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Pennsylvania Legislators Join More than 70 Other Elected Officials Calling on EPA to Prevent Chemical Disasters, Protect Workers and Prioritize Environmental Justice
Letter to EPA Administrator Regan Urges Meaningful Reform of Plan that Manages Over 12,000 Chemical Facilities Nationwide
(January 26, 2022) - A letter was sent today by over 70 elected officials from 16 states and territories, including 14 representing Pennsylvania, to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging meaningful reform of the federal policy that is intended to prevent chemical disasters. Unfortunately, explosions and toxic leaks occur regularly at high-risk chemical facilities, which disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities nationwide, making this a key environmental justice issue.
“The EPA has an important opportunity right now to prioritize environmental justice and stop chemical disasters,” said Representative Mary Jo Daley, Pennsylvania House District 148. “We hope Administrator Regan will do the right thing to protect the health and safety of low-income communities and communities of color across the country by updating the RMP in a meaningful way.”
The letter was also signed by Representatives Donna Bullock, Nancy Guenst, Sara G. Innamorato, Jennifer O'Mara, Danielle Friel Otten, Chris Rabb, Benjamin Sanchez, and Michael Schlossberg, as well as Senators Amanda M. Cappelletti, Carolyn T. Comitta, Maria Collett and Steve Santarsiero, and Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym.
“We and our constituents are unwilling to continue living with the constant threat of chemical disasters that could destroy our neighborhoods, businesses, and communities, when safer chemicals and technologies exist,” reads the letter. “ Injuries, death and disease are not acceptable risks, and our communities are not sacrifice zones.”
The letter centers around the EPA’s Risk Management Plan, or RMP, rule which regulates over 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities nationwide and is currently being updated. Legislators who have signed onto the letter urging meaningful updates to the RMP rule represent a diverse number of states and territories, including Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. The full letter and list of signatories can be seen here.
There are 481 RMP facilities that store, use or produce certain hazardous chemicals in the state of Pennsylvania, which are regulated under the RMP rule. In 2019, there were a series of explosions at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) facility that released 5,239 pounds of flammable hydrofluoric acid, and launched pieces of shrapnel as large as 19 tons across the refinery, injuring five workers. The US Chemical Safety Board is still investigating this incident.
The letter specifically calls for the following measures to be included in the updated RMP:
“Our states, cities, and constituents cannot wait any longer for companies to voluntarily decide to remove these hazards at their convenience,” says the letter. “Chemical incidents can be prevented by incorporating common-sense policies into a strengthened RMP. Many safer chemicals and processes already exist, and more can be developed. What is missing, but urgently needed, are national requirements for transition to safer alternatives whenever possible, and other proven measures that can help prevent disasters.”
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