xi's moments
Home | Americas

Chemical accidents occur every 2 days, data shows

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-07-29 09:31

Chemical incidents, including fires, explosions and toxic releases, are occurring far too frequently every year, harming workers and communities in the United States, said the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, or CPCD, a coalition of organizations concerned about environmental justice.

Some of the most recent incidents involve hazardous chemicals. On average, there is a chemical fire, explosion or toxic release every two days.

On July 20, almost 30 cars were damaged and hundreds of propane tanks were scattered around a neighborhood near Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, after an explosive fire at a nearby propane business.

Two days before, 62 campers and 12 staff members were exposed to the fungicide veltyma when a dusting plane sprayed a cornfield adjacent to the adventure camp in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. Then on July 15, a fire triggered explosions at a Dow Chemical plant on the Mississippi River, south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, showed that roughly 150 serious chemical incidents occur each year in the US. The number is derived from more than 11,000 facilities that are under the regulation of the EPA's risk management program. Those facilities store highly hazardous chemicals to prevent chemical disasters.

A study by the US Government Accountability Office last year showed that about a third — more than 3,200 chemical facilities — are in areas with certain natural hazards like wildfires and storm surges that may be worsened by climate change.

The CPCD maintains an incident database sourced from news, industry and government reports since 2020 to document all incidents that occur at facilities not regulated by the EPA.

It found that 177 chemical incidents occurred in 2021, 186 chemical incidents in 2022, and more than 100 incidents this year and counting.

Texas is the state with the most chemical incidents so far this year, with 25 chemical emergencies. Within a space of three days between July 12 and 15, three industrial fires occurred in the Houston area. A massive fire occurred in a plastic packaging facility in Humble, north of Houston. Another petrochemical pipeline fire occurred at another plastic factory in Alvin, and a third fire occurred at a massive scrap metal recycling facility in Katy, west of Houston.

Cleanup for one hazardous chemical incident is continuing nearly six months after it happened — the Feb 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals along a stretch of homes and businesses in East Palestine, Ohio.

The derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border caused thousands of people to evacuate when officials decided to blow open several tank cars filled with vinyl chloride.

Agencies contributed to this story.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349