WASHINGTON—Today, the D.C. Circuit Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately implement the 2017 Chemical Disaster Rule, which requires industrial facilities to take steps to prevent chemical disasters. The rule was developed to protect first responders, workers and neighborhoods around chemical plants. The court found the EPA unlawfully suspended implementation of the rule under former Administrator Scott Pruitt. The case was brought by a coalition of groups representing workers, community members and scientists. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is part of the coalition.
Below is a statement by Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.
“This is a victory first and foremost for the neighborhoods most susceptible to dangerous and toxic chemical releases. Families who live under the shadows of chemical facilities deserve safer practices to prevent future disasters.
“As the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey approaches, chemical facilities must be better prepared to protect the communities where they do business. In the 17 months since the rule was unlawfully delayed, there have been at least 58 known chemical explosions, releases and accidents across the country. EPA needlessly blocked an important public protection that would have resulted in fewer chemical releases, causing direct harm to communities.
“A report by the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance found that African Americans and Latinos are more likely to live near industrial facilities and are disproportionately threatened by exposure to everyday pollution and chemical disasters. We can only hope that this kind of disregard for public safety—particularly for low-income communities and communities of color—will not continue to be a hallmark of President Trump’s EPA.”