This was written by Erandi Trevino Texas State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force:
Exposure to harmful chemicals poses a health risk to all people, but it is especially dangerous for children, whose bodies are still developing. One in every three schoolchildren in the US attends school in an area at risk of suffering the effects of a chemical disaster at one or more nearby hazardous industrial or petrochemical facilities.
That’s why I gave testimony this week at an EPA hearing about the Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) rule. This rule will better protect the health and safety of communities vulnerable to chemical disasters—like mine and those around it—by strengthening existing safeguards and introducing new ones.
One of the reasons I spoke at the hearing is because there is an at-risk school—San Jacinto Elementary in Deer Park—just minutes from my home in Houston. This school is located in the vulnerability zones of 41 different chemical facilities.
Three years ago, this school and the surrounding, predominantly Latino communities were threatened by a weeks-long series of catastrophic storage tank fires and toxic air emissions from the nearby Intercontinental Terminals Company. This disaster affected the entire Houston metropolitan area. Highways were closed, schools were closed, residents were warned to shelter in place, and a black plume of toxic gas and smoke covered the region. Sadly, this disaster was not an isolated one.
The proposed Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention rule would be a big step toward protecting these children and my community. It strengthens EPA’s existing Risk Management Program and further protects vulnerable communities from chemical disasters—especially those living near facilities with high rates of unintentional chemical releases.