• How safe are the Gulf oil dispersants?

    As of 14 June, more than 3.34 million liters of dispersant had been sprayed onto oil on the sea surface; at least a further 1.52 million liters had been pumped into the oil gushing from the stricken well some 1,500 meters below sea level; the use of such large volumes at depth is unprecedented, and marine biologists are concerned about possible toxicity to organisms, including shrimp and fish larvae

  • Trains still carry lethal cargo through Dallas-Forth Worth, other American cities

    A cloud of chlorine gas could kill up to 17,500 people and injure 100,000 others within several miles; about 1,300 chlorine-filled cars go through Union Pacific Railroad’s Davidson Yard in west Fort Worth in a typical year; the U.S. railroad industry, which is required by federal common-carrier law to ship chemicals such as chlorine, transported some 75,000 tank cars of toxic inhalants nationwide in 2009

  • Debate over chemical plant security heats up -- again, II

    Some lawmakers want to toughen up the chemical plant safety legislation, due for renewal before it expires this fall; the chemical industry prefers the continuation of the current measure, which was passed in 2007; the key debate is over whether or not DHS should be in a position to impose the use of safer and less volatile chemical on those plants closest to large urban centers; the industry points out that many plants have already made the switch voluntarily

  • Debate over chemical plant security heats up -- again, I

    The current chemical plant security law was passed in 2006 and expires in October; some lawmakers want to strengthen it, while the chemical industry want the law renewed without changes, saying chemical plants have taken steps to prevent accidental or terrorist-induced releases of dangerous compounds

  • Hearing to be held on lack of chemical plant inspections

    There are about 15,000 chemical plants in the United States; 6,000 of them were supposed to be inspected by DHS to make sure their security protocols comply with the current Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, or CFATS, but only 12 have been inspected

  • Web site lists rail-carried hazardous chemicals in real time

    Railroad operator CSX now provides first responders and the Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC) access to secure Web-based information which allows CHEMTREC to find a train number, tank car number, and identify what is being transported in those cars; BNSF also provides CHEMTREC with manifest information, but only after a derailment; BNSF does, however, provide municipalities a list of chemicals it routinely transports through cities

  • AWWA: Chemical security bill needs local decision power

    The American Water Works Association advises Congress that any new chemical security legislation should reflect the need for local water experts to make key treatment decisions and protect sensitive information from non-essential personnel

  • Growing demand for chemical plants to switch to IST

    A 2008 analysis estimated that seven of Clorox’s bleach plants placed a total of nearly ten million people in the United States at risk from chlorine gas release; Clorox announced last year that it was phasing out processing chlorine gas into sodium hypochlorite in its plants; trouble is, Clorox consumes only about 1 percent of the chlorine gas used each year in the United States, thus, the overall impact of Clorox’s positive move on the country’s risk is minimal

  • New survey shows many water, wastewater plants improve chemical security

    New study says 554 drinking water and wastewater plants in 47 states have replaced extremely hazardous substances with safer and more secure chemicals or processes; at least 2,600 additional water and wastewater facilities still use large amounts of chlorine gas

  • Chemical facility security bills would limit local control

    Water industry insider says that a new bill, creating new chemical security requirements for drinking water utilities, would shift control over security and emergency measures in water treatment facilities from local authorities to the federal government; he is not sure this is a good idea.

  • House tightens chemical plant safety bill

    A House bill is set to tighten some provisions of the original chemical plant safety bill of two years ago; specifically, the House bill demands that chemical plants be obligated to replace the most toxic and volatile — and, hence, the most dangerous — chemicals they use in their operations with safer substitutes — but in a nod to the chemical industry, the bill focuses only on the highest-risk plants, and it would make them use safer chemicals or processes only when DHS determines that they are feasible and cost-effective

  • Clorox announces plans to transition U.S. operations to high-strength bleach

    In an important step toward better chemical plant safety, Clorox says it will begin modifying manufacturing processes in its U.S. bleach operations; the company will move from chlorine to high-strength bleach as a raw material for making its namesake bleach

  • Cost versus safety debated at Albany, N.Y. chemical plant location

    Greenpeace backs federal proposal for tougher chemical plant safety rules, but an Albany firm — and the chemical industry more generally — fear expense

  • 70,000 evacuated amid Texas chemical facility fire

    Fire at a chemical storage warehouse in Bryan, Texas has prompted the evacuation of about 70,000 people; officials plan for the evacuation of students at Texas A&M University in nearby College Station

  • House panel votes for mandating safer technology at chemical plants

    In a setback to the chemical industry, the House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill yesterday that could make chemical facilities use safer technologies and open them to civil lawsuits when they violate regulations