Did you know that the Department of Homeland Security has identified over 4,997 "high-risk" chemical plants in the United States? Just 300 of these plants together put 110 million Americans at risk. And on April 2nd a refinery in Washington State blew up killing eight workers. Meanwhile, the failed May 1st car bomb in New York's Times Square was a grim reminder of our continuing vulnerability to terrorism.
The greatest risk posed by U.S. chemical plants is their use of huge quantities of poison gases such as chlorine. Fortunately, safer processes are available for virtually all of them. In fact, more than 287 chemical plants have switched to safer chemicals or processes over the last ten years. This common sense action has eliminated catastrophic risks to 38 million Americans. That's the good news.
The bad news is that most of the highest risk plants have NOT adopted safer processes -- and they won't until laws are passed that require them to do so. Since the 9/11 attacks, chemical industry lobbyists, including Dow, DuPont, BP and Exxon have blocked strong legislation. Greenpeace identified 169 lobbyists registered to keep Congress from enacting a strong chemical security law. But last November, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 2868) that will eliminate these risks.
It's now time for the U.S. Senate to do the same. Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced legislation, the Secure Water Facilities Act (S. 3598) and the Secure Chemical Facilities Act (S.3599) that would do just that. Tell your Senators to prevent a toxic nightmare in your community by co-sponsoring and voting for the the Secure Water Facilities Act (S. 3598) and the Secure Chemical Facilities Act (S. 3599).
Please use your power in the Senate to pass a law that ensures the use of safer, cost-effective chemical processes that eliminate these risks whether by accidents or terrorist attacks. Prevention is the only solution. As we have seen with disaster such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, once "fail safe" gadgets fail, it's too late to prevent a catastrophe.
The current temporary security law actually bars safer chemical processes from being required and exempts thousands of other high risk chemical plants entirely. Instead they depend on conventional security -- guards, gates, and fences. Conventional security will do nothing to reduce the staggering loss of life and injuries from a successful terrorist attack or accident.
The House of Representatives recently passed a bill (H.R. 2868) that will actually eliminate many of these risks by ensuring the use of cost-effective, safer chemical processes at the highest-risk plants. It's now up to the Senate to pass the Lautenberg legislation that truly protects our communities.
Thank you, I look forward to receiving your reply.