Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) released an analysis prepared for him by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) that details how many chemical facilities in each state threaten the lives of Americans.
At a joint Senate hearing on chemical safety and security, Senator Markey detailed how thousands of facilities in all 50 states contain hazardous chemicals that could be attacked by terrorists, or could harm or kill Americans living nearby during an explosion like the one that rocked a West, TX facility in 2013.
“We’ve long known that our chemical facilities could be used as terrorist targets, and the resurgence of radical groups like ISIL should remind us to stay vigilant,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Yet many of our chemical facilities remain vulnerable, and this analysis shows these risks exist everywhere across our country.”
The full analysis used data submitted by the chemical industry to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to calculate how many people would be threatened by the release of chemicals caused by a terrorist attack or accident at chemical facilities in each state. The EPA database includes facilities that use large quantities of 140 of the most toxic and flammable chemicals, including chlorine, chemicals containing arsenic, and propane. However, EPA has yet to update its list of dangerous chemicals to include ammonium nitrate, which is the substance responsible for the West, TX accident, as well as the 1995 Oklahoma City and 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
The top 10 states with the greatest number of chemical facilities with dangerous chemicals are:
1. Texas 1424 facilities
2. Illinois 939
3. California 886
4. Iowa 874
5. Kansas 666
6. Indiana 458
7. Nebraska 456
8. Minnesota 429
9. Ohio 402
10. Missouri 363
Texas had the greatest number of facilities that put more than one million people at risk, with 34 out of the 89 such facilities nationwide.
Following the West, TX explosion, the Obama administration released an Executive Order to better secure our nation’s chemical facilities. Yet during the Senate hearing today, Senator Markey noted that the Agencies responsible for implementing the order had not taken several actions to secure facilities with chlorine, or ammonium nitrate, the chemical used during the World Trade Center attack in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and was the volatile chemical that exploded in the 2013 Texas tragedy.
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