Trend: Responsible chemical plants adopt "inherent safer technology" on their own

companies, waste management facilities and agricultural chemical suppliers

””“”” Facilities reported replacing gaseous chlorine, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide, among other chemicals

””“”” The most common reasons cited for making changes included the security and safety of employees and nearby communities, as well as regulatory incentives and business opportunities

””“”” Switching to safer chemicals costs money, but it also saves money: Facilities cut a variety of costs and regulatory burdens by switching to less hazardous chemicals or processes. These facilities need fewer physical security and safety measures and can better focus on producing valuable products and services”

The report notes that, this progress notwithstanding, thousands of facilities that could switch to safer alternatives still have not done so. For example, several thousand water treatment plants, many situated in cities and towns, still use chlorine gas.”

Among the facilities replacing hazardous chemicals with safer materials:”

””“”” The Cleveland, Ohio-based Nottingham Water Treatment Plant now treats drinking water with liquid bleach instead of chlorine gas; some 1.1 million people are no longer at risk of a toxic gas release

””“”” The Detroit, Michigan-based Wyandotte Wastewater Treatment Facility switched from chlorine gas to ultraviolet light; more than 1 million people are no longer at risk of a toxic gas release

””“”” Carlstadt, New Jersey-based Manhattan Products now produces household cleaning products with liquid ammonia instead of gaseous ammonia, removing the threat to 160,000 residents

””“”” Louisville, Kentucky-based Solae Company dba DuPont Soy Polymers switched from anhydrous sulfur dioxide to the safer sodium bisulfite for producing food products from soy; the change removed the threat to 37,000 residents

””“”” Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Wisconsin Power’s Pulliam Plant switched from anhydrous to solid sulfur dioxide for pollution control, removing the threat to 180,000 residents

””“”” Roseville, Minnesota-based U.S. Filter Recovery Services changed treatment chemicals for certain hazardous waste recovery processes; the change eliminated the threat of a gas release to 62,000 residents”

The data the report provides about chemical conversion will likely to play in the debate next month when Congress considers several chemical security proposals. Several Democratic lawmakers are pushing for language which will require “inherently safer technology” (IST), while Republicans generally believe companies and municipalities should have flexibility to choose how they meet new DHS standards (this latter statement should be qualified: Most Republicans who expressed their views on the topic want to give states and municipalities this flexibility only if that flexibility does not lead them to formulate tougher measures than Congress legislates; see above discussion about the industry’s push for congressional preemption of states’ safety measures).”

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the report show the security efforts made by facilities across the country, but said the government should not limit industry options through IST legislation. “Government’s role is not to make business decisions,” ACC spokesman Chris VandenHeuvel said in a statement. “The Department of Homeland Security can never hope to be equipped to make educated decisions about the impact of internal process changes on the safety and security of 15,000 facilities — or about the efficacy or safety of the thousands of products they make.”