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Web Source Companies reveal information on chemicals Neighbors get a look at industries' hazardous materials accident prevention programs. By Gail Krueger Savannah Morning News The old saying is wrong. What you don't know can hurt you. That's what Marion Johnson, a member of the West Savannah Neighborhood Association, said Friday. It's why she gave up her morning to attend an industry briefing on hazardous materials and the new federal Risk Management Program -- nicknamed 112R regulations. On Friday, Johnson and about 75 other Chatham County residents went to the Civic Center to get an early look at what 12 area facilities have found under the new regulations. They saw worst-case scenarios -- practically unimaginable situations -- that companies have to calculate under the new law to show what could happen if the most dangerous chemical they have were to escape in the most catastrophic way. They saw five-year accident histories for area companies covered by the regulations and got a look at their safety procedures. Johnson, whose nearest industrial neighbor is Union Camp, came away with her mind at ease. "Yes, it does make me feel safer. You always feel afraid when you don't know, and knowing is better," she said. Several companies -- Union Camp, Georgia-Pacific Resins and Hercules -- could potentially affect Johnson's neighborhood if an industrial accident were to happen. Johnson said she was glad to see they had such strong safety procedures in place. It was just the kind of reaction that industry was hoping for. The idea behind 112R is to get a conversation going between manufacturers and their neighbors about safety, said Kent Howell, hazardous materials specialist from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. "These industries have gone way beyond the letter of the law to make this public presentation today," Howell said. Georgia's Environmental Protection Division is charged with administering the federal regulations. The new law has three parts -- hazard assessment, a prevention program and an emergency response plan -- all to be made readily available to the public. Two of the companies that made information available Friday -- Union Camp and Kemwater North America Co. -- did so even though they are not technically required to participate in the program. The two firms offered up their emergency procedures and accident histories but did not calculate worst case scenarios -- another level of compliance that 112R requires some firms to do. The new regulation opens up a world of information to community leaders that can help them answer the question of how safe are their neighborhoods, said Pat Jenkins, president of the Northeast Savannah Environmental Association. Jenkins and Johnson both said it is information they have been eager to get. The impact circles -- circles the law requires the covered companies to calculate using Environmental Protection Agency formulas -- show areas of the community that could be affected. Areas in the circles could suffer heath and environmental impacts if the worst were to ever happen. The regulations require industries to come up with a worst case scenario and an alternate scenario -- a situation that would be a more likely or more standard accident for a given chemical in a given industrial process. The circles define toxic end points -- the furthest a molecule of the specific chemical could reach under the worst case scenario. What the circles do not show is how any individual in the area would be affected. Many variables, such as wind direction, could change the impact. While the circles got a lot of attention Friday, most people like Johnson and Jenkins were just as interested in the safety information presented. The covered companies have reviewed all of the materials and processes that could cause a problem and have taken steps to prevent accidents. In some cases, the new regulations require businesses to take additional steps; but the affected Chatham County companies have already done all the things the new law requires, Howell said. All Chatham County facilities that have a threshold amount of a regulated material -- between 500 to 20,000 pounds of 77 toxics and 10,000 pounds of 63 flammables -- are required to comply, said Steve Miller, hazardous materials responder chief for the Savannah Fire Department. So far, only 12 facilities and six chemicals made the list. Companies have until June 21 to complete their analysis and more companies may be found later that need to comply. The former Powell-Duffryn Terminals -- site of Savannah's worst industrial accident -- would not have been covered by 112R because the regulation only addresses manufacturing processes, not storage facilities and not tank trucks carrying materials through the area. In April 1995 an accidental explosion and fire at the eastside storage facility left several huge tanks burning. No one was injured, but neighborhoods were evacuated and some residents complained of respiratory problems. Miller said that since the Powell-Duffryn incident, the community has become better prepared to meet any emergency at the covered facilities with a fire department hazardous response team, an EPD hazardous response team and a variety of safety plans. * * * Accident histories Of the Chatham County facilities covered by the federal Risk Management Program -- 112R -- only two reported incidents under their five year accident histories. The Environmental Protection Agency defines the five year accident history to include all accidental releases from covered processes that resulted in deaths, injuries or property damage on the site or known off-site deaths, injuries, evacuations or environmental damage. The definition does not include on-site release that did not result in death, injury or property damage. I&D water plant -- Chlorine Date...Amount released....Cause 1997...Less than 10 lb....Contractor error during construction caused damage to chlorine solution line. Consequences: Minor injury. Kemira -- Titanium tetrachloride Date....Amount released....Cause 1994....300 lb.............Burst rupture disk due to over-pressure. Consequences: Five contractor employees received on-site first aid and were released to contractor's off-site medical provider. Three were released to return to work and two were hospitalized overnight for observation and then released the following day. There were no off-site consequences. Kemira -- Chlorine Date....Amount released...Cause 1994...110 lb..............Process upset. Consequences: Five employees received on-site first aid and were released from medical treatment. 1995....275 lb.............Leak. Consequences: One employee received on-site first aid and returned to work. The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Savannah River for about 30 minutes as a precautionary measure, but there were no off-site injuries. 1995....Less than 10 lb....Maintenance. Consequences: One contractor employee received on-site first aid and then was released to contractor's off-site medical provider. Environmental issues reporter Gail Krueger can be reached at 652-0331 Web posted Friday, February 26, 1999

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