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May 6, 2022EPA Proposal Too Tepid to Address Dangerous Chemical Spills

Thirty years after it was first required to do so, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally proposed a rule to fill part of a gaping hole in the regulations meant to protect our nation’s waters from chemical spills. As the saying goes, better late than never – except that in this case, EPA’s delay has had severe consequences. For example, Hurricane Harvey, which struck Houston’s dense zone of flood-susceptible facilities storing hazardous substances, caused numerous facilities to release harmful chemicals, harming first responders, the surrounding community, and the environment. A few years earlier, a leak at a chemical storage facility along the Elk River in West Virginia left 300,000 people without drinking water for days. It didn’t need to be this way. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has required EPA to issue regulations requiring industrial facilities that store toxic chemicals near water bodies to take measures to prevent chemical spills. After decades of inaction by EPA, NRDC, the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA), and People Concerned About Chemical Safety sued. Although EPA agreed to issue the required regulations, it unlawfully abdicated its responsibility. 


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