The press immediately focused on chlorination. There's obviously much more. We all understand the hierarchy of controls. It was good to see the EPA pick it up as Pollution Prevention. However, this version panic-priority heavy-handed regulation and enforcement could really cause problems! >Recently, I posted information about the new >Homeland Security regulations for chemical >security. Here is a AP wire story that explores >some of the background of the issue... > >- Ralph > >http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070424/ap_on_go_ot/chemical_alternatives >Safer chemical switch not required > >By BEVERLEY LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer > >Tue Apr 24, 3:35 AM ET > >New federal regulations for chemical facilities >neither require nor encourage companies to >switch from potentially dangerous chemicals to >less hazardous substitutes, and that has some >lawmakers and activists worried. > >Rep. Bennie Thompson (news, bio, voting record), >D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security >Committee, and three Democratic colleagues >expressed "deep concern" Monday about the >reported thefts and attempted thefts of chlorine >gas from California water treatment plants. > >In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary >Michael Chertoff they said the incidents >underscored the need to switch to safer liquid >chlorine or other methods for water treatment. > >Chlorine gas can be fatal, and it has been used >as a weapon in a series of chemical bomb attacks >in recent months in Iraq. > >The new rules released earlier this month for >the first time give the government the authority >to regulate high-risk plants to ensure they are >secured from either accident or attack. >Regulators are empowered to impose civil >penalties up to $25,000 a day, and even to shut >down chemical facilities that fail to comply >with the rules. > >Chertoff has said he doesn't want to micromanage >industry from Washington. "We want to set down >standards and requirements but we do not want to >necessarily prescribe the exact way in which a >plant is going to meet those standards," he >said. "We want to unleash the ingenuity of the >private sector to figure out what is the best >way to skin this cat, just as long as the cat >gets skinned." > >That view was echoed by the American Chemistry >Council's spokesman, Scott Jensen, who said >industry objects to having the government the >tell plants when and where they should convert. >He added that forcing alternatives could be >cumbersome, expensive, and lead to unintended >consequences. > >Activists offer the story of the Blue Plains >sewage treatment plant in Washington, D.C., as >an example of a change to a safer alternative >that was accomplished quickly and without >excessive additional cost. > >After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, >plant manager Mike Marcotte could not sleep at >night because of the potential hazard posed by >several rail cars loaded with chlorine gas >sitting at his facility. "They were extremely >attractive targets," he said in an interview. An >attack on the tanks could have released a toxic >cloud endangering nearly 2 million people. > >Marcotte decided he needed to move quickly. >Having already made plans to replace chlorine >gas with liquid bleach within the next few >years, he rapidly accelerated those plans. >Within 90 days, the conversion was complete. > >Construction costs were about $500,000 and >subsequent upgrades cost about $15 million. The >safer liquid bleach added about 25 cents to the >average customer's monthly bill. But it was no >longer necessary to have police cars patrolling >around the clock, so security costs dropped >substantially. > >It's not just plants that make chemicals that >are potentially hazardous; there are also >facilities that use chemicals to produce other >products - for example, petroleum refineries may >use hydrogen fluoride; power plants may use >anhydrous ammonia, and water treatment plants >use chlorine and sulfur dioxide gas. All are >toxic if inhaled, and they are used in 55 >percent of the industrial processes that >threaten communities nationwide, according to >the environmental group Greenpeace. > >There are widely available safer alternatives for those gases. > >The liberal-leaning Center for American >Progress, in a 2006 study, said more than 284 >facilities in 47 states have converted to safer >alternatives since 1999. As a result, the Center >said, at least 30 million people no longer live >under the threat of a major toxic gas cloud. >Some examples: > >* Nottingham Water Treatment Plant, Cleveland, >Ohio, now treats drinking water with bleach >instead of chlorine gas. > >* Wyandotte Wastewater Treatment Facility, near >Detroit, switched from chlorine gas to >ultraviolet light. > >* DuPont Soy Polymers, Louisville, Ky., changed >from using anhydrous sulfur dioxide to the safer >sodium bisulfite. > >Since 1999, the Center says, 25 water utilities >that formerly received shipments of chlorine gas >by rail have switched to safer and more secure >options, such as liquid bleach or ultraviolet >light. But 37 drinking water and wastewater >treatment facilities still receive chlorine gas >by rail, leaving 25 million Americans living in >harm's way either nearby or in towns along the >rail route. > >Cleveland and Indianapolis both converted their >water utilities from chlorine gas, but they are >still at risk from railcars headed to other >cities such as Minneapolis and Nashville that >have not converted. > >___ > >On the Net: > >Homeland Security Department: http://www.dhs.gov > >House Homeland Security Committee: http://hsc.house.gov > >Center for American Progress: >http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/04/trains_numbers.html > >American Chemistry Council: >http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/sec_news_article.asp?CID206&DID5037 > > > >Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All >rights reserved. The information contained in >the AP News report may not be published, >broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without >the prior written authority of The Associated >Press.
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