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Jared Kushner finally granted his security clearance. Also on our nationwide rundown: a new lawsuit seeks the release of a gay man from ICE Detention in Pennsylvania; and protecting an Arizona water source for millions near Phoenix.

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Chemical Dangers: Report Finds Indiana First Responders May Be in Dark

PHOTO: A report from the Center for Effective Government finds residents and first responders may not be getting the information they need to prepare for potential chemical disasters. Photo credit: Schick/Morguefile.
PHOTO: A report from the Center for Effective Government finds residents and first responders may not be getting the information they need to prepare for potential chemical disasters. Photo credit: Schick/Morguefile.
April 17, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana tops the states listed in a new report identifying often unknown chemical dangers.

With today's second anniversary of a deadly explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, the Center for Effective Government examined significant chemical risks that may be unknown to first responders. Sean Moulton, director of the center's Open Government Policy program, said more than 420 Indiana facilities store more than 300 million pounds of nine of the most common hazardous chemicals.

"Indiana was the biggest of the gaps that we found, most facilities and the most chemicals in terms of volume," he said. "They're very toxic, they're flammable, some of them are explosive. They're clearly very dangerous."

The analysis found that these chemicals are not included in risk-management reports filed with the Environmental Protection Agency, and 85 percent of the facilities only report to state oversight agencies. Moulton said information on the chemicals used at facilities should be made public so first responders are prepared in an emergency.

Fifteen people died in the explosion in Texas, including 10 volunteer firefighters.

Public leaders have called for stronger chemical protections in the past two years, but Moulton said policies are not where they need to be.

The concern, he said, is that "the longer this takes, the further we get from West, Texas, then the less energy there'll be to make these changes because they're not going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of work."

The report recommended that all highly hazardous chemicals be added to the Risk Management program's list. Moulton added that state data should be combined with the federal Risk Management program and both be made available online.

The report is online at foreffectivegov.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN