Map of “high risk” chemical plants in the USA

Since 9/11 governments and industry have argued that information on toxic substance storage must be kept secure in order to reduce the risk that acts of terrorism will cause the release of harmful materials. This view has reversed the trend towards community right-to-know that was evolving prior to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Whatever the merits of the two philosophies, Greenpeace USA has broken the taboo by publishing a map of what it calls “high risk chemical plants” in the USA. The map includes facility names, community, and types of chemicals stored.

Greenpeace claims that:

  • One in three Americans is at risk of a poison gas disaster by living near one of hundreds of chemical facilities that store and use highly toxic chemicals.
  • A chemical disaster at just one of these facilities could kill or injure thousands of people with acute poisoning.
  • Of the 12,440 chemical facilities that report their chemical disaster scenarios to the Environmental Protection Agency, Greenpeace has identified 473 chemical facilities across the U.S. that each put 100,000 people or more at risk.
  • Of those, 89 put one million or more people at risk up to 25 miles downwind from a plant.

Greenpeace offers the following caveats to its map:

  • All data is based on hand-written notes taken from reports issued to the Environmental Protection Agency by owners and operators of facilities through the Risk Management Program.
  • Inaccuracies may occur from human error or may be out of date as these reports are updated sporadically by companies either every five years or when a process change occurs at a facility.
  • All data is current as of October 2011.

To GallonDaily’s knowledge, no similar mapping based on current data is available for Canada.

The map is available at http://usactions.greenpeace.org/chemicals/map/

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