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Don Sundquist, Governor of Tennessee - revoke right to know
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<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

Note that the ATSDR found that much needs to be done to decrease the risks at chemical plants (this report was taken offline after 911 yet it provides no specific information on any chemical facilities that could aid would-be terrorists), that EPA is cutting back on enforcement and that Congress may Eliminate the Chemical Safety Board.

Source: "Community Toxics Watch" email, April 5, 2002.

This anti-right-to-know letter is almost a charicature. I wonder who wrote it for the Governor? Note also the date on the letter.

October 8, 2001

Director Tom Ridge
Director, Office of Homeland Security
1100 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Director Ridge:


Due to the events of September 11, 2001, I have taken the initiative to name General Wendell Gilbert to the new position of Deputy to the Governor for Homeland Security. He will be working directly with you on all matters pertaining to national and state security. Two years ago I formed a multi-agency Task Force to handle emergency planning and consequence management dealing with Weapons of Mass Destruction and Domestic Preparedness issues.

The first and most important recommendation from the Task Force to me was to contact you and ask you to immediately revoke the SARA Title III "Community-Right-To-Know" Federal Law. In particular, Tier II, Form R's and Plans, which are the responsibility of state and local governments through the Local Emergency Planning Committee's (LEPC's) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The members of the Task Force, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the Department of Safety, The Attorney General's Office, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) recognize the clear and present danger to Tennessee's security which is opened wide to any public scrutiny through the complete release of these maps and plans and detailed work schedules and lists.

I believe that by implementing the "Presidents Emergency Powers Act", President Bush can revoke or temporarily suspend this federal law, due to the tremendous threat to national security which it invites. Therefore, I am asking you to make this revocation action your first formal recommendation to the President. I believe this will close a huge hole in our national security blanket which has hitherto been unrecognized up to this juncture.


The information which is gathered in the LEPC emergency plans and maps and roster listings is, at this moment, completely open to any public citizen's perusal in local and state offices throughout the nation. My security Task Force has identified this "Right-To-Know" information as, without question, the most sensitive and dangerous hazardous-materials information which could possibly be released to the public. By appearing at a local emergency management office or local County Executive's office or by calling regional EPA offices, any person, whether a legal citizen or an illegal alien (as no identification is required by this law) can demand, and must be given by statute, every single bit of information on the whereabouts, amount, and security and first responder emergency plans for every hazardous-materials storage or production or transportation site in every community in every state of the nation.

When this law was introduced and codified by Congress in 1986 it was intended to provide emergency information necessary to protect and save the lives of first responders and emergency personnel who would have to deal with spills or accidents involving the production, storage or transportation of dangerous hazardous-materials, in and through communities. Through the years, by introduction of computerized data-bases and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) these response concerns have now be identified and addressed by state and local authorities. Now, due to the introduction of cyber-terrorism and world-wide networking, a determined individual could ask for access to files which could tell exactly how many pounds or gallons of dangerous chemical or biological ingredients were present at an exact location in any of our states. They could also determine from these files when shipments in and out of facilities could be tracked and what would be the destructive reaction should these materials be tampered with. They could also know where to deter and stop emergency response personnel and the entire emergency plans which state and local officials would use to interdict their movements. They can know the ability of the facilities to protect materials and the names and phone numbers (updated quarterly) of each and every key safety and security personnel involved in the protection and transportation procedures. I think you can easily and clearly see the potential worst-case scenario that is readily available to terrorists, at this moment, in thousands of unknowing offices. A quick terrorist strike using this easily obtained information could result in the deaths of thousands of victims.

Of course, this law was never intended to be used in this manner, but in the last twenty years, conditions have changed more than we could ever have imagined. I think the events of September 11, 2001 bear out this concern.

I feel that this local LEPC information is critical to the safety of our infrastructure and as such it should be kept in a secure place at the state or local level, with very limited access to some of the sensitive emergency information. The needed response and planning information should be determined and cleared by a newly formed security panel which your office should appoint and oversee. Then, the original intent of the law could be retained, and our national security safety would not be jeopardized.

If you have any questions or concerns about this request, feel free to contact my office. I will be ready to discuss or work with you on this issue. Thank you for your concern.


Don Sundquist

Working Group on Community Right-to-Know
218 D Street, SE; Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-544-9586; Fax: 202-546-2461

<-- Return To Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

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Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist is an independent firm specializing in GIS project development and data research. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.

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