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Texas Fertilizer Plant Tragedy Reminder of Need for Better Chemical Safety Rules
WASHINGTON - April 22 - Statement of Nasima Hossain, U.S. PIRG public health advocate, on the chemical plant explosion in West, Texas
“Wednesday night’s tragedy at the West fertilizer plant is a catastrophic reminder of the threat posed by hazardous chemicals used in thousands of facilities across the nation, and the need for us to take every step to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.
“After the fires are put out, there should be a full, timely investigation to understand the causes of this tragedy, and what could have been done to prevent it. We have a duty to learn from this disaster, not only for the town of West, but for the millions of Americans across the country who live near similar facilities. Nationwide, there are almost 500 chemical facilities that each currently put more than 100,000 people at risk of death or illness due to chemical exposure.
“The use of high-risk chemicals in plants near populated areas creates a constant danger of accidental release with the potential for catastrophic deaths and injuries— an especially frightening risk if this vulnerability were ever exploited intentionally. Congress, the EPA, and the Chemical Safety Board have a responsibility to ensure that this tragedy is fully investigated, and follow through with the adoption of much-needed improvements in our chemical security rules to protect Americans from the risks of unsafe chemicals.”