Hazardous Chemical Inventories Often Kept from Public

Updated 4 years ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

Ironically, an act of Congress passed to protect communities from catastrophic chemical disasters such as the one in India and one in Institute, WV have become shielded from the public due to terro

rism concerns. The Charleston Gazette reported that Freedom Industries filed a required Tier II report on its inventory of the coal-cleaning chemical 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM).

Following the reported Charleston spill, county and state agencies have stated they lacked emergency preparedness for such an incident.

But a May 2013 Reuters/ Chicago Tribune report indicated that reports are considered "tip sheets" for potential terrorists. Ten states would not disclosed inventories at the time of the article, causing Reuters  to conclude compliance with the federal law to be "spotty." Forty states had not responded after 45 days.

"The U.S. hazardous-chemical reporting program, known as Tier II, is meant to alert residents to dangers in their communities and to inform planning that could prevent fatalities and injuries. The program grew out of the Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act, enacted in 1986, following leaks of dangerous chemicals in India and West Virginia," the article stated.

Mark Howard, director of the Arizona Emergency Management Commission, said releasing the data would compound the difficult problem of securing chemical sites.

"Stuff goes missing all the time," Howard said. "I honestly believe this has the potential to create more harm than the public knowing."

State government officials have access to the statewide inventory, he said, and are better suited to make decisions about chemical threats. "At some point, you have to hope the government is doing the right thing," he said.

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