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September 8, 2022EPA proposes changes to chemical disaster prevention rule that looms large in Kanawha Valley

The Environmental Protection Agency has revealed, and is taking public comment on, its revisions to the Risk Management Program rule that requires facilities using hazardous substances to develop programs to prevent and limit releases of chemicals into the environment. The rule looms large in the Kanawha Valley, which has long been called "Chemical Valley" for its disproportionately high number of chemical plants. Maya Nye, federal policy director at Coming Clean, a chemical industry-focused environmental health nonprofit, grew up a mile from Union Carbide's Institute facility and believes that too many of the rule's provisions are voluntary.
"We've just seen in the past that voluntary measures don't work," Nye said. "Voluntary measures are not adequate to protect workers and the public."Nye pointed to a provision that says natural hazards, such as floods, wildfires and extreme temperatures, should be included in chemical facility hazard reviews. The rule should go further, Nye argued, to ensure that facility operators act to guard against natural hazards beyond reviewing the potential for those crises. 


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