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Knowing Your Neighbor When Deadly Chemicals Are Next Door

photo by Jay Phagan

It’s especially critical in Texas to know if a nearby facility could cause a major accident. Dave Fehling from StateImpact Texas reports.

The state has 1,347 Risk Management Program (RMP) facilities that handle dangerous chemicals, which is the most facilities in the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated RMP after a poison-gas disaster in Bhopal, India. In the 1984, more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a nearby American pesticide plant killing at least 3,800 people, according to Environmental Health.

RMP requires facilities to work with the community by having Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) that are overseen by Department of Public Safety. The Railroad Commission of Texas also requires operators to have warning signs and fences around oil- and gas- producing sites where hydrogen sulfide gas is a danger.

A most recent example of these type of dangers is last month’s fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas killing 14 people, mostly firefighters. A KUT report states that the cause is still unknown, but the investigation will stay open.