The sad irony! The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) just released The 600K Report: Commercial Chemical Indcidents in the United States, 1987-1996 - Special Congressional Summary (download the summary below - the full report will be available in March, 1999).
In this report the CSB equates the history of chemical accidents resulting in deaths to commercial airplane crashes saying, "... the industrial equivalent of two 737 airplanes 'crash' year after year, killing all passengers (256 people)."
In December, 1998 CSB also sponsored a Y2K and chemical safety conference. Many experts in the field say that Y2K has the potential for increasing the risk of chemical accidents (download the transcript below).
Luckily, just in the nick of time, EPA will have the information we need to locate the high risk facilities in our neighborhoods and take action to protect ourselves and see to it that nearby plants are taking all necessary precautions to protect us. BUT EPA, Congress and the FBI are trying to prevent its full public disclosure (see Right-To-Know More News for details on "worst case scenario" information), saying that to do so would increase the threat of domestic terrorism.
So here we sit - a history of chemical accidents killing 256 people per year, the very real threat that this may increase, yet the information that would help us take precautions will not be made available to us.
Interestingly, the Clean Air Act of 1990 that requires EPA to gather the "worst case scenario" information and use it to inform the public about the risk of chemical accidents they face in their neighborhoods ALSO created the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. CSB acknowledges a policy of open disclosure saying, "... we need to provide the public with candid information and assessments of where we are," while the EPA - well that's another story.
Links to Articles and Report Dowloads
Y2K problems could close Defense Dept. chemical plant
Will bug cause chemical accidents?
A First Look At The 600K Report: Commercial Chemical Incidents In The United States, 1987 - 1996 Chemical Incidents In The United States, 1987 - 1996
Houston-area plants race computer-driven clock to prevent disaster
- Download Summary Report (1.4MB, PDF Format)
Experts Say Chemical Industry Must Tackle Y2K Problem on Several Fronts
EPA Tells Congress It Would Oppose FOIA Requests for Electronic Version of National RMP Database
- Year 2000 technology problem and chemical safety convened by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), (Dec. 1998)
Dowload Meeting Minutes (ascii text format, word document)
RTK or Left-To-Wonder?