In 2013, after more than 80,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 15 people and injuring 160 more at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, stronger environmental regulations were put in place under President Obama about the storage and handling of dangerous chemicals.
Now, following years of predictable complaints from companies that these regulations "imposed too much of a burden," reports the Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump has undone them.
"Companies will not have to provide public access to information about what kinds of chemicals are stored on their sites," Eilperin reports. "They also will not have to undertake several measures aimed at preventing accidents, such as analyzing safer technology and procedures, conducting a 'root-cause analysis' after a major chemical release or obtaining a third-party audit when an accident has occurred."
Elena Craft, senior director of climate and health at the Environmental Defense Fund, tells Eilperin, "Given the EPA is first and foremost a public health agency, it is unconscionable that the Trump administration would gut key protections for emergency responders and people living near facilities that handle potentially dangerous chemicals. We need more-detailed emergency plans, increased transparency and safer technology. This action moves in the wrong direction when it’s clear that the cost of chemical disasters is far greater than keeping communities safe.”
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