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Chemical Disaster Prevention Program

A joint project of Coming Clean & the Environmental Justice Health Alliance 

Chemical fires, explosions and toxic releases are shockingly common in the US. Communities of color and low-income communities are most at risk.

Across the United States, over 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities put 39% of the US population (124 million people) who live within three miles of these sites at constant risk of a chemical disaster. The full vulnerability zones for these industrial and commercial sites can extend up to twenty-five miles in radius. Many communities of color and low-income communities face disproportionate risk from these facilities, and often face other health hazards as well, such as high levels of toxic pollution, and higher rates of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19. 

But commonsense solutions exist that can prevent chemical disasters and protect workers and communities at the fenceline.  

The EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule regulates these 12,000 high-risk chemical facilities nationwide and is currently being updated. Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) are mobilizing a broad coalition of stakeholders to demand a stronger rule that will protect workers and communities, and prevent chemical disasters.


Strengthening this one rule could keep frontline communities safe from their toxic neighbors

By State Representatives Attica Scott (KY) and Larry Lambert (DE)

"For decades our constituents have lived under the constant threat of explosions or toxic releases in our neighborhoods, never knowing what or when the next disaster will be... This week we joined more than 70 elected officials from 16 states and territories nationwide in writing a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging him to place disaster prevention and environmental justice at the center of an updated rule."

It's time to stop rolling the dice on chemical disasters 

 By Pam Nixon (WV)

"Have you ever watched somebody shake a can of soda, and then get ready to crack open the top? You know it’s going to explode, but you don’t know when, or how bad it will be. That’s what it’s like living near a chemical plant. Except the consequences can be deadly. As a lifelong resident of Kanawha County, West Virginia — an area that has been home to dozens of industrial facilities making everything from pesticides to plastics — I know this uncertain feeling all too well."

How close do you live to hazardous RMP facilities?

Explore interactive maps to find out. 


Highlighted Reports & Resources

Preventing Disaster: Three chemical incidents within two weeks show urgent need for stronger federal requirements This 2022 report profiles:

  • a fire at the Winston Weaver Fertilizer plant in North Carolina that caused 6,500 people to evacuate and nearly triggered a deadly ammonium nitrate explosion;
  • an explosion at the Westlake Chemical South plant that caused 7,000 students to shelter in place in the Lake Charles area in Louisiana;
  • and a massive fire that spread to the Qualco chemical plant in Passaic, New Jersey and came dangerously close to igniting an estimated 3 million pounds of hazardous chemicals.

The report offers actionable recommendations the EPA should include in its final RMP rule that could prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, including: 

  • Requiring all RMP facilities to consider, document, and implement safer chemicals and technologies; 
  • Expanding the Risk Management Program to cover ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals which remain excluded in the proposed rule; 
  • Requiring RMP facilities to not only consider the risks posed by natural hazards, as proposed in the draft rule, but to take meaningful steps to prepare for those risks, such as implementing backup power for chemical production and storage processes. 


  • Transitioning to Safer Substitutes. Our infographic shows how a water reclamation plant in Albuquerque, New Mexico was able to stop storing dangerous quantities of chlorine gas on site by switching to an ultraviolet light disinfection system, after residents took action.
  • The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters maintains an ongoing list of chemical incidents in the United States. Since January 1, 2021 there have been over 900 chemical incidents. Learn more.
  • Unprepared for Disaster: Chemical Hazards in the Wake of Hurricane Ida. In this 2021 report, we profile three facilities in Louisiana that put communities at risk by releasing toxic chemicals into the environment after being hit with high winds and flooding from Hurricane Ida. We recommend several ways the EPA could meaningfully update its Risk Management Program to prevent chemical disasters from happening in the first place. 
  • Read the public comments submitted by Coming Clean, EJHA and over 80 organizations submitted  to calling for a stronger Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule, and watch the testimonies of advocates and frontline community members affected by past chemical disasters. 
  • The Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals is our roadmap for transforming the chemical industry, endorsed by over 125 organizations. Safer chemicals and processes exist. We must phase out the production of chemicals that put communities in danger and contribute to climate change - and take immediate action to strengthen and restore communities that have have borne the brunt of legacy and ongoing contamination by the chemical industry.

Now This promotes chemical disaster prevention


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