Sierra Club Win in WyCo!
The impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston area chemical facilities dramatically raised public awareness about the potential for toxic releases in their neighborhoods.
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that a Wyandotte Co. facility that manufactures, blends, repackages, and distributes a wide variety of commercial chemicals, including extremely hazardous substances, was in violation of federal laws enacted to protect workers and the public from chemical emergencies. A media release announcing the opportunity to provide public comment on the Consent Decree negotiated between Harcros Chemicals and the EPA and the Department of Justice appeared in several media outlets around the State.
The Kansas Sierra Club was approached by El Centro of Kansas City, Kan., a Latino community support organization, to consult on the Consent Decree. Richard Mabion and Elaine Giessel of the Chapter Executive Committee met with El Centro staff and discussed chemical safety and environmental justice issues.
As a result of the meeting, the Kansas Sierra Club submitted formal public comment to the Department of Justice (see lettes below). Subsequently, following several conference calls with the entities involved, the Chapter agreed to formally withdraw its comments in exchange for a commitment from Harcros Chemicals to work with surrounding communities on chemical emergency preparedness.
Because they pose serious risks to human health and the environment, chemical facilities must be in compliance with federal laws enacted to ensure safe operations. Proactive engagement of neighboring communities can provide critical information for improving chemical emergency preparedness, to protect workers, first responders, and local citizens.
Sierra Club will continue to use public comment opportunities and legal processes to ensure that companies are held accountable when they fail to protect public health and the environment. It is equally important that we build relationships with over-burdened communities who are often at greater risk of exposure to chemical emergencies.Giessel_HarcrosChemicalsSCcomments2