missed it check out the New York Times article.