In the wake of the train derailment in Ohio, a new analysis shows chemical accidents are more common in the United States than previously thought. A map created by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters shows chemical-related incidents happen at a rate of one every two days.
The map, which allows viewers to see chemical-related incidents in their local areas, shines light on these accidents, which are “putting many communities in danger of the next equipment malfunction, fire, leak or spill,” EcoWatch reported.
“On average, there is a chemical fire, explosion or toxic release every two days in the U.S.,” the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters said.
So far, there have been more than 30 recorded incidents in 2023 (but that count could be higher because the coalition does not record incidents that lack enough information or precise location data), 188 incidents in 2022 and 177 in 2021 as recorded by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters.
The recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio is “one of 10 railway incidents the coalition has recorded since April 2020,” EcoWatch reported. But many of the accidents reported have been linked to industrial facilities where hazardous chemicals are made, used or stored. Around 124 million people, or 39 percent of the nation’s population live within 3 miles of an industrial facility, according to Poynter.
“What happened in East Palestine, this is a regular occurrence for communities living adjacent to chemical plants,” Mathy Stanislaus, former assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of land and emergency management during Barack Obama’s presidency, said. “They live in daily fear of an accident.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said was an average of 235 emergency response actions per year for over the last decade.
“Recent chemical disasters have highlighted shortcomings in federal regulations that fail to sufficiently protect workers and communities living near hazardous chemical facilities,” a recent letter to the EPA from 49 members of Congress, said.
The signees are calling on the EPA to make “amendments to the Risk Management Program, including transitioning to safer chemicals, requiring third-party audits and providing more information about emergency response plans, even before incidents occur,” EcoWatch reported.