Dow Chemical headquartered in Midland, Michigan, is one of twelve companies that each endanger millions of Americans in the event of accidents or terrorist attacks, according to a new report by PIRGIM. Dow owns 41 facilities nationally storing large amounts of chemicals that collectively put more than six million Americans at risk. PIRGIM called on Dow and the other eleven companies to reduce the threat to communities near their facilities by using safer chemicals and processes where possible.
“It is unacceptable that facilities like those owned by Dow Chemical continue to endanger so many lives,” said PIRGIM Field Director Megan Owens. “Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and the chemical industry have opposed strong, mandatory chemical security regulations.”
Thousands of industrial facilities across the U.S., owned by companies like Dow, Clorox and DuPont, use and store hazardous chemicals in quantities large enough to threaten surrounding communities in the event of an accidental release or deliberate terrorist attack. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 100 facilities each have at least 1 million people living close enough to be at risk of injury or death in the event of a chemical release.
The report, Dangerous Dozen: A Look at How Chemical Companies Jeopardize Millions of Americans, analyzes the chemical companies’ own estimates submitted to the EPA. Findings include:
The chemical industry and the Bush Administration argue that voluntary security measures are enough to protect America from accidents or attacks at these facilities. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a lobbying organization that works on behalf of the chemical industry, spent $4.3 million in 2002 and 2003 on in-house lobbyists, making it the loudest voice on Capitol Hill opposing strong, mandatory chemical security regulations. Six of the 12 companies profiled in Dangerous Dozen, including Dow Chemical, are ACC members.
“The chemical industry would prefer to ignore the best way to reduce the threat these facilities pose to surrounding communities – using safer chemicals and processes wherever possible,” said Owens. “But security guards and tall fences can only do so much to stop dangerous incidents.”
PIRGIM urged the federal government to require high-hazard chemical plants to review and use safer chemicals and processes wherever feasible and to enact strict security standards where safer chemicals are not feasible.
PIRGIM also called on all of the Dangerous Dozen companies to immediately review options for reducing hazards at their plants, to set measurable goals and timelines for reducing chemical dangers, and to support mandatory federal security standards requiring all companies to consider changing to safer chemicals and processes.