This was written by Tracy Sabetta, Moms Clean Air Force Ohio consultant:
In April, EPA proposed new standards to reduce air pollution released from more than 200 chemical manufacturing facilities across the US. These facilities make chemicals that are the building blocks of plastics. They release toxic pollution that can increase the risk of cancer for facility workers and people in nearby communities.
The proposed standards would help protect people’s health. More than 80% of the covered facilities have violated pollution laws during the last three years.
In fact, the plastics and chemical industries have a long history of putting people’s health and safety at risk. I know this firsthand.
My father worked for decades at Diamond Shamrock Corporation, located on the “Chemical Shore” in Ashtabula, Ohio. Our family lived nearby, and I remember as a child riding my bike past Fields Brook, a Lake Erie tributary where the plant discharged its waste. You could smell the chemicals in the air and water. That area is now a Superfund site because it is so badly polluted.
In January 1986, a chemical holding tank ignited at the facility and caused an explosion that killed two of my father’s dearest friends, injured 18 people, and sent a green chemical cloud into the air.
My father was missing for hours in the chaos. When he was located, we realized he had been helping others to safety and was so coated in the green dust people did not recognize it was him. He was rushed to the hospital for decontamination. The doctors said he was fine, but our community would never look at those chemical plants on the shore the same way again.
People need protections from these polluting facilities. Nearly 40 years later, chemical manufacturers are still releasing toxic pollution into the air and putting workers and communities at risk of chemical explosions.
Just last year, an explosion at the BP-Husky Refining Company in Oregon, Ohio, claimed two workers’ lives. And Ohio isn’t the only state experiencing these horrific incidents. Texas and Louisiana see the lion’s share of chemical disasters, but they happen in nearly every state in the nation.
If strong chemical manufacturing standards are implemented, communities across the US that are home to the 200+ covered facilities will be better protected from toxic pollution and potential disasters.
Join me in calling on EPA to finalize the most robust and comprehensive chemical manufacturing standards to protect people’s health.