Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
In Aftermath of West Explosion, Environmental Advocates Call on Legislature for Stronger Safety Standards, Oversight and Adequate Funding

In Aftermath of West Explosion, Environmental Advocates Call on Legislature for Stronger Safety Standards, Oversight and Adequate Funding

Ratings:
(0)
|Views: 15|Likes:
Published by ProgressTX
Joint statement from Public Citizen Texas, SEED Coalition, Environment Texas, Texas
League of Conservation Voters, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.
Joint statement from Public Citizen Texas, SEED Coalition, Environment Texas, Texas
League of Conservation Voters, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.

More info:

Published by: ProgressTX on Apr 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

07/13/2013

pdf

text

original

 
 
Contact: Tom “Smitty” Smith, 512-797-8468
In Aftermath of West Explosion, Environmental Advocates Call on Legislature forStronger Safety Standards, Oversight and Adequate Funding
(TEXAS) – Leaders of Texas’ environmental organizations called on state legislators to protect against thenext environmental disasters by passing tougher legislation requiring more inspections, frequentenforcement, increased disclosure of toxic threats, better use of the compliance history program and ensuringcitizens have the right to contested case hearings. Groups urge the Texas Legislature to act now, not waituntil the next legislative session in 2015.Over the last few weeks, several major man-made disasters have made the news:
 
An explosion at the West Fertilizer plant killed at least 15 people - mostly first responders;
 
The ExxonMobil Pegasus tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas forced residents from their homes,perhaps permanently; and
 
The fire at the ExxonMobil Beaumont refinery led to 12 workers being injured.Texas environmental organizations Public Citizen Texas, SEED Coalition, Environment Texas, TexasLeague of Conservation Voters, and Texas Campaign for the Environment released the following jointstatement regarding the importance of increased regulations:
All three of these tragedies took place at facilities that are supposed to be regulated andregularly inspected by federal and/ or state agencies. But years of state budget cuts andlax regulations have left communities at risk.
The West Fertilizer incident shows how badly the TCEQ has failed to protect Texans underGovernor Perry’s ‘business first’ administration. The TCEQ failed to inspect the plant evenafter three state and federal agencies found five violations at that plant over the last six years.The plant was operating without the proper permits and failed to properly train their workers,label dangerous products or to develop a worst case accident plan.Texas has a program that is supposed to target companies that have poor compliance recordswith extra inspections. The West Fertilizer plant was “unclassified” - meaning the TCEQdidn’t take the time to look at the plant’s record. Had TCEQ inspected the West Fertilizerfacility, we can only hope that they might have found the 270 tons of explosives at the siteand 15 people might not have died.
Budget cuts have real consequences. Over the last 4 years, funding for TCEQ has beencut back 34% and 295 employees have been laid off.
 
 
(Page 2 of 3)TCEQ doesn’t have nearly enough inspectors for the number of facilities it is responsible for.Facilities are not routinely inspected and the agency’s response to complaints is far fromadequate. In 2006, a nearby resident reported a gas leak at the West Fertilizer facility and ittook the TCEQ 11 days to travel the 17 miles from Waco to West to follow up. (Seewestfertilizerinfo.comfor TCEQ files.) A flash fire at Exxon’s Beaumont refinery on April17
th
, in which 12 workers were injured, further illustrates TCEQ’s ineffectiveness.
Leadership needs to improve regulations, not weaken them further.
Instead of addressing these existing problems, the Texas Legislature is currently consideringseveral bills that would further weaken the permitting and enforcement processes. A bill byRepresentative Wayne Smith, HB 1714, would eliminate public disclosure of the state’sevaluation of company compliance histories and make it even more difficult to distinguish thebad actors from the good actors. Additionally, the Texas Senate may soon debate SB 957 bySenator Troy Fraser, which would limit citizens’ rights to have contested case hearings onnew or modified permits for facilities.With our state and federal agencies too understaffed to inspect existing facilities, publicoversight during the permitting process and throughout the lifetime of a facility is essential toprotecting public health and safety.
Ruptured pipelines can be just as dangerous to our local communities.
Recently, the 65-year old repurposed Pegasus pipeline near Little Rock, Arkansas ruptured,spilling toxic tar sands over a neighborhood near a lake. The same Pegasus pipeline runsdiagonally through Texas from DeKalb to Corsicana and then back toward Houston. Noagency was required to inspect this line prior to repurposing to ensure it was safe enough tocarry tar sands.First responders weren’t adequately prepared for the toxicity of chemicals used to dilute thetar sands due to a lack of information. Benzene, which can cause cancer, has now beenmeasured at the spill site in concentrations 22 times more than limit at which the NationalInstitute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends wearing special breathingequipment.Now Texans are also faced with the repurposed Seaway tar sands pipeline and the nearlyfinished Keystone XL southern segment, which will both be tar sands accidents just waiting tohappen. The legislature needs to amend the Railroad Commission Sunset bill or one of thepipeline common carrier bills to ensure that neighbors and first responders know what toxicchemicals are being used in the tar sands pipelines. Full and complete disclosure is needed toensure public safety.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->