July 28, 2023
There is a chemical fire, explosion, or toxic release every two days on average in the US alone, according to the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters.
The EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) rule regulates around 12,000 facilities in the US that use or store highly hazardous chemicals and is intended to prevent chemical disasters.
However, chemical incidents including fires, explosions, and toxic releases are occurring frequently every year, harming workers, the facilities, and communities — let alone, getting into the air and soil, likely harming animals as well.
So far this year, there have been 195 incidents across the US, with Texas incurring the most at 27.
Those tracked are curated from media reports of incidents involving hazardous or toxic chemicals, which are then investigated for more details including locations and ownership of the relevant facility or hazardous materials in transport.
Chemical incidents include fires, hazardous chemical releases, explosions, and any incident that triggers an evacuation, shelter in place warning, or causes injuries or deaths.
This year’s incidents include an herbicide spill from a motor vehicle accident and other chemical leaks and spills to fires and explosions at chemical plants. Here is the number breakdown by month:
January – 21
February – 21
March – 37
April – 31
May – 34
June – 35
July (as of 7/20) – 16
This year's 195 incidents, just for a little over half of the year, is already exceeding 2022 with 186, and 177 chemical incidents in 2021.
According to EPA data, 150 serious incidents at RMP facilities occur each year in the US on average. But this number does not include the fires, releases, and explosions that occur with regularity at facilities not covered by the RMP, or incidents involving hazardous materials being transported by rail or highway.
The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters has maintained an incident database, sourced from news, industry, and government reports since April 2020. This database and map are both updated weekly. Check out the interactive map with chemical incidents from 2021-2023 here.
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