By: Patrice Tomcik, Senior National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: September 27, 2022
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0174
To: Environmental Protection Agency
I am Patrice Tomcik, a Senior National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force, living in Gibsonia, located in Southwest Pennsylvania. Moms Clean Air Force is a community of more than 1 million moms and dads nationwide united to protect our children’s health from air pollution and climate change. We envision a safe and equitable future where all children breathe clean air and live in a stable climate.
I support the proposed EPA Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention rule, which will strengthen the Risk Management Program to help protect the health and safety of communities living near chemical and petrochemical facilities.
Although the Risk Management Program has been in place for decades, the threat of disasters from chemical, petrochemical, oil, and gas facilities are still a real and present danger for many communities across the country. Over one in every three school children in the US attends a school within the vulnerability zone of a hazardous chemical or petrochemical facility. Half of these children are in schools located in more than one chemical vulnerability zone.
My children and 3,200 of their classmates go to school approximately one mile from the James Austin Bleach Company who are the makers of Austin’s bleach. I am concerned about the risk to their health and safety from possible chemical releases due to accidents. Located about eight miles away is the Markwest Bluestone natural gas processing facility the size of a football field that poses a health and safety risk for the more than 4,000 students that attend school approximately a mile away. Upwind in the next county over, there is one of the largest petrochemical complexes in North America being constructed, the Shell Ethane cracker facility, that is expected to be online any day. There are three schools located less than three miles away from this mammoth facility. The Shell petrochemical facility will continuously need to be fed the feedstock of ethane that comes from the fracked gas wells like the ones in my community and those in the area.
It is critical that the Risk Management Program requires analysis of the consequences to local communities before siting new facilities and take into account the cumulative impacts of other industrial polluters in the community. In the event of a chemical emergency, facilities should minimally be equipped with back-up power, leak detection, and real-time air monitoring with public access to minimize the adverse outcomes of disasters. Finally, the rule should require facilities to transition away from extremely harmful chemicals like hydrofluoric acid to safer alternatives.
I urge the EPA to move swiftly and strengthen the Risk Management Program to help protect the health and safety of children and their communities.