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Our Motivation: Living Toxic Free

All creatures should be safe from hazardous toxic chemicals whether its from a hazardous chemical facility, toxic waste dumped in water sources or toxic pesticides threatening the survival of bees and other pollinators.

One in three people in the US live within the danger zone of a chemical facility that stores poison gases. Greenpeace US focuses on protecting Americans from these dangerous facilities. The tragedy in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured over 200 is an example of why our existing chemical policies need to be updated to require facilities to use safer available processes and technologies. President Obama in 2013 in response to explosion in West signed introduced an Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety and Security (E.O. 13650), which directs federal agencies to modernize chemical plant safety and security policies.

Greenpeace’s chemical plant safety and security work involves urging the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Obama to update outdated policies and require safety measures to prevent future chemical disasters. Since the signing of the executive order the EPA has slow walked the issue to modernize outdated policies. We are at a critical point with the EPA and the administration to demand for action that moves the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to implement new prevention based regulations in the next 18 months (2015). 

In addition to chemical facilities lacking proper regulation, hazardous toxic waste produced by industry and often dumped illegally or without oversight, contributes to the pollution of our air, water, and soil. Unfortunately, it’s often developed countries and their industries dumping hazardous waste in the developing world’s natural and critical resources. People with the fewest resources to protect themselves are then exposed to harmful pollution. One of the primary offenders of this practice is the fashion industry which you can learn more about from our Detox campaign. (LINK to Detox campaign page)

The excessive use of synthetic and toxic pesticides and herbicides used in industrial agriculture pollute our waterways and food, make our families sick, and destroy wildlife, including the pollinators that are so crucial to our food systems. Greenpeace promotes sustainable agriculture that is safer for our water and food.

Preventing Chemical Disasters

It was the dead of night, December 3, 1984, in the Indian city of Bhopal. As people slept, a tank at a chemical facility released tons of toxic gas into the air.  More than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) was released into the community surrounding a pesticide plant. People woke in their homes coughing violently, their lungs filling with fluid. More than 8,000 people were killed in just the first few days following the leak, mainly from cardiac and respiratory arrest. Since then, another 12,000 people have died from complications.

Read more about the Bhopal disaster

The Bhopal incident may seem ages ago, but one third of Americans- 110 million people-face the same risk today. According to the EPA, nearly 500 chemical facilities each put 100,000 or more people at risk in the communities surrounding their fence line. And at every facility, workers face the biggest risk.

And most of those facilities suffer from poor safety procedures and lax oversight. Even in the past few years, breakdowns at chemical storage facilities have highlighted just how vulnerable we are:

  • An explosion at a fertilizer plant destroyed the town of West, Texas in 2013, killing 15 and injuring nearly 200. Ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical used to make fertilizer caused the fatal explosion.

  • 15,000 people were hospitalized after a 2012 fire at Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California.

  • Following the release of a toxic chemical used to clean coal, the drinking water supply of 300,000 people in and around Charleston, West Virginia was contaminated poisoned for months. While officials have removed “the warning” on drinking water, communities in West Virginia still don’t think the water is safe.

Read more about the crisis in West Virginia

The chemical industry needs to use safer alternatives, but it refuses to take action. If released by an industrial accident or by a terrorist, poison gas could cause a catastrophe, leaving thousands killed or injured, just like in Bhopal Disaster in December of 1984.

As disaster after disaster make perfectly clear, unsafe chemical facilities are a an immediate threat to nearby communities. The solution is swift and sweeping legislation that requires companies to use safer processes for chemical storage, particularly when it comes to poison gas. Furthermore, chemicals we know to be most dangerous to human health should be phased out in the immediate future. Safer alternatives exist in almost every case.

There is no reason for us and our loved ones to be surrounded by unnecessary deadly threats. Major chemical companies, Clorox among them, have already converted their plants. So what is holding the rest of them back?

TAKE ACTION NOW TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM CHEMICAL DISASTERS 

Will Congress Set Weaker Safety Standards than Europe, China, Korea and all 50 States?

Promoting Toxic-Free Industry 

In addition to chemical facilities lacking proper regulation, hazardous toxic waste produced by industry and often dumped illegally or without oversight, contributes to the pollution of our air, water, and soil. Unfortunately, it’s often developed countries and their industries dumping hazardous waste in the developing world’s natural and critical resources. People with the fewest resources to protect themselves are then exposed to harmful pollution. One of the primary offenders of this practice is the fashion industry which you can learn more about from our Detox campaign. 

The excessive use of synthetic and toxic pesticides and herbicides used in industrial agriculture pollute our waterways and food, make our families sick, and destroy wildlife, including the pollinators that are so crucial to our food systems. Greenpeace promotes sustainable agriculture that is safer for our water and food.

 

 

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