By: Rachel Meyer, Ohio River Valley Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: September 28, 2022
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0174
To: Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Rachel Meyer, and I am the Ohio River Valley Field Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force—a community of 1 million moms nationwide united to protect our children from air pollution and climate change. I support the proposed Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule and encourage you to strengthen it to better protect communities like mine.
I live in Independence Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. In Beaver County, one of the largest petrochemical complexes in North America is being constructed and is expected to be online any day. The Shell ethane cracker has already had at least two chemical spills and an equipment failure that led to dark plumes of smoke. These accidents have happened before the facility has even officially gone into production. Concern is growing over the possibilities of future serious accidents. It is in close proximity to many people’s homes in surrounding communities, including the entire borough of Beaver. Protection for all communities needs to be taken very seriously.
In the river valleys of our region, we are subject to weather inversions that can trap and hold air pollution over communities. Potential pollution releases could have serious health consequences for people who have asthma, like me. EPA needs to require facilities to incorporate climate and natural disaster risks into their plans. This is becoming more and more important as these risks change and increase due to climate change.
I am bracing myself for more industrial buildout as the region’s petrochemical hub is being built all around me, but I am taking action. I have joined a community watchdog group called “Eyes On Shell,” and we will be holding the petrochemical industry accountable for our health and safety, especially for children who are vulnerable to pollution, like my three year-old-daughter.
It is important that the RMP rule provides increased availability of information, such as the requirement for facilities to provide chemical hazard information, names of regulated substances, accident history, and emergency response information upon request of community members. We need greater transparency of risks so that communities can be better prepared for emergencies. RMP facilities should be required to provide local emergency response teams with the information, equipment and training they need to safely deal with any chemical accidents.
It is important that the rule requires third party audits for all facilities, not just those with a bad track record of accidents. Also, publicly accessible real-time air quality monitoring for all potentially hazardous chemicals is needed so that potentially affected residents can take appropriate precautions during an accident. I support the proposed Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention rule and urge the EPA to further strengthen it to better protect all communities and the children who are some of the most vulnerable residents.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.