skip to main content

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

play newscast audioPlay

Alabamans urge a grocery tax reduction, a tape shows Trump knew about a classified document on Iran, Pennsylvania puts federal road funds to work and Minnesota's marijuana law will wipe away minor offenses.

play newscast audioPlay

Democrats say a wealth tax would help alleviate some national debt, lawmakers aim to continue pandemic-era funding for America's child care sector, and teachers say firearms at school will make students less safe.

play newscast audioPlay

Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

Groups: EPA, Others Need to Step Up Oversight of Chemical Plants

play audio
Play

Friday, February 17, 2023   

Environmental groups in Illinois are pushing state and federal officials to tighten regulations on businesses that use toxic substances after a fire and explosion last month in north-central Illinois.

A Jan. 11 fire and explosion at a chemical company in La Salle spewed a cloud of toxic particles across the area. The city of 10,000 was covered with pink dust that contained sulfuric acid, lead and mercury.

Hannah Lee Flath, communications coordinator for the Sierra Club Illinois chapter, said it was clear the federal Environmental Protection Agency and its Illinois counterpart did not properly enforce existing regulations - and that local officials didn't have an adequate disaster plan.

"Wind and weather can carry ash and smoke widely, and so folks closest to the plant are certainly more impacted immediately," she said. "But we saw that pink material was landing on the Illinois River, and so it's very clear that it did travel."

Flath said she sees eerie similarities between the La Salle disaster and a recent incident in East Palestine, Ohio, where 20 derailed tanker cars burned and spread vinyl chloride and other toxins across the area.

The EPA and Carus Chemical Co. did not respond by deadline to a request for comment.

Flath said what happened in Illinois and Ohio are not isolated events, and both communities face long-term dangers from the toxic substances. Studies show that a chemical disaster occurs, on average, every three days in the United States, and often in less-than-affluent neighborhoods.

"These types of facilities are more frequently located in Black and Brown communities, lower-income communities that are already overburdened," she said. "Oftentimes, these types of plants are in locations that are already struggling because of other environmental issues and pollution."

Flath added that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups are working with the EPA and other agencies to develop proactive plans to protect communities, before and during chemical leaks.

"We're partnering with environmental-justice organizations and other groups who work on toxics issues," she said, "to urge the EPA and the Biden administration to make sure preventive measures are taken, to try to ensure these disasters don't happen in the first place."

Disclosure: Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Human rights advocates point out in 2023, North Dakota adopted nearly a dozen laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Human rights voices are calling attention to new North Dakota laws deemed hostile toward LGBTQ+ individuals, saying it is part of a movement led by …


Social Issues

play sound

In eastern Kentucky, advocacy groups are expanding summer learning opportunities for families. Isolation and learning loss plague many rural …

Social Issues

play sound

In 1968, Congress passed a law requiring the Food and Drug Administration to minimize people's exposure to wireless radiation, but the agency dropped …


The owners of Dokkaebier in Oakland said they have thrived after participating in a business accelerator program called the ICA Fund. (Mikey Maher)

Social Issues

play sound

Traditional business lending is tight these days following a series of recent bank collapses but one program is helping small businesses grow…

Environment

play sound

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates carbon dioxide pipelines, and is holding a two-day conference in Des …

The BLM manages over 48 million acres in Nevada, which equates to about 67-percent of the Silver State. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Nevadans will have the opportunity to learn more and weigh in on a proposed public lands rule that shifts the Bureau of Land Management's focus to pri…

Social Issues

play sound

In Tennessee and across the country, the rapidly growing Hispanic population made remarkable strides in college enrollment and educational attainment…

Social Issues

play sound

The moment Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law last week, several voter-advocacy groups filed lawsuits against it…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021