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Duct Tape Is No Substitute For Right-To-Know: Why we need more public disclosure, Not Less!


<-- TerrorSpeak
<-- Right-to-Know or Left-to-Wonder?
<-- MapCruzin News

Duct Tape Is No Substitute For Right-To-Know: Why we need more public disclosure, Not Less!

This is my reply to a message posted by an EPA Region 8 employee to [email protected]. Since the list it was posted to is public, I thought that I would repost it here for you all.

**** My reply ****

Hi - I am surprised and very worried. What don't you get? I would think that someone from EPA would know what this is all about. Maybe this will help you get it.

I think that much of the discussion began because of a post about how RTK may be undermined by terrorspeak in the future. It has already begun.

Here's a list of some post 911 net censorship:

Right after 911 EPA removed internet access to Clean Air Act required Risk Management Plans even though what was posted did not include "worst case scenarios."

Access to RMPs would have provided communities access to facilities that posed Bhopal-like risks -- something the TRI fails to do. Fortunately the executive summaries are still made available by a non- profit, RTK-Watch at:

Also, right after 911, the ATSDR report "Industrial Chemicals and Terrorism: Human Health Threat Analysis, Mitigation and Prevention" was removed from the web even though it contained NO site specific information. It does tell us though how little has been done by the chemical industry and regulators to protect us from chemical disasters. This report is archived at:

Now Patriot Act II has the potential to criminalize some aspects of public disclosure and surely will have a chilling effect on RTK. See:

Here are some recent articles and resources about the risks we face from chemical facilities and transport in our communities.

Maybe folks wouldn't be so worried if it looked like our regulators and agencies were taking positive steps towards reducing the risks. The Department of Justice is years behind the deadline for doing their Site Security Study. See: for more on this and how little DOJ has done.


Because industry and regulators have dropped the ball, it is especially important that communities know as much as possible about the risks they face so that they can take informed steps to pressure industry to do the right thing and reduce the risks at the local level. TRI is an alternative to command-and-control regulation and has worked very well in pressuring industry, through public disclosure, to reduce their emissions. Public disclosure of Risk Management Plans would have a similar effect.

Here are comments by some groups about RTK and worst case scenarios that are worth reading: and some pre-911 discussion about public disclosure of chemical information at:

In Patriot II and earlier discussions those against public disclosure love to say that such and such information provides a "roadmap for terrorists." The "roadmap" already exists! Yellow pages, Industry directories, Industry websites -- don't these provide "roadmaps"? Do industry or government regulators point to these sources of site specific information as threats to our security?

List of chemical industry website "roadmaps"

or just go to and enter "chemical"

Think about it. Is this any less of a "roadmap"? Don't industries list what they produce, give their location, possibly list even their best customers? Some even provide links to mapquest! I mean... if a do-no-gooder wants to find the info, it's there.

Wouldn't it be ridiculous to ban all these websites and related public library information, yellow pages, directories and the like? Of course! Is it any less ridiculous to reduce the public disclosure of potential chemical related risks in the communities where we live, work and play? NO! Both make little sense. The only purpose that less disclosure would serve is to make it less obvious how little industry and government agencies and departments are doing to protect us from these risks.

Corporations are NOT private citizens! They are (or should be) created and allowed to continue to exist only to the degree that they provide benefits to the public good. There is a rising tide of individuals and groups who rightly question the "evolution" of corporations away from "public good" and towards rights as individual citizens. Corporations and the governments who regulate them must be accountable to the public.


Corporate accountability comes by way of public disclosure. The argument equating the public disclosure of chemical information to the invasion of the privacy of citizens is wrong. In this age of terrorspeak we are moving towards less privacy for citizens and more privacy for corporations. There is something very wrong with this picture and we should be fighting against it. Assuring that our Right-To-Know is NOT diminished should be high on our priority list.


Michael R. Meuser,
[email protected]
Tools & Resources for Re-Imagining Our
Relationships with Each Other & the Earth
Right-To-Know Atlas of the United States CD

***** Post from EPA Region 8 employee *******

> Howdy list!
> Ok, I've seen a number of posts
> flying back and forth over this
> issue, with a fair amount of finger
> pointing and name-calling.
> I don't get it!
> What I seem to hear on the RTK side is the
> arguement that any and all information
> anyone wants about any facility should be
> provided to them regardless of any
> security or proprietary business
> concerns.
> Is this really what you meant?
> There is a huge gulf between providing a
> basic information about a facility - name,
> address, and public permit information, and
> providing detailed operation plans,
> chemical inventory and handling
> details, delivery schedules, and
> blueprints. For many facilities,
> once you've identified it, a little
> home work online or at the
> library should give you a general
> outline of what they do and how
> they do it.
> In the United States, government
> regulatory agencies already
> supply a lot of information on
> facilities they regulate. For the
> US, check out EPA's Envirofacts
> website to check for facilities near
> you on the Toxic Release Index,
> hazardous waste sites, waste water
> dischargers,and air emissions permits.
> For list of chemical and
> biological contaminants of
> concern for drinking water
> cross-referenced with facility
> type, please see
> on the Safewater website.
> What is it that you need and are not getting?
> I see this range as roughly the
> same as that for personal
> information. Your name, address,
> and telephone number are probably
> fairly readily available - published
> in a telephone book in print
> and on-line, for instance. Your bank
> account numbers, credit card
> numbers, Personal Indentification
> Numbers, and medical history, are
> not, and for good reason. This
> information could be used to harm
> you, so its availability is carefully
> regulated.
> What am I missing?
> Thanks!
> Marcella
> Marcella Hutchinson
> US EPA Region 8
> [email protected]
> **** WaterForum, A Worldwide Water Discussion ****
> ****

<-- TerrorSpeak
<-- Right-to-Know or Left-to-Wonder?
<-- MapCruzin News

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