the Press,
the Public*
  A Journalist's Guide to Reporting on
    Chemicals in the Community
       Second Edition
     The National Safety Council's

     Environmental Health Center
    1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW« Suite 1200
       Washington, DC 20036
         (202) 293-2270

         March 2000

A publication of the National Safety Council's

Environmental  Health Center
   1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW« Suite 1200
   Washington, DC 20036
   Telephone number: (202) 293-2270
   Fax: (202) 293-0032

   Copyright © 2000 by the National Safety Council's Environmental 'Health
Center. Permission to reproduce portions of this guide is granted with the
accompanying credit line: "Reprinted from Chemicals, the Press, and the
Public with permission from the National Safety Council's Environmental
Health  Center,  March 2000."
   The Environmental Health Center produced this guide under cooperative
agreement CX 826604-01-0 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
It is part of a series of publications on the Risk Management Program Rule
and issues related to chemical emergency management.
   Cover photo: Photo taken in Sterlington, Louisiana, May 1, 1991. Reprinted
with the permission of News-Star, Margaret Croft. Copyright © 1991 News-Star.
For More Information
   The National Safety Council maintains the Crossroads Web site at
http://www.crossroads.nsc.org as a resource supplement to this series of
publications. The site has Risk Management Program-related links to
organizations, regulations, chemicals, rules, and regulations involved in
emergency management and the safe handling of chemicals and other
safety, health, and environmental issues. A selection of articles and papers
written about the Risk Management Program Rule and local efforts to
identify and analyze risk in the community is also included. The site will be
constantly expanding  as industry and communities develop new information
required under the Risk Management Program Rule.

March 2000
   Environmental journalists have a new weapon in their arsenal
for better informing their audiences about potential risks and
hazards close to home. The new tool provides, them with one more
powerful resource for better informing their print and broadcast
audiences on how to reduce potentially risky exposures and, better
yet, how to help avoid exposures in the first place.
   The 1990 Glean Air Act's Section 112(r) paved the way for
journalists and the public to access the new chemical "risk man-
agement plan" (RMP) information, but the data itself first became
widely available online and in hard copy only in the summer of
1999, after much controversy over just how much—and which
parts—of the information would even be distributed electronically.
   The RMP information comes on the heels of another three-letter
acronym well known to environmental journalists: TRI, or the
toxics release inventory, is also available electronically to provide
reporters, the public, and local emergency response teams accurate
information on facilities' on-site inventories and releases of toxic
   One more acronym, again one well known to environmental
journalists, is RTK, or right to know. RTK is the movement that got
a major boost in 1986 with passage of the Emergency Planning and
Community Right to Know Act (EPGRA) as part of the Superfund
amendments passed that year. Consider this formula:

                        RMP = TRI + RTK

   The RMP program, the subject of this sequel to the Environmen-
tal Health Center's 1989 Chemicals, the Press & the Public report-
er's guide on the TRI program, is the progeny  of more than a
decade of experience with TRI and RTK generally. In the current
vernacular, reporters might look to RMP as something of a TRI on
steroids. Or perhaps Viagra.
   Just how, and how effectively, the media uses this new trove of
hazardous chemical information remains to be seen. The data
available clearly are more specific, and therefore more powerful,
than what facilities previously had been required to report. Reporting

IV	.	.	

facilities now must make public potential risks posed to surround-
ing communities.
   But reporting on local facilities' efforts to prevent accidents from
happening in the first place may be just the "day-one" story.
Reporters and their audiences might find equally appetizing the
"day-two" story of just what local governments and policy makers
are doing, and in some cases perhaps not doing, with the newly
available information to make disaster and accident prevention a
reality and not solely a paper or academic exercise.
   The information power represented by the RMP program is
considerable. But data have limits and recognizing both the
strengths and the practical limitations of the RMP data is key to
responsible and knowledgeable reporting in  this area. As did its
predecessor reporter's guide  Chemicals,  the Press & the Public, this
guide seeks to help journalists—and through the media, the public
generally—get every last ounce  of useful information out of the
RMP program information. Equally, it seeks to help them recognize
the inherent limitations—where, as  they say, the dog just won't
fight. At that point, of course, additional enterprise reporting
becomes key.
   How  communities themselves will choose to use the newly
available RMP  information likely will vary from place to place, but
that factor cannot and should not influence the media's responsibil-
ities to provide the relevant  information as clearly and as accurate-
ly as possible.
   Study after study reinforces that most of the people most of the
time get most of their information on the environment from the
mass media. That's a sobering burden that both delights and
somewhat scares responsible journalists having to shoulder that
   Through the RMP program as it has built on and expanded its
RTK and TRI roots, society has  provided itself and its news media
with a new tool for staying abreast of potential community risks
from hazardous chemicals. With that new tool goes journalists'
responsibility to use it wisely. We hope this  reporter's guide will
prove useful in meeting that objective.
  Bud Ward
  Executive Director
  Environmental Health Center, National Safety Council
  Washington, DC

         Table  of  Contents

 Chapter 1: Introduction and Background	,	,		1
 Accident Prevention—the New Name of the Game	 1
 What to Expect from this Book	 2
 Why Cover Hazardous Chemical Stories'?	2
 Ten Years of Toxic Release Inventory	4
 Chemicals—Substances with an Image Problem	5
 Chemical Regulation and the Role of the Media	6
 Regulation Through Information	8
 Sources of Chemical Releases	9
 Government Agency Roles  in Chemical Releases and Exposure .. 10

 Chapter 2: Tales from the Trenches: Reporters' War Stories	—13
 Finding and Digging for Hidden Treasure with a Computer.....	 13
 Realizing the Pitfalls: Data Are Only Human	 15
 Understanding the Annual Release of TRI Data	15
 Reporting the National Overviews	 17
 Reporting on Chemical Hazards in the  Community	 18

 Chapter 3: The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act:
 Key Provisions	,	19
 Emergency Planning (Sections 301-303)	,	 19
 Emergency Release Notification (Section 304)	 23
 Hazardous Chemical Reporting (Sections 311-312)..	24
     Reporting Method One: Material Safety Data Sheets	25
     Reporting Method Two: Annual Inventories	25
 Toxic Chemical Release Reporting and Inventory (Section 313).. 26
 Trade Secrets: The One Exception (Section 322)	27
 Enforcement Provisions (Section 325)	 28

 Chapter 4: The 1990 Clean Air Act and the Risk
 Management Program	.	...........—		..—29
 The Risk Management Program of the 1990 Glean Air Act:
A Summary	30
     The General Duty Clause	30
     The List of Covered Substances	30
     Regulations for Accident Prevention	31


Risk Management Plans 	.',.	•	32
State and Local Risk Management Program Implementation	33
The  Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board	34
The  OSHA Process Safety Management Standard	34
Three Levels of Stringency	-• 35
     Program 1	•	'- 3^
     Program 2	— 3^
     Program 3	•	•— 36
The  Contents of a Risk Management Plan	3°
     The Offsite Consequence Analysis	•••• 3^
          Receptors	•••• 3'
          The Worst-Case Scenario	•— 3&
          Alternative Scenarios	•— 3^
     The Five-Year Accident History	•••• 39
     Prevention Programs	•••• 3^
The  Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and Fuels
Regulatory Relief  Act	•••• 40

Chapter 5: Reporting on Chemical Emergency Prevention and
Preparedness	®
Looking at Risk Management Plans	44
     Program Classification	44
     Hazard Assessment	•— 44
     The Offsite Consequence Analysis	'•••• 44
     The Five-Year Accident History	— 45
     Multiple Processes in One Facility	46
     Natural Hazards	— 46
     Power Supply and Computer/Communications Systems	.....46
     The Prevention Program	47
     RMP Versus  LEPC Emergency Plans	48
Looking for  Prevention Measures Beyond those Required	 48
Writing a Story: Questions to Consider	•••• 49
     Questions for Plant Managers	— 49
     Questions for the LEPC	•••• 50
     Questions Beyond the RMP	51
     Questions to Answer for Citizens	52

Chapter 6: When the Siren Sounds: Reporting on a
Chemical  Emergency	53
Preparation  Before Heading for the Emergency Site	53
A Reporter's Safety Checklist	'•••• 54
Questions to Ask  at the Site	•••• 54


     The Particular Chemicals and the Release	54
     Meteorological Factors	55
     Physical Surroundings and the Community	55
     Health Risks	55
 Questions to Ask After the Event	57
     Follow-Up Questions	57
     Questions for the LEPC	58
     Questions for Emergency Response Officials	58

 Chapter 7: Reporting on Routine Chemical Releases		.59

 Chapter 8: Your Computer as a Reporting Tool....	„	63
 National Databases	64
     The Toxic Release Inventory	64
     RMP*Info™	;	64
     Envirofacts Warehouse	64
     Chemical Scorecard	65
     RTKNet	65
     Others	65
 General Project and Stoiy Ideas	 65
     Accident History	65
     Federal-State Comparisons	65
     Cancer and Disease Incidence	65
     Cumulative Exposure	66
     Pollution Database Consistency	66
     OSHA Violations	66
     Chemicals of Concern	66
     Nationwide Company Performance	67
     Local Laws, Programs, and Codes	67
Mapping Project and Story Ideas	67
     Map the Footprints	68
     Map Vulnerable People	68
     Describe Vulnerable  Populations	'.	68
     Map Zoning Restrictions	68
     Examine Government Programs	 69
     Map Cumulative Exposures	69
     Map Weather, Climate, and Hydrological Data	69
     Map Natural Resource Data	 69
     Map Transport Routes	69
Some Issues and Cautions	70

viii	.	:	

Chapter 9: Deciphering Hazards and Risks	•» ft
Hazard Versus Risk	;- 71
Gonditions and Factors Affecting Chemical Hazards	 73
     Chemical Reactions	•• 7^
     Amount, Rate, and Duration of Release	•• 73
     Weather Conditions	74
     Physical State	74
     Flammable Chemicals	74
     Vapor Pressure	:- 7^
     Density	•• 7S
Toxicology for Journalists: How Toxic Is Toxic?	76
Health Effects	'• 77
Facility Safety: A Key Risk Factor	78
     The Past Is Prelude to the Future	79
     Safe Facilities Have Several High-Level Personnel
     Anticipating and Addressing Chemical Safety Problems	79
     Budget Allocations Suggest Priorities	•• 79
     Emergency Response Is Built on Strong Industry-
     Government Working Relationships	•• 79
     Safe Facilities Encourage and Learn from Community Input .,..80
     Safe Facilities Are Situated in Communities with High
     Safety Standards and Regular Inspection Programs	 80
     Effective and Assertive LEPCs Result in Strong
     Emergency Management Programs	•• 80
     Safe Facilities Operate in Communities with Alert
     Local Media	81
     Safe Facilities Are Concerned About Security	'.. 81
Community Reaction	•• 82
Tips for Interpreting the Statistics of Risk	82

Chapter 10: Using the RMP's Offsite Consequence Analysis to Identify
Community Hazards	-87
Predicting the Extent of Harm from Chemical Incidents	..88
Predicting Harm from Flammable Chemicals	90
Predicting the Potential Hazard Zone—the Distance to Endpoint	90
Understanding the Worst-Case Scenario	92
Understanding How Alternative Release Scenarios Differ from
Worst-Case Scenarios	94

Chapter 11: TRI and RMP: What They Can't Tell You	...95
TRI Data Limitations	•• 95
     The Data Are Estimates, Not Monitored Releases	95
     The Timing of Releases Need Not Be Reported	95


     Data on Human Exposure Is a Major Gap	96
     Reductions May Be "Real" or "Paper"	96
     The List Is a Moving Target	96
     The Facilities Covered Change	97
     Chemical May Have Many Names	97
     The Scope of Coverage Is Limited	97
 RMP Data Limitations	'.	98
     Not All Hazardous Substances Are Covered	98
     Not All Scenarios Are Listed	98
     Chronic  Risks Are Not Addressed	98
     Transportation Hazards Are Not Included	99
     Not All Health Effects Are Known	99
     Only a Summary of the RMP Must Be Submitted	99

 Chapter 12: lips on Getting Offsite Consequence Information......	101
 Getting Information from LEPGs and SERCs	 101
 Getting Information from Facilities	 102
 Attending Public Meetings....	 102
 Finding Other Information  Sources	'.	103

 Chapter 13: Some Issues for Journalists and LEPCs	105
 Reporters and Emergency Preparedness	 105
 The One Important Question	 106
 A Focus on  Prevention	 107

 Selected References and Links		..	109
 Federal Organizations	 109
 Nonfederal Organizations	:	Ill
 Federal Data Sources	.,	 112
 Nonfederal Data Sources	 113
 Bibliography	 113
 Regulations/Guidance Documents	 116
Journalism	 116

Glossary.	.—	117

Acronym List.			123

                      The Bhopal Disaster
   Just after midnight on Decembers, 1984, many residents of Bhopal,
India, (population 900,000) awoke with their eyes burning and cough-
ing and gasping for breath. A toxic cloud was drifting through the
shantytown neighborhoods surrounding the  plant where Union
Carbide of India, Ltd., was manufacturing pesticides to help Indian
farmers feed a booming population. For nearly two hours, a deadly
cloud of some 40 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate crept alongthe ground
5  miles downwind. Few of those rubbing their  eyes and stumbling
outdoors had any idea what was happening;  most could do little to
protect themselves.
   The uncontrolled release killed approximately  1,430 people imme-
diately, and more than 3,800 died by 1991.  Many thousands more
were injured-possibly 20,000 were severely injured (many totally dis-
abled), and another 186,000 were less severely injured. Deaths and;
injuries were worst among the desperately poor who lived just outside
the chemical plant's fence.  But the numbers  will never be very pre-
cise, because information was scarce.
   The investigations that followed, conducted by Union Carbide arid
various  Indian government agencies and outside panels, probably
never got the whole truth. Politics, emotion, self-interest,  information
suppression, and contamination; of evidence  clouded almost all
attempts to describe what happened. By most accounts, however, it
was clearly the biggest industrial disaster in modern times.
   Union Carbide, one of the largest corporations in the world at the
time, faced more than $3 billion in liability claims from the Indian
government. The  Indian government  accused the company and  its
U.S. officials of criminal  homicide. The company accepted  "moral
responsibility"  and, eventually, $470 million in liability, but it empha-
sized its own investigators'  conclusions-that the release had been
caused by sabotage by a disgruntled employee.  Other accounts pointed
to error, negligence, and bad maintenance by the plant's operators or
to an inherently unsafe size and design imposed on the plant by the
U.S. parent company's engineers.
   Bhopal was a disaster waiting to happen. Warnings of all kinds
were  ignored. The back-up safety systems didn't work-temperature
and pressure gauges, refrigeration.units, gas scrubber, flare tower,
water curtain, overflow tanks, and alarm signals. Plant operators failed
to respond promptly or effectively to instrument readings and other
signs. In  May 1982, a Union Carbide safety team from the U.S. head-
quarters  had reported the potential for just this kind of accident. And
a series  of local  newspaper articles before the incident had warned
residents of the hazards.
   The Bhopal plant disaster was a warning  that Congress heeded
when it passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know
Act of 1986, which had been known as the "Bhopal bill."

 	          Chapter   1

 Introduction and  Background

 In the summer of 1999, a new generation of hazardous chemical
 information went online and became available to reporters and the
 public. Even before its release, it generated intense controversy.
   June 1999 was the deadline for approximately 64,000 facilities to
 file their risk management plans (RMPs) required by Section 112(r)
 of the Glean Air Act (GAA). The law was amended in August 1999
 by the Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and Fuels
 Regulatory Act (P.L. 106-40) to exempt about half of those facilities
 from reporting—primarily those selling propane and other flamma-
 ble fuels.
   The RMPs contain chemical hazard data that are more specific
 than companies were previously required to report. For example,
 companies must identify potential hazards and the possible  harm
 these chemicals could do to surrounding communities. These
 analyses, referred to as offsite consequence analyses (OCAs),
 include both "worst-case scenarios" and "alternative (or  more
 realistic) scenarios."
  The law requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
 (EPA) to make the RMPs available to the public. In fact, public
 disclosure of the RMP data has become a big story itself.  The
 August amendments strictly limited the dissemination of the OCA
 information for at least 1 year. By August 2000, EPA must assess
 the risks and benefits and issue regulations about how the OCA
 data will be disseminated. Executive summaries and other RMP
 information are available on the Internet through EPA's
 RMP*Info™. In addition, most of the facilities reporting under the
 law are required to hold a public meeting to discuss their RMPs,
 including OCA information.

 Accident Prevention—the  New Name of the Game
The real news about the RMPs and other provisions of  the 1990 law
 is that they provide additional incentive for companies, communi-
 ties, and reporters to focus on preventing accidents from happening
in the first place. Perhaps the other real news is that, while the
 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act
(EPCRA) required committees of local emergency officials to file

plans, the RMP Rule requires the companies to file plans. The
question is shifting from "What is the local government doing to
prevent disaster?" to "What is the company  doing to prevent
   The good news is that companies can do a lot today to reduce
the likelihood that accidents will happen or that accidents will
harm people if they do happen. Many of these strategies also help
reduce routine toxic emissions. Some examples include using up
dangerous chemicals as soon as they are produced to keep the,
onsite inventory down, using safer chemicals, and handling chemi-
cals at lower temperatures and pressures. Good operating proce-
dures, good operator training, and good maintenance are other
   Still, chemical hazards cannot be prevented unless they are first
understood and foreseen, and good information is one of the key
ingredients in managing these hazards. The stories of almost all the
terrible chemical disasters of the last century can easily be told as
stories of warnings  unheeded. It isn't necessary to wait for disasters
to happen.

What to  Expect from this Book
This book provides a summary of the requirements for RMPs and
related activities and the requirements under EPGRA. This book
attempts to explain not only the enormous potential of the avail-
able chemical information, but also the limitations of the data. It
provides tools and tips to help you interpret  the chemical risk
information. It includes some examples of reporters' actual experi-
ences reporting on  chemicals in the community, some tips and
insights on reporting on chemical emergency planning and actual
chemical emergencies, and a discussion of some of the limitations
of the chemical hazard data. Several sections of the  book contain
lists of suggested questions. These are among the most important
tools in this book.
   The RMPs are typically full of the technical jargon. This book  .
attempts to decode some of it. But to get the real story, reporters
may have to pursue company officials into technical thickets
beyond the scope of this book. However, this book will try to lead
you to sources that can help.

Why Cover Hazardous  Chemical Stories?
If you are a reporter or producer, you may have had to pitch a
toxic chemical story to a skeptical editor. Maybe the front page was
crowded with train wrecks, politics, and crime, and your editor

 wanted to ksow why there was a story if nobody had been killed.
 According to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
 (GSB) (1999), toxic and hazardous chemicals do kill an average of
 more than 250 people every year.
    Fortunately, the disastrous explosions that make electrifying
 footage are fairly rare. That's part of what makes them news. But
 there's a lot  more to the story. Smaller releases injure or kill
 workers almost daily. They can also  force people from their homes>
 snarl freeway traffic, make asthmatic children wheeze, and disrupt
 lives in other ways.  The chronic everyday leaks and emissions of
 toxic pollutants in some places are suspected of causing elevated
 rates of cancer,  birth defects, and neurological and reproductive
 disorders. In many towns, jobs are at stake or are perceived to be.
    Information about the risks of hazardous chemicals is a very hot
 commodity.  Environmental groups strive to get it into public hands,
 sometimes magnifying the risks. Chemical companies  have lobbied
 and litigated against disclosure at the national level, sometimes
 downplaying the risks or citing new risks from terrorism or sabo-
 tage. People's lives and health can depend not only on the availabil-
 ity of the information, but also on its accuracy and realism.
 Consider some examples.
   A huge explosion devastated the Terra Nitrogen Company
 fertilizer plant near Sioux City, Iowa, on December 13, 1994. Four
 people died and 18 people went to the hospital. More than 5,700
 tons of anhydrous ammonia spilled, and nitric acid and liquid
 ammonium nitrate also spilled in large amounts. A cloud of toxic
 ammonia lingered for 6 days, spreading for miles around the plant.
 About 2,500  people were evacuated.
   A subsequent EPA investigation showed many problems. Safety
 audits had been  inadequate. There were no written procedures for
 safe operation of the plant. Employees said they were unaware of
 the hazards of ammonium nitrate. Four years later, Terra admitted
 that by failing to report some 17 million pounds of toxic chemical
 releases to the environment in 1994,  the company had hidden the
 fact that it was one of the largest emitters of toxic substances in the
   The General Chemical plant near Richmond, California, drew up
 a worst-case scenario for a chemical release from its facilities,  as
 required by state law. Company officials predicted a worst-case
 accident would affect people no farther than 1% miles away. Then
 on July 26, 1993, a release of sulfuric acid mist (sulfur  trioxide)
from the General Chemical plant sent 24,000 people to clinics and
emergency rooms.  People were affected more than 9 miles away.
  Many communities will be interested in learning about hazard-
ous chemicals that can jeopardize their health.  They will also be

interested in finding out the level of risk posed by local facilities.
Chemical hazards are more likely to be addressed if local stake-
holders—people who would be affected by an accident—know
about potential problems and have a say in the solution. Stakehold-
ers include individuals such as company managers, workers, and
stockholders; neighboring residents and workers; and local officials.
   Different communities will reach different decisions about the
information they learn from RMPs. According to Carole L. Macko of
EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office,
"The final evaluation of risk will be made by the public and local
officials at the local level." Audiences will be interested in the
reactions of local emergency authorities, government officials,
business leaders, facility managers, neighbors, and environmental
groups to RMP content. News coverage can help people  evaluate
their options. Some  communities may think they have to live with
poorly managed hazards when there may be alternatives. Once they
know about hazards and risks, communities can choose to use or
ignore that knowledge. But without local coverage, RMPs will be like
the proverbial tree that fell in the remote forest without being heard.

Ten  Years of Toxic Release  Inventory
In 1986, Congress gave journalists a valuable tool when it passed
EPCRA, in many ways the first full-fledged chemical right-to-kriow
law.  The law, which was  not fully implemented for several more
years,  did four important things:

   *  It set up a state  and local  institutional structure to plan for
     chemical emergencies and required the response plans to be
     made public.
   »  It required plants to notify local, state, and federal authorities
     when a major  release  occurred.
   •»  It required companies to estimate and report their toxic
     releases to EPA and state agencies.
   *  It required EPA to collect  this information in a national
     database (the Toxic Release Inventory) and make it available
     to the public.

   The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database gave environmental
reporters more than just handy local statistics—it gave them a
powerful investigative tool.  Suddenly reporters could look at
patterns of pollution in all kinds of meaningful ways. For example,
reporters could examine the environmental performance of a single
large company in many sites across the country. Reporters  could
locate  the hotspots of pollution by a single toxic substance like

         , & known carcinogen. Reporters could compare the
 releases companies were reporting with information from other
 sources (such as state or federal permit programs) to determine
 whether companies were doing what they said they were.
    TRI has become a "meat-and-potatoes"  story—a reliable, stable
 source of stories on the environmental beat. The stories tend to ask
 and answer some basic questions. Who are the worst polluters in
 our area or state? How does our state match up against others? Are
 we doing better than last year?
    Because the TRI has now accumulated more than-10 years of
 data, it can be used to analyze important pollution trends (see
 figure 1). EPA and others have made enormous strides in integrat-
 ing TRI with many other EPA databases and environmental data-
 bases by using standardized facility identification numbers and
 geographical information systems. New user-friendly front ends like
 EPA's Envirofacts Warehouse (http://www.epa.gov/enviro) and the
 Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Chemical Scorecard (http.7/
 www.scorecard.org) have made using the data much easier to use.

 Chemicals—Substances with an  Image Problem
 The word "chemical" carries negative baggage. People are often
 suspicious about the harm (e.g., cancer, birth defects, reproductive
   Top 10O ZIP Codes for Total TRI Releases in 1996
    Relative Sizes of Largest 1OO
    Chemical Releases in 1996
    Largest release (65,000,000 pounds)
    20,000,000 pounds
    2,000,000 pounds
Figure 1: When the ZIP Codes with the greatest total TRI releases are plotted,
their concentration in certain industrial and mining areas is obvious. Source:
1996 .TRI Public Data Release Report.

and neurological disorders) chemicals can cause. But without
chemicals, we could not feed the world, drive our cars, cure dis-
ease, print newspapers, or use computers.
  Most of our physical world consists of chemicals. But when we
use the word, we often mean compounds that have been synthe-
sized by chemists or that are used in industrial processes.
  The media often gets caught up in this emotional portrayal of
chemicals and their risks and benefits to society. This is under-
standable. On the one hand, the chemical and manufacturing  ;
industries have  public relations machinery telling us that chemicals
are the answer to our problems, that the risks they present are
negligible and under control, and that any further government
control of those risks is unnecessary. On the other hand, environ-
mental and health groups raise concerns about cancer clusters,
contamination in the water and air, and the harm that potential
chemical spills might do to neighbors of chemical plants.
  Chemicals have numerous benefits in today's world. Without
sewage treatment and drinking water purification—processes that
involve chemicals—sickness and death from waterborne diseases
like typhoid and cholera would not have been largely eliminated.
Chlorine and chlorine compounds play a key role in  water disinfection
and in the synthesis of many chemicals used in modern life.
Chemistry also played a big role in the development of antibiotics,
which  have cut death rates from infectious disease worldwide.
Synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, along with improved
seed, helped increase production and fuel the "Green  Revolution,"
which  has reduced starvation in much of the world.
  Our society's confidence in chemicals began to  dwindle in 1962
with the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. At this time
it was  also discovered that insecticides like DDT, relied on for
their dramatic help in controlling crop pests and human disease,
were persisting in the environment and accumulating in living
creatures, with  devastating effects. By the end of 1962, some 40
pesticide regulation bills had been introduced in various state

Chemical Regulation and the  Role of the Media
The rise of the environmental movement and the institutionalization
of environmental controls in the 1970s and 1980s often occurred
through a crisis-and-response process. A 3-million-gallon oil spill in
the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969 led Congress to  give the Coast
Guard  and EPA oil spill response authority in Section 311 of the
1972 Clean Water Act. The seepage of toxins into the basements of
the people of Love Canal, New York, in 1976-1978 led to the

 Superhwd hazardous waste cleanup law in 1980. The Bhopal disaster
 of 1984 led to the passage of EPGRA in 1986. The Exxon Valdez spill
 of 1989 brought passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
    The press has typically played a role in publicizing a threat or a
 crisis. But it has been less involved in covering the political ins and
 outs of legislative solutions or in the tedious technical and regulato-
 ry process of implementing environmental laws. That job has too
 often been left to the specialized trade and business press. The
 result is that average citizens often know little about what, if
 anything, the government is doing to protect them against hazard-
 ous chemical risks.
   When the president signs a major environmental bill, it gets on
 the nightly television news. But the story isn't over at that point. If
 the press doesn't follow up on legislative or regulatory action to make
 sure government is doing its job, the public may go unprotected.
   An example is the hazardous air pollutant provisions of the 1977
 Glean Air Act Amendments That law required EPA to set national
 emission standards for hazardous air pollutants. But by 1990, EPA had
 set standards for only seven of the hundreds of toxic or hazardous air
 pollutants to which people are exposed, in part because scientists are
 unable to identify an air concentration or exposure level  at which the
 risk to health is zero for many of these pollutants.  Even at infinitesi-
 mal amounts, these pollutants can present risks, although the risks
 may be infinitesimal. Setting standards for some toxic air pollutants
 would have removed them from commerce altogether.
  There was no perceived "crisis." Health and environmental
 groups complained, but the deadlock got little press attention.
 News consists of something happening, and this  story was about
 something not happening—and something dry and technical to
 boot. Congress finally tried to fix the situation in the 1990 GAA.
 The 1990 law took a new approach based  on industry sectors and
 best achievable technology.
  The 13 years of paralysis on air toxics from 1977 to 1990 is an
 example of the perfect being enemy of the  good. It also  demonstrates
 the shortcomings of the way the press (and environmental health
 advocates and the public) often look at risk. Readers, viewers,
 listeners, and editors may simply want to know if a thing is true or
 untrue, safe or unsafe, and have little patience for shades of gray.
  Toxics become news when  a camera crew finds a weeping mother
whose child has been stricken with leukemia or when a  siren sounds
 and a thick, black cloud towers above the local petrochemical
 refinery. But the quiet, everyday stories are just as important.
  Once TRI data started to be reported in the late 1980s, people
started to get a concrete sense of the huge amounts of toxic and
hazardous pollutants emitted every year (figure 2). The estimate

for 1988, the first year for which TRI data were reported, was that
U.S. facilities released 3.35 billion pounds of toxic substances to
air, water, and land. And most of these releases were completely
Regulation Through Information
EPGRA embodied some rather revolutionary ideas about govern-
ment. Part of the philosophy was "forewarned is forearmed."
EPGRA came at a time when there was very little effective govern-
ment regulation of toxic air emissions. The hope of some of the
bill's supporters was that if the American public was really aware of
the problem, something might be done to reduce risks.
   While there may be no scientific proof that EPGRA reduced
hazardous chemical releases, the evidence is abundant. During the
first 10 years of TRI reporting, the estimated releases of toxic
substances have dramatically and steadily reduced. Releases of
core chemicals—those that have been reported consistently for the
entire 10 years—decreased by 1.53 billion pounds from 1988 to
1996, a decline of 45.6%. (figure 3). The largest reduction by weight
was in air emissions (1.10 billion pounds or 49.8%). In terms of
percentage reduction, the largest decrease was in surface water
discharges (119.4 million pounds or 72.
         Top  1O Chemicals Released by Weight
                  as listed in 1996 TRI Report
  Hydrochloric Acid
   Carbon Disuffide

   Zinc Compounds
 Nitrate Compounds
                      50     100     150     200     250
                          Millions of Pounds Released
Figure 2: The importance of particular chemical releases depends on the chronic
or acute toxicity of the chemical, as well as whether it is transformed to a less
harmful substance after entering the environment. Source: 1996 TRI Public Data
Release Report.

   Distribution of TRI Onsite arid Offsite Releases

II)  3,000.000.000-

_  2.500.000,000-
E  2.000,000,000-

°  1.500,000,000-

Jj  1.000,000.000-

5   500.000,000-


                                         I   I Air
                                             Surface Water
                                             Underground Injection
                                             Onsite Land Releases
                                             Transfers Offsite to Disposal
Figure 3: The general downtrend in TRI releases over a decade resulted not only
from changes in the list of chemicals but also from real pollution reductions.
Source: 1996 TRI Public Data Release Report.

   Why believe the reduced releases were caused by TRI? One
reason is relatively few major new regulatory requirements limiting
toxic releases were issued during that period. The requirements of
the GAA didn't start kicking in until the period was mostly over.
   Some of the evidence is anecdotal and subjective, but chemical
executives have acknowledged the impact. "The law is having an
incredible effect on industries to reduce emissions,  and that's
good," Tom Ward of Monsanto told the Iowa's Quad City Times in
the June 8, 1990. "There's not a chief executive officer around who
wants to be the biggest polluter in Iowa." The Los Angeles Times
reported in the December 9, 1991, issue that Caspian Inc., a
California metal milling and finishing firm, found itself ranked as
the 55th largest emitter of carcinogenic air pollutants in the United
States. The firm responded by developing a water-based coating
that could be substituted for one containing the carcinogen per-
chloroethylene. It reduced its toxic emissions 60% in the first year
and eventually by more than 99%.
Sources of Chemical Releases
A reporter or producer thinking about chemical emergencies and
toxic releases will find more stories by thinking "outside the box."
The big chemical companies have usually done far more safety
engineering than other companies. If you think your viewer or

reader area doesn't have chemical risks because it has no big
chemical plants, you may be missing the story.
   For example, accidents and releases occur most often at fuel-
handling facilities, including propane dealers. The second most
common "accident-prone" facilities are municipal drinking water
purification and sewage treatment facilities. Both store and use
large quantities of chlorine, a highly dangerous gas, to disinfect
water. Agricultural retailers make up a major group of the facilities
required to file RMPs. They may handle such things as fuels,
pesticides, anhydrous ammonia, and ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
   Many different industrial sectors can present chemical hazards.
Some are obvious, like explosives or fireworks factories. Others
may be less obvious, such as any place with a large refrigeration
facility that uses ammonia, even a warehouse or supermarket. A
wide variety of manufacturing facilities use significant amounts of
hazardous chemicals—everything from toy manufacturers to pulp
mills to shipyards.
   Chronic and routine releases may cause even more harm than
catastrophic ones, but they often get less attention from the media.
TRI includes these routine wastestreams to the air, water, and land.
While many of these chemical releases are controlled under federal
permits, others are virtually unregulated. A plant may be releasing
toxics but may not need to report it. The amounts involved may be
below the reporting threshold, or they may consist of many small
leaks; long-term, low-level leaks (fugitive emissions); or stormwater
runoff from a large land area (known as nonpoint source water
   While people often associate releases with industrial plants,
about the same number result from transportation-related
incidents. Hazardous substances may move by air, truck, railcar,
boat, or pipeline.  Of the roughly 600,000 chemical incidents
reported between 1987 and 1996, 42% occurred at fixed plant or
business sites, while 43% were related to transportation (the rest
were "other") according to the GSB (1999) (figures 4 and 5).
   Often the people most endangered by both chronic and cata-
strophic releases are the employees at the plants. They may be in
direct physical contact with hazardous substances, often in large
amounts. In some cases, their exposure may be daily over many
years  with cumulative effects.

Government Agency Roles in Chemical Releases and Exposure
Many different government agencies are involved in responding to
and preventing chemical releases and emergencies. While this book
focuses on two particular EPA programs (EPGRA and the RMP

            Total Transportation and Fixed-Facility Incidents
                                             50,000    60,000
                    Fixed Facility Incidents
] Transportation Incidents
 Figure 4: RMP and EPCRA address accident prevention only at facilities.
 Transportation-related incidents account for a significant percentage of all releases
 and represent a major threat to worker and public safety. The CSB reported that an
 average of approximately 60,000 hazardous materials incidents occurred annually
 between 1987 and 1996, and 42% of these incidents occurred at fixed facilities.
 Hazardous incidents were placed in five categories: fixed facility, transportation,
 outside, other, and no data. This chart only reflects data on two of these categories
 and represents 85% of the  total incidents during this period. Source: CSB 600K
 Report Executive Summary,  1999.
 program), a reporter may have  to talk to many other government
 agencies to get the whole story.
   Occupational hazardous and toxic exposures, for example, are
 regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
 (OSHA). Pipeline safety issues are regulated by the Department of
 Transportation's (DOT's) Office  of Pipeline Safety. Other modes of
 hazardous materials transportation fall under the DOT's Office  of
 Hazardous Materials Safety. Accidents may be investigated by the
 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), OSHA, or the GSB.
 The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may also be
 involved in responding to chemical disasters. Various state agencies
 may be involved with regulating chemical hazards and responding
 to emergencies.
   The central point for  coordinating government response to
chemical releases is the  National Response Center, which is operated
by the U.S. Coast Guard. The NRC was created by the National Oil

                 Fixed-Facility Chemical Incidents
                          Deaths and Injuries



                 Transportation Chemical Incidents
                          Deaths and Injuries
Figure 5: The CSB concluded that over the 10-year study period, approximately
2,550 people were killed or injured as a result of a chemical incident. There
were 2,565 deaths (with an average of 127 incidents per year with at least one
death) and 22,949 injuries. Source: CSS 600K Report, 1999.

and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, Title 40
GFR, Part 300. All oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and
disease-causing discharges into the environment anywhere in the
United States must be reported to the NRG. All reports of pollution
incidents are entered into the Incident Reporting Information
System (http://www.uscg.mil/foia.htm). None of these even touches
on what may be the most important agencies of all—the local
emergency responders.

                             Chapter  2

Tales from the Trenches:

Reporters' War Stories

In 1989, in the dawn of "computer-assisted reporting," Congress
had required EPA to put a huge database full of local detail about
the use and release of hazardous chemicals online. They called it
TRI, the Toxic Release Inventory, and many reporters (and envi-
ronmental activists) thought it would be the silver bullet, the
ultimate investigative tool. They were right and wrong. Ten years of
experience with TRI has shown some ways in which those  high
expectations were justified—and some ways in which they were
not. Journalists have done hundreds and hundreds of good stories
using TRI, and some have discovered the pitfalls along the  way.

Finding and Digging for Hidden Treasure with a Computer
In the fall of 1988, Scott Thurm, a reporter with the
Louisville Courier-Journal, asked Kentucky state
officials to see the toxic release reports for the
state. EPA's electronic database would not be avail-
able until 1989, and the 1,254 individual reports—
submitted by 254 facilities—were being stored, largely
unread, in cardboard boxes in a state office in Frank-
fort: Thurm went to the Kentucky Department of
Environmental Protection to look at the forms and then
entered selected information from the written copies
into a database on a portable computer. Handling the
data himself allowed him to pick out things no com-
puter could have showed him.
  Thurm noticed, for example, that an aluminum refiner
reported it was sending 14 million pounds per year of aluminum
dross to a disposal site at a former quarry. Thurm happened to know
that EPA had proposed this quarry the Superfund National Priority
List precisely because of the environmental hazards posed by
aluminum dross previously discarded there. "Watching the reaction
of a top state environmental official when I asked why this was being
permitted made all of the work seem worthwhile," Thurm recounted.

14	__
   The Courier-Journal's analysis revealed all sorts of interesting
things. Most importantly, it was clear that Kentucky's major industries
were emitting a wider variety of potentially hazardous air pollutants
than the state had previously been aware of, including several
suspected carcinogens that were completely unregulated. Other
findings included the following:
   » The TRI data revealed places where large amounts of toxic
     barium, chromium, and zinc might be entering the sewers of
     the Louisville-Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District-
     previously unknown to officials.
   * From the TRI data reported by the newspaper, the Louisville-
     Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District discovered that
     130,000 pounds of acrylonitrile (a probable carcinogen)  could be
     going into its system. The district did not test for this chemical.
   » In the Jefferson County Air Pollution Control District, TRI
     data revealed firms  emitting more of some hazardous chemi-
     cals than they had reported previously—33 times more in the
     case of certain  emissions of the toxic solvent toluene.
   * On only 3% of the forms did companies volunteer information
     about what they were doing to reduce emissions.

   Thurm said the project

     generated as much response as any other environmental
     story I've written. First, about a week after I started
     putting information into a computer, state officials—who
     had ignored the reports for three months—did likewise. I
     suspect they didn't want me to know anything they
     didn't know. Whatever the reason, it allowed them  to
     start probing discrepancies with permits and other
     records. Second, officials were genuinely surprised by
     the totals.

   According to Thurm, as a result of the Courier-Journal's analy-
sis, state and local officials started taking action to control some of
these problems. They began revising  Kentucky's regulations for air
releases of toxic chemicals  and commissioned a comprehensive
environmental study of the area around a chemical complex in
western Kentucky that the reports showed to have the most
concentrated releases.
   What was important was not merely the gross statewide totals
(225 million pounds  of toxic chemicals released in 1987) or the
listings of which counties had the greatest emissions. What  mat-
tered in the end was  that the story was being done at all. It  focused


 the attention of the public, state and local officials, and the compa-
 nies themselves on environmental problems that were not being
   That was just what the 1986 law that created TRI was intended
 to do. The Courier-Journal was way ahead of state regulatory
 agencies in analyzing the data and in pointing to the problems the
 data revealed.

 Realizing the Pitfalls: Data Are Only Human
 Another experience, recounted by Mitchel Benson, then a reporter
 for the San Jose Mercury News, showed how things can go wrong
 with TRI data.
   In August of 1988, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition held a news
 conference on the lawn outside a San Jose manufacturing plant.
 With the first batch of TRI data in hand, the group announced that
 25 major corporations in Santa Clara Country (a.k.a. Silicon Valley)
 had legally dumped more than 12 million pounds of toxic and
 cancer-causing pollutants into the air, land, and water. Furthermore,
 the coalition proclaimed, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Sunny-
 vale, California, semiconductor maker, was the county's top polluter,
 based on data AMD itself had filed for the TRI.
    "I should have called AMD right then and there," Benson said,
 "but, frankly, I didn't/Why? Because I had copies of AMD's actual
 reports. And I could see in black and white where the toxics
 coalition was getting its  numbers. The next morning, after the story-
 appeared, AMD's press officer called me," Benson recalled. "In fact
 he called me several things."
   Benson's story was wrong, and the toxics coalition was  wrong—
 because, it turned out, AMD had filled out the EPA forms wrong.
 They filled out the forms to say that tons of extremely potent acids
 were being dumped directly into San Francisco Bay, when in fact
 the acids were being neutralized into rather benign salts before
 being discharged. Benson says he learned one thing: "Check
 everything twice—maybe three times."
   The lesson is that hard data and computer analysis can often
 inspire more confidence than is really justified. Data and analysis
 are only as reliable as the people who produce them.

 Understanding the Annual Release of TRI Data
 Every year, generally around May or June, EPA puts out its annual
 TRI Public Data Release Report. It neatly and exhaustively summa-
 rizes the TRI data collected for the previous year's reporting cycle.
And every year reporters all over the country do stories on EPA's

16	.		
report. Most often, they write about the national trends and try to
localize the toxic release story to their area. The abundance of
both local and comparative data makes it easy to localize.
  The TRI report analyzes data by state, industry, chemical,
medium (air, water, land), type of release, and even, in some cases,
potential health effects. The annual TRI report may  also have
special focus sections on  carcinogens, pesticides, wastestreams, or
source reduction. Other sections focus on specific industries such
as petroleum, pulp and paper, and chemical products (which is
further broken down into categories like plastics, drugs, and other
products). It also includes all the necessary background, context,
and caveats about the limitations of the data.
  There is a time lag in reporting TRI data that may throw your
editors for a loop if they are not familiar with  it. For example, the
"1996" TRI annual report actually came out in 1998. Companies
don't report on their releases for a year (until June of the following
year). EPA then takes almost a year to organize the data and
prepare a report. Tell your editor no news organization has data
any fresher than this.
  The lead paragraphs on most TRI annual report stories tend to
be fairly predictable:

  From the July 3, 1998, Puget Sound Business Journal—
  "Washington companies that discharge toxic chemicals released
2.6% less in 1996 ...."

  From the June 19, 1998, Morning Star (Wilmington, NC)—
  "North Carolina industries cut legal toxic releases to air, land, and
water by 6% in 1996, lowering the state's national ranking from 7th to
10th, the Environmental Protection Agency reported."

  From the June 19, 1998, Indianapolis Star—
  "Indiana ranks fifth in the nation in the millions of pounds of
toxic releases to air, water, and land. And it's largely due to Nucor
Steel in Crawfordsville."

  From the June 20, 1998, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah)—
  "No matter how you add it up, Utah's top corporate polluter—-
and one of the nation's top polluters—is still Magnesium Corpora-
tion of America in Tooele County ...."

  From the June 19, 1998, Denver Post—
  "The quantity of toxic chemicals emitted into Colorado's air
dropped by 14% in 1996 over the previous year, but releases into
surface water shot up 209%, according to a report ...."


 TRI annual report stories tend to focus on "how our state did,"
 "best-and-worst-of," top 10s, rankings, and trends of improvement
 or aggravation in pollution.
   These are all meat-and-potatoes stories. They have plenty of
 hard facts and often include a local angle. The timing is fairly
 predictable (EPA issues a media advisory at least a day ahead), and
 it is often newsworthy enough for the front page. Reporters tend to
 take what they get from the report rather than doing a lot of
 original reporting and research.
   While this type of story is often newsworthy, journalistically, a
 lot more can be done with chemical right-to-know data.

 Reporting the National Overviews
 Some of the most worthwhile reporting that has been done with
 TRI data has tried to present a national survey or  overview (much
 like the TRI annual report itself, but with less governmentese and
 some journalistic value-added). While this type of  story may be
 more typical for national media, it can also help local reporters put
 their own community's situation in perspective.
 '  A classic of the genre was a story by John Holusha, published
 October 13, 1991, in the New York Times. It took  a full page (albeit
 page 10) and was loaded with graphics. At the top  of the page was a
 huge U.S. map under the head: "The  Nation's Polluters—Who Emits
 What, and Where." Individual counties were shaded darker accord-
 ing to the size of their volume of toxic releases. Smaller maps
 showed which states had the greatest air and water releases. Bar
 graphs illustrated "The 10 Biggest Polluters," as well as the top 10
 polluters for water and air. The story named individual companies
 and featured their corporate logos.
   The point of the story was that TRI data were having a "powerful
 impact on corporate behavior." That was  not simply because
 companies wanted to avoid the top-10 lists and the glare of publici-
 ty. The story reported that investor groups were using TRI data to
 screen companies for their portfolios  and that companies were
 changing practices they had defended as benign simply to avoid
 negative appearances.
   Another classic national take-out was the 3-day "cover story"
 series that began July 31, 1989, in USA Today. USA Today reporters
 Rae Tyson, Julie Morris, and Denise Kalette did their own analysis
 of EPA's data tapes. USA Today's anecdotal lead quoted a Port
Arthur Texas woman and made clear  that the data only confirmed
 something her nose already told her—that her county, thick with
 oil refineries, was one of the most polluted by toxic releases in the

  The story broke down the toxics "budget." Graphics showed
where major quantities originated and where they went. It also
itemized data listings for the top 500 counties in the United States.
The story included "top-10" of companies and plants. It  also
included sidebars itemizing the requirements of EPGRA and profil-
ing the most common hazardous chemicals.
  Some of the most revealing news came not from the data, but
from USA Today's original reporting. The reporters surveyed 20
towns with the largest toxic emitters and found that only 4 had
trained HAZMAT teams. In addition, many of the HAZMAT teams
could not get into plants, even in an emergency,  unless invited.
USA Today found many communities had little emergency pre-
paredness—mostly because local firefighters lacked information.

Reporting on Chemical Hazards in the Community
These examples only scratch the surface of what journalists can do
with chemical right-to-know data. The data can be a starting point
for all kinds of investigative and enterprise stories.

                             Chapter   3
 The Emergency  Planning and

 Community  Right-to-Know

 Act:  Key  Provisions

 EPGRA, according to EPA, "makes citizens full partners in prepar-
 ing for emergencies and managing chemical risks." EPGRA has two
 basic purposes: (a) to encourage planning for emergency response
 to chemical accidents and (b) to. provide local communities with
 information about possible chemical hazards. The law operates
 through provisions  in four major sets of sections.

   * Emergency Planning provisions (Sections 301-303) require
     state and local efforts to develop emergency response and
     preparedness capabilities based on chemical information
     provided by industry.
   * Emergency Release Notification provisions (Section 304)
     require immediate emergency notification to state and local
     authorities when one of the hundreds of chemicals designated
     as hazardous under EPCRA or Superfund is accidentally
     released to the environment.
   *  Hazardous Chemical Reporting provisions (Sections 311-312)
     require all businesses to submit information on chemicals
     broadly denned as "hazardous" to local and state emergency
     planners and local fire departments.
   *  Toxic Chemical Release Reporting and Inventory provisions
     (Section 313) require certain manufacturers to file an annual
     inventory of chemical releases with EPA and state agencies.

Emergency Planning (Sections 301-303)
Sections 301-303 are designed to help communities prepare for
and respond to emergencies involving hazardous substances. Every
community in the United States must be part of a comprehensive
state emergency response plan.
  The governor of each state was required to appoint a State
Emergency Response Commission (SERC) by April 1987. A SERG
may be housed within one or more existing state agencies, or it

20	.		

may consist solely of individual citizens. Some SERGs have no
state agency representative and are staffed entirely by private
citizens. These commissions have been named in all 50 states and
the U S territories and possessions. Contact information for the
SERGs is available on the RTKNET Web site (http://www.rtk.net/
lepc) at the EPA Web  site (http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/
sta.loc.htm), and the National Safety Council's Crossroads Web site
  Each SERC in turn has divided the state into local emergency
planning districts and appointed a Local Emergency Planning
Committee (LEPC) for each district. The number of "local" commit-
tees varies widely from state to state.  California has five committees
                    -      :         -          .
           is;a'cbmmissiori appointed bythe|overhorofBach,stateto-
  serve'as the rriain sourcei of EPCRA>authorify:and;'as ai source of;infor-:;;
  mation for anyone interested: in the •emergehdypianhirig^ process.:ft
  SERC may be a newly formed entity or one or more existing state
  agencies, such as the environmental, emergency, health, transporta-
  tion, commerce, and other relevant agencies.

  Who serves on a SERC?
    The commissions may be made up of members of trade associa-
  tions, public interest organizations, and others with experience in
  emergency planning, including representatives of environmental,
  emergency management, and health agencies. In some states, SERCs
  consist solely of citizens, with no state representation.

  What does a SERC do?
    * Divide states into local emergency planning districts
    * Appoint an LEPC for each district and help LEPCs and citizens
       to create effective plans
    » Supervise and coordinate the activities of LEPCs and, with
       LEPCs, establish procedures for receiving and processing ^  , ^
       public requests for information collected under other sections
       of the law                                          _ "  ~
    * Review local emergency plans annually to ensure such things
       as coordination across the state
    + Receive MSDSs, annual  inventories about hazardous
       chemicals, and notification of accidental  releases  of
     - hazardous chemicals from facilities

to ewer rfie entire state. New Jersey, on the other hand, has been
divided into as many as 588 local committees.
   SERCs are responsible for supervising the activities of LEPGs
and annually reviewing local emergency plans to ensure uniform
coordination throughout the state. Together the SERGs and LEPGs
must establish procedures for receiving and processing requests
from the public, the media, and others for information collected
under other sections of EPGRA.
    An LEPC is a local group appointed by the SERC to develop an
  emergency plan to gather information on chemicals in the commu-
  nity and prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. .It serves
  as  a focal point for the relationship between the EPCRA data and
  community action.                                     '

  Who serves on an LEPC?
 .  * Elected state and local officials
    * Law enforcement officials, civil defense workers, and
    * First aid, health, hospital, environmental, and transportation
  '..,  .workers                          .             :•..•':•
    * Representatives of community groups and the news media.
    » Owners and operators of industrial plants and other users of
      chemicals, such as hospitals, farms, and small businesses

 What does an LEPC do?
   LEPCs-             '
 '. • * Receive MSDSs, annual inventories about hazardous chemi-
      cals, and notification of accidental releases of hazardous
      chemicals from facilities
   * Based on chemical information from local facilities, develop a
      local emergency response plan tailored to the needs of the
      district, then  publicize it through public meetings or newspa-
      per announcements,  get public comments, and test the plan
      periodically with  emergency drills
   *  Update the plan  at least annually
   »  Make information available to the public
   * Take civil actions against facilities if they fail to provide the  '
     information required under Title III              :
   * Serve as a focus for community awareness and action
  .   concerning the presence of chemicals in the community

  LEPGs are the local groups carrying out the law. To truly
represent their communities, LEPGs are required to include the
following members:

  *  Elected state and local officials
  *  Law enforcement officials, civil defense workers, and
  •  First aid, health, hospital, environmental, and transportation
     workers                                            ,
  *  Representatives of community groups and the news media
  »  Owners and operators of industrial plants and other users of
     chemicals, such as hospitals, farms, and small businesses
  Each LEPG must analyze hazards and develop a plan to
prepare for and respond to chemical  emergencies in its district.
The  plan should be based on the chemical information reported
to the LEPG by local industries and other facilities dealing with
  All local emergency plans must—

   *  Use the information provided by industry to identify the
     facilities and transportation routes where hazardous
     substances are present
   »  Establish emergency response procedures, including evacua-
     tion plans, for dealing with accidental chemical releases
   *  Set up notification procedures for emergency response
   »  Establish methods for determining the occurrence and
     severity of a release and the areas and populations likely to be
   *  Establish ways to notify the public of a release
   »  Identify the emergency equipment available in the
     community, including equipment at facilities with   ;
     hazardous chemicals
   * Establish a program and schedules for training local
     emergency response and medical workers to respond to
     chemical emergencies
   * Establish methods and schedules for conducting exercises
     or simulations to test elements  of the emergency response
   » Identify a community coordinator and facility coordinators to
     carry out the plan

   The focus of emergency planning is EPA's list of "extremely
 hazardous  substances." This list is made up of more than 400

 suJbstatwSeg EPA has identified as having immediate toxic health
 effects and hazardous properties. However, the emergency response
 plans must address all hazardous materials in the community that
 present risks to public health and safety, including, for example,
 widely used fertilizers, preservatives, photographic chemicals, and
   The list of extremely hazardous substances includes a threshold
 planning quantity for each substance. If at any time this amount or
 more of the chemical is present at any facility, the owner or
 operator must notify the SERG and the LBPG. Violators of these
 reporting provisions are subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000  a
 day for each day a violation continues.
   The facility's owners or operators must also name an employee
 as facility coordinator. He or she participates in the district's
 planning process. Obviously, this person is potentially a good
 resource for journalists.
   Federal  facilities were originally exempt from EPGRA's require-
 ments. The Bush Administration sought voluntary compliance by
 federal agencies, but critics said this left too many gaps in cover-
 age. President Clinton made federal compliance mandatory on
 August 3, 1993, when he signed Executive Order 12856, Federal
 Facility Compliance 'with Right-to-Know and Pollution
 Prevention Laws.
   LEPCs must make most of their information available to the
 public. They must let their communities know-about their emer-
 gency response plans by publishing notices and scheduling public
 meetings. Their plans must be reviewed annually and updated as
 needed. LEPGs may be excellent sources of local information for
Emergency Release
Notification (Section 304)
Chemicals covered by this
section of the law include not
only the 400-plus extremely
hazardous substances, but also
other hazardous substances
subject to the emergency
notification requirements of the
Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and
Liability Act, (GERGLA, also
known as Superfund). Some

chemicals are on both lists. If a covered substance is released in an
accident at a facility or on a transportation route in an amount that
exceeds the reportable quantity for the substance, the NRG and the
appropriate LEPGs and SERGs must be notified immediately.
Notification activates emergency plans.
   Initial notification of a substance release can be made by tele-
phone radio, or in person. If the release results from a transportation
accident, the transporter can dial 911 or the local telephone operator
to report it. All emergency notifications must include—

   * The  chemical name
   » The  location of the release
   * Whether the chemical is on the extremely hazardous
     substance list
   * How much of the substance was released
   * The  time and duration of the incident
   * Whether the chemical was released into  the air, water, soil, or
     some combination of the three
   » Known or anticipated health risks and medical attention
   * Proper precautions, such as evacuation
   * A contact person

   As soon as practical after the release, the facility coordinator
must submit a written report to both the LEPG and the SERG. That
report must update the original notification and provide additional
information about the response actions taken; known or  anticipat-
ed health risks; and, if appropriate, advice regarding any  medical
care needed by exposure victims. By law, this information must be
available to the public.

Hazardous Chemical Reporting (Sections 311-312)
Under Sections 311 and 312, facilities must report the amounts,
locations, and potential effects of hazardous chemicals present
above certain specified threshold quantities on their property. This
means essentially any hazardous chemicals they  use, handle, or
store in significant amounts onsite—whether or not these chemi-
cals are released into the environment.
   All companies, whether manufacturing or nonmanufacturing, are
potentially subject to  this requirement. They  must report this
information to the relevant LEPGs, SERGs, and local fire depart-
ments. Facilities  must report on the hazardous chemicals in two
different ways: Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and annual


                    : Material Safety Data Sheets
 Under federal laws administered by OSHA, companies are required
 to keep MSDSs on file for all hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
 Companies must also make this information available to employees
 so workers will know about the chemical hazards they are exposed
 to and be able to take necessary precautions in handling the
 substances. MSDSs contain information on a chemical's physical
 properties and health effects and on whether it presents hazards in
 any of the following categories: immediate (acute) health hazard,
 delayed (chronic) health hazard, fire hazard, sudden release of
 pressure hazard, or reactive hazard.
    The relevant chemicals are those defined as hazardous chemi-
 cals under OSHA's requirements—essentially, any chemical that
 poses physical or health hazards. As many as 500,000 products can
 be defined in this way. If hazardous chemicals are present, they
 must be reported under EPGRA's hazardous  chemical reporting
   Facilities must provide new MSDSs when  new hazardous chemi-
 cals become present at a facility in quantities above the  established
 threshold levels. A revised MSDS must be provided if significant
 new information is discovered about a chemical. Once submitted to
 the LEPG, SERG, and local fire department,  the MSDS information
 is available to the public upon request.

 Reporting Method Two: Annual Inventories
 Companies must also report on hazardous chemicals by submitting
 annual inventories to their LEPCs, SERCs, and local fire depart-
 ments under a two-tier system. Under Tier I, a facility must
 (a) estimate (in ranges) the maximum amount of chemicals present
 at a facility at any time during the preceding calendar year,
 (b) provide a range of estimates of the average daily amount of the
 chemicals present in each chemical category, and (c) provide the
 general location of hazardous chemicals within the facility.
   Tier-II information includes more specific information about
 each substance, including a brief description of how each chemical
 is stored and the specific storage locations of hazardous chemicals.
 (For example: A facility stores 500 pounds of benzene in the
 northwest corner storage room of the warehouse.) Tier-II reports
 also must indicate if the reporting facility has withhekl location
 information from disclosure  to the public for security reasons, such
 as protecting against vandalism or arson.
   The information reported under Sections 311 and 312 generally
must be made available to the public. The public and reporters can
gain access the MSDSs and annual inventory reports for particular

plants or areas by contacting the LEPG or SERG. The LEPG or
SERG must respond within 45 days to written requests for Tier-II
information. The state commissions may require additional infor-
mation under state law. Companies may also provide it directly
upon request.
   Congress gave companies the choice of filing Tier I or Tier II,
unless the SERG, LEPG, or fire department requests Tier-II infor-
mation. EPA, in its own words, "believes that Tier-II reports provide
emergency planners and communities with more useful informa-
tion, and is encouraging facilities to submit Tier-II forms."

Toxic Chemical Release Reporting and Inventory (Section 313)
The fourth key element of EPGRA is a requirement that certain
manufacturing plants report annually on the amounts of extremely
hazardous substances they release into the air, water, or soil. This
provision applies to more than 31,000 facilities with 10 or more
employees. Companies with nine or fewer employees are exempt
from Section 313. Toxic chemical release reports are required from
facilities that use more than 10,000 pounds of a listed chemical in a
calendar year or that manufacture or process more than 25,000
pounds per year.
   Many companies have long been required to report data on
chemical emissions to EPA and the states under other environmen-
tal laws such as the Glean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the
Resources Conservation and Recovery Act. What makes the annual
toxic chemical release reporting requirement different, and particu-
larly useful, is that estimated releases of a specific chemical to air,
water, and land appear on one form and that the public and press
have direct access to the data.
   Facilities must annually file a Toxic Chemical  Release Inventory
Form (Form R) that estimates the total amount of each chemical
they (a) release into the environment (either by accident or as a
result of routine plant operations) or (b) transport as waste to
another location. A complete Form R must be submitted for each
chemical. Releases covered include air emissions from stacks,
liquid waste discharged into water, wastes disposed of in landfills,
and wastes transported offsite to a public or private waste treat-
ment or disposal facility.
   Routine exposure to many of the  chemicals covered by this
section of the law poses long-term (chronic) health and environmen-
tal hazards,  such as cancer, nervous system disorders, and reproduc-
tive disorders. Among the most commonly used substances included
on the list of the approximately 400 chemicals are ammonia,
chlorine, copper, lead, methanol, nickel, saccharin, silver, and zinc.

 	•	'	•	27

   The following information must be estimated and reported by
 manufacturers for these reports:

   »  The toxic chemicals released into the environment during the
      preceding year
   *  How much of each chemical went into the air, water, and land
   *  How much of each chemical was transported away from the
      site of the facility for disposal
   *  How the chemical wastes were treated onsite
   *  How efficient that treatment was

   These reports must be submitted to EPA and the SERG by July 1
 of each year and  cover releases in the previous calendar year.
   EPGRA set a precedent for increased public access to federal
 information by requiring EPA to compile these reports into the
 national computerized TRI database and make it available to the
 public. EPA originally put the TRI database online in 1989 through
 the National Library of Medicine's TOXNET. It is now available
 through  EPA's Envirofacts Warehouse, on CD-ROM, and through
 the RTKNET and Chemical Scorecard Web sites.

 Trade Secrets:  The One Exception (Section 322)
 Under Section 322, companies reporting under EPCRA, under very
 limited conditions, can request that the specific identity of chemi-
 cals in their reports not be disclosed to the public. This section
 takes a very cautious approach to allowing claims of trade secrecy,
 requiring that companies state and justify their claims up-front,
 rather than allowing the claims and then making them subject to
 challenge after-the-fact.
  In addition, Congress specified in the law that a company
 claiming a trade secret must be able to prove that the withheld
 information is not subject to disclosure under any other federal or
 state law and that it is a legitimate trade secret—that disclosure
 could substantially damage the company's competitive position.
 The chemical's  identity must be included in the company's reports.
 Furthermore, the  organization claiming trade secret protection
must demonstrate that it has taken reasonable measures to protect
 the confidentiality of the information and that it intends to continue
taking such measures. Once such a trade secret claim is withheld,
information beyond the specific chemical identity will still be
available to the public. Information (e.g., about the general catego-
ry of the chemical) that will disclose the environmental and health
effects of the chemical must be included in the public version of
the reports, even after a  trade secret claim has been approved.

28	'	:	

  Citizens may challenge a trade secret claim by filing a petition
with EPA requesting disclosure of the chemical.

Enforcement Provisions (Section 325)
Companies that fail to comply with EPCRA's key provisions (emer-
gency planning, emergency notification, and reporting require-
ments) face civil, administrative, and criminal penalties under the
Section 325 enforcement provisions of EPCRA.
  Violations of the law's emergency planning and emergency  .
response requirements under Sections 302(c) and 303(d) are
subject to potential civil penalties of as much as $25,000 daily.
Once the accused is given notice and an opportunity for a hearing
on the alleged violation, a civil penalty of up to $25,000 can be
assessed for a violation of the Section 304 emergency notification
requirements. Second and subsequent violations can draw fines of
up to $75,000 for each day the violation continues.
  Those found guilty of knowingly and willfully failing to provide
Section 304 emergency notification reports on extremely hazard-
ous substances under EPCRA or hazardous  substances under
CERCLA released from their facility face penalties, once convicted,
face fines of up to $25,000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
These penalties are doubled for second or subsequent criminal
  Section 325 authorizes civil penalties of up to $25,000 per
violation for failure to meet Section 312 or 313 provisions for
hazardous chemical inventory release forms. A finding by the EPA
administrator that a trade secret claim is insufficient and frivolous
can bring an administrative or judicial penalty of $25,000 for each
such claim. Also, a person who  knowingly and willfully divulges or
discloses information entitled to trade secret protection under the
law can be fined up to $20,000 or imprisoned for as much as one
  As is generally true under the environmental statutes, individual
citizens have the authority to bring civil suits. They can sue a
facility for (a) alleged failure to  submit emergency notices,    '
(b) failure to submit an MSDS or list of chemicals under Section
311, (c) failure to complete and submit a Section 312 inventory
form, or (d) failure to submit a  Section 313 toxic chemical release

                             Chapter  4
 The 1990 Clean  Air  Act and

 the Risk  Management  Program

 The next generation of chemical right-to-know was born when
 Congress passed a comprehensive and long-awaited set of amend-
 ments to the Clean Air Act and the president signed them into law
 on November 15, 1990.
  Provisions under the heading of hazardous air pollutants pushed
 chemical safety in the United States a major evolutionary step
 forward—moving the emphasis beyond merely reporting hazardous
 chemical releases to preventing them in the first place. The new
 programs dovetailed with and added to EPCRA. In fact, these
 propositions had originally been proposed as part of EPCRA but
 were not adopted by Congress in 1986.
  The CAA created a new Risk Management Program that expanded
 what facilities (formally known as stationary sources) were required -
 to disclose. It also required facilities to analyze hazards and show
 what they were doing to reduce hazards. The law created the inde-
 pendent CSB as an aggressive watchdog that not only would do
 post-mortems on chemical accidents, but would also push EPA and
 OSHA to reduce hazards. Finally, the law required OSHA to issue
 rules to ensure the safety of industrial chemical processes.
  The risk management program language in the CAA was really
only a skeleton of the program, and Congress quite deliberately left
it to EPA to fill in most of the details by regulation. EPA took 6
                             years, until June 1996, to issue
                             the main rule implementing
                             the program. Another 3 years
                             passed before the RMP Rule
                             became effective. And the story
                             is still unfolding. Congress
                             enacted the Chemical Safety
                             Information, Site Security, and
                             Fuels Regulatory Relief Act in
                             August 1999 with the primary
                             focus of limiting public access
                             to key right-to-know data
                             collected under the RMP Rule.

        Risk Management Program of the Clean Air Act Citations
    The CM Amendments of 1990 were enacted as P.L. 101-549,
  and chemical accident prevention  requirements were codified as 42
  U.S.C. 4712(r)i The full text of the risk management program is avail-
  able on EPA's Web site (http://www.epa.gov/swercepp/rules/,
  caaall2r.txt).             .:  ,.  -• A-••,'•..  o^:: >K •..-/:  ti--:?,x
    The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and Fuels Regula-
  tory Relief Act was codified as P.L. 106-40. The la€can be downloaded:;
  from EPA's  Web site  (http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/rules/s880.pdf).
The Risk Management Program of the 1990

Clean Air Act: A Summary

The General Duty Clause
The owner or operator of a plant producing, using, handling, or
storing hazardous substances has a general duty to design and
maintain a safe facility, to prevent accidental releases, and to
minimize the consequences of any releases that occur. The duty
applies to plants handling any extremely hazardous substance,
regardless of whether it is specifically listed by EPA under this law.
The general duty clause was intentionally written quite broadly. It
requires facilities to know the hazards of the chemicals they use; to
maintain a safe workplace by incorporating the industry's best
practices, codes, and standards; and to develop an emergency plan.
For further information, see EPA's General Duty fact sheet (http://

The List of Covered Substances
Under the law, the EPA administrator was required to issue a rule
listing at least 100 extremely hazardous substances subject to the
requirements of the Risk Management Program. The law specified
16 chemicals required to be on the initial list and specified that the
administrator use the list of extremely hazardous substances under
EPGRA as a starting point for the RMP Rule list. The administrator
can revise the list.  Citizens and industry can also petition EPA to
revise the list.
  In listing substances for the Risk Management Program, the EPA
administrator must consider the severity of harm to health that their
release could cause, the likelihood of an accidental release, the
severity of any acute adverse health effects, and the potential
magnitude of human exposure.


   On January 31,1994, EPA promulgated its first version of the
 regulation and the list of regulated substances and thresholds for
 "accidental release prevention," often referred to as the List Rule.
 That regulation identified the substances to be regulated though the
 Risk Management Program. The first version included three sub-
 stance categories: toxics, flammables, and explosives.
   On June 20, 1996, EPA published modifications to the List Rule,
 exempting from compliance several types of processes and "station-
 ary sources." All were related to petroleum processing. The List
 Rule was further modified on August 25, 1997, when EPA published
 its decision to exempt hydrochloric acid solutions with less than
 37% concentrations of hydrogen chloride.
                        What Is a Process?
     A process is defined as manufacturing, sorting, distributing, han-
  dling, or using a regulated substance. Chemicals in transit, including
  pipelines, are excluded.
   Responding to concerns raised by regulated industries, the
 explosives category of substances was exempted when EPA pub-
 lished a revised Final Rule on January 6, 1998. That action also
 exempted the thresholds of flammable substances in gasoline used
 as fuel and in naturally occurring hydrocarbon mixtures before
 initial processing.
   On May 21, 1999, one month before the RMP Rule went into  .
 effect, EPA Administrator Carol Browner signed a stay of the
 effective date for facilities with no more than 67,000 pounds of
 certain hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., propane, butane, ethane) not
 used as feedstock for a process. This action is particularly
 significant since  more than 40% of the more than 66,000 facili-
 ties expected to be regulated under the RMP Rule were how
   The current list of substances and their thresholds is available
 on EPA's Web site (http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/caalist.html).

 Regulations for Accident Prevention
 The EPA administrator is authorized to issue regulations for pre-
venting, detecting, and correcting accidental release of listed
substances. The regulations may require monitoring; recordkeep-
ing; reporting; training; vapor recovery; secondary containment;
and other design,  equipment, work practice,  and operational .
requirements. The administrator may set different requirements for

32	;—

different classes of facilities considering factors such as size,
location, substances handled, and emergency response capabilities.
  The administrator must issue regulations to provide for emer-
gency response to accidental releases by plant operators and
owners. EPA must consult with the Departments of Labor and
Transportation to minimize potential conflict among regulations.
The regulations must cover the use, operation, repair, replacement,
and maintenance of equipment used to monitor, detect, and
control releases. Regulations must include procedures for training
personnel and inspecting plants, and they must cover storage as
well as operations. Plants have 3 years after the regulations are
issued to comply or 3 years after they begin using a listed sub-
stance, whichever is  later.

Risk Management Plans
Owners or operators of plants where listed substances are present
in quantities above the threshold are required to prepare and carry
out PxMPs  (figure 6). The plans must include the following for each

  * A hazard assessment of the potential effects of a release that
     includes estimates of potential release quantities, downwind
     effects, and exposure of populations; a 5-year history of
     releases (size, concentration, and duration); and an evalua-
     tion  of worst-case scenarios
  * A program for preventing accidental release of listed substanc-
     es, including safety precautions, maintenance, monitoring,
     and employee training
  » A program of specific actions to be taken in response to an
     accidental release to protect human health and the  environ-
     ment, including procedures for (a) informing the public and
     local HAZMAT responders, (b) emergency health care, and
     (c) employee training

The law states that the plans "shall be available to the public,"
except for information qualifying as trade secrets.
  EPA can regularly audit, review, and require revisions to ensure
RMPs comply with the law. EPA can require the plans to be
updated immediately upon any change in the facility's processes.
Otherwise, the update  cycle is every 5 years. States, territories,
tribes, and local governments may adopt chemical risk manage-
ment requirements in addition to the EPA program. However,
these requirements cannot be less stringent than those specified
under the CAA.

          Types of Facilities Regulated  by the
            Risk  Management Program  Rule

             Petroleum Refineries
              and Petroleum
              Coal Products

                    ,   m   i    \
                     Federal   I   wholesalers
                     S°4%CeS Gas    (chemical)
                         Processors    **"
 Figure 6: Facilities that have more than specified thresholds of any of the 77
 acutely toxic substances or 63 flammable substances must submit an RMP. All
 of the listed substances can form gas or vapor clouds that may travel offsite and
 have dangerous consequences if more than the threshold quantity is released.
 Not all  of the covered substances are regulated by EPCRA. Initially, the total
 estimated number of facilities affected by the Risk Management Program Rule
 exceeded 66,000. The regulated community was reduced by more than 50% in
 August 1999 upon the  enactment of the Chemical Safety Information, Site
 Security, and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act, which removed flammable fuels (e.g.,
 propane) from the RMP program when used as a fuel or held for sale as fuel at a
 retail facility.
State and Local Risk Management

Program  Implementation
States can choose to take delegation of the GAA Risk Management
Program. If a state is granted delegation, it then becomes the
implementing agency for that jurisdiction. If it does not take
delegation, the EPA regional office is the implementing agency.
Reporters should contact their SERC or the EPA to determine who
is managing the RMP program in their  area.
  As of January 2000, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Ohio, the
Virgin Islands, and Forsyth County, North Carolina, had obtained
delegation. Fourteen other jurisdictions, including California,
Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Allegheny County, Pennsyl-
vania, were seeking delegation.

34	    ._	.	

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
The law establishes the GSB. The board is independent, that is, not
under the jurisdiction of another federal agency. The GSB consists
of five members appointed by the president with the approval of
the U.S. Senate.                                          ;
   The GSB is fundamentally a research and investigative organiza-
tion. It has no regulatory authority, with the sole exception of being
able to establish requirements for reporting accidental releases.
Otherwise, the job of the board is to—

   » Investigate, determine, and report to the public the circum-
     stances and causes of any accidental release resulting in
     death, serious injury, or substantial property damage
   * Issue periodic reports with recommendations on how to
     reduce the likelihood and consequences of accidental releases
     in chemical production, processing, handling, and storage
   •» Investigate the potential for hazardous releases, even when
     they have not yet occurred

   The board must submit an annual report to the president and
the Congress detailing all accidental chemical releases reported
and investigated during the previous year  along with any recom-
mendations for legislative or administrative action. To facilitate
the board's ability to investigate incidents, its findings and
recommendations can not be used as evidence in civil damage
lawsuits arising out of any matters it investigates.

The OSHA Process Safety Management Standard
In Section 304(a), the GAA mandated another part of a holistic
program for preventing hazardous chemical releases. Closely
interwoven with the RMP Rule is a regulation issued by OSHA titled
Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (29
CPR 1910.119), known as the Process Safety Management (PSM)
Standard. OSHA issued the final rule on February 24, 1992. It
became effective on May 26,1992, although portions were stayed
until August 26, 1992.
   PSM's list of regulated substances (termed highly hazardous
chemicals) differs somewhat from those regulated under the RMP
Rule. The PSM Rule and the list of highly hazardous chemicals and
their thresholds (See appendix A of the standard) can be found on
OSHA's Web site (http://www.osha.gov).                     '.

 Three Levels of Stringency
 The RMP Rule divides regulated facilities into three program
 focuses according to the level of potential danger they may present
 to surrounding communities. The requirements the rule imposes
 on facilities become progressively stricter as the danger increases.
 In the regulatory jargon, these categories are called Program 1,
 Program 2, and Program 3—with Program 1 being the least danger-
 ous and Program 3 being the most dangerous.

 Program 1
 Program 1 requirements apply to plants (or processes) that meet
 three conditions:

   * The plant has had no accidental releases in the past 5 years
     that led to offsite death, injury, or environmental cleanup.
   * The worst-case toxic plume or fire hazard would not reach a
     populated area.
   * The plant has coordinated emergency response procedures
     with local agencies.

 Generally, Program 1 facilities are relatively simple operations or
 are quite distant from the property line.
   Facilities with Program 1 processes are required to .do little more
 than document that they qualify for Program 1. They must analyze
 a worst-case release scenario and document that the danger of
 injury from toxics and fire will not reach the nearest populated
 area. They must compile a 5-year accident history showing no
 serious offsite effects. They must ensure that they have coordinat-
 ed emergency response plans with local agencies. Then they must
 certify that they meet the qualifications for Program 1 and that no
 additional measures are  needed to prevent offsite impacts.

Program 2 requirements apply to processes that fall into neither
Program 1 nor 3. Generally, they are processes of low complexity
and do not involve chemical reactions. Program 2 RMP responsibili-
ties include the following:

  »  Describe how their RMP management systems will be imple-
  *  Conduct hazard assessments, which includes analyses of
    worst-case and alternative release scenarios

   *  Establish emergency response programs that include plans to
     inform the public and emergency response organizations
     about the chemicals onsite and their health effects and
     strategies to coordinate those plans with the community

   Unlike Program 1 processes, those in  Program 2 must report
steps taken to prevent incidents that can release dangerous chemi-
cals. The requirements of the prevention program are less stringent
than those for the potentially more dangerous Program 3 processes.
Some safety professionals view the Program 2 prevention require-
ments as a "lite" PSM program.

Program 3 requirements apply to processes that do not faU into
Program 1 and meet either of two conditions:

   *  They fall into at least one of nine specified SIC Codes
     (amended on January 6, 1999, as 10 NAIGS Codes). These
   - NAICS codes include pulp mills (32211), petroleum refineries
     (32411), petrochemical manufacturing (32511), alkalis and
     chlorine manufacturing (325181), basic inorganic chemical
     manufacturing (325188), cyclic crude and intermediate
     manufacturing (325192), basic organic chemical manufactur-
     ing (325199), plastics material and resin manufacturing
     (325211), nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturing (325312), and
     pesticide and agricultural chemical manufacturing (32532).
   »  They are subject to OSHA's PSM Standard.

   Generally, Program 3 processes pose higher risks and involve
complex chemical processing operations. As with Program 2 process-
es, facilities in Program 3 must (a) describe their systems for manag-
ing implementation of their risk management program,  (b) conduct
hazard assessments, and (c) establish emergency response programs.
The  prevention program requirements for Program 3 are nearly
identical to those of OSHA's PSM Standard. These facilities must
conduct a more formal, complex Process Hazard Analysis (PHA).

The Contents of a Risk Management Plan

The Offsite Consequence Analysis
An RMP must contain a hazard assessment, one part of which is an
OCA. The OCA estimates what offsite harm to human health or the
environment might be caused offsite if a release occurred. Release
in this context is a fairly broad term. It  could mean a leak of a toxic

     The RMP Rule uses the; term endpoint in prescribing how offsite
   consequences should be performed. Although, .it is a rather obscure
   bit of technical jargon, reporters trying .to understand an RMP will
   need to understand the term. Imagine a railroad^.tank car leaking
   green chlorine gas and a long plume (clo.ud) ,of that lethaliy toxitfgas
   drifting steadily for miles downwind. A lay person,might think of the
   "endpoint" of that toxic plume as the point at which it is no longer
   toxic. It's a useful image, although hazard analysts use the term m a
   sense that is a little more complex.
     To say when that chlorine plume  ceases to be toxic, requires us to
   make a somewhat afbitrary.definition of what we.mean by toxic. Let's
   say, just for illustration, that the plume is toxic as long as ..it can cause.
   some lasting harm to human  health. Joxicologists haye determined
   (with .experience, experiments, and  lab rats) what .concentrations of.
   chlorine (and what human exposures to them).cause .lasting harm to
   human health. That concentration is a number—a'number.below which
   some standard human exposure will riot result in lasting harm to
   health. With regard to the .OCA,.EPA hazard analysts have come to call
  the numerical value itself an endpoint. .                         •
     People  can and do argue about.what the right number is. There
  are all sorts of standards.for choosing it, but that is. besi;de the. point
   here. For the pu.rposes.of the RMP Rule, EPA has solved the .problem
  by decree, (although not arbitrary decree), getting the endppints for
  certain, hazards by regulation.  The.RMP Rule, specifies.endpoints fpr
  flammables, explosion, radiant heat, and a list of specific chemicals
  (given as concentrations).                           .'....-
   .  So when the RMP Rule speaks of "the distance .to. a toxic or flam-
  mable endpoint for a worst-case release assessment" being "less than
  the distance to any publip receptor,".you will be ready to translate for
  your audience.                          . .
gas or liquid, whether sudden or gradual, that drifted or flowed
offsite. It could also mean a fire or explosion and the shock wave
from the explosion or the heat offsite from the fire onsite.
   Facility owners and operators must fully document their offsite
consequence analyses and must update them at least every 5 years
or within 6 months of a change that would double the distance to

The regulations define a public receptor as offsite residences;
institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals); industrial, commercial, and

office buildings; parks; or recreational areas inhabited or occupied
by the public at any time without restriction by the stationary
source where members of the public could be exposed to toxics.
RMPs must estimate at-risk populations, including residential
populations; schools; hospitals; and major commercial, office, and
industrial buildings.
  RMPs must also list "environmental receptors" within these
circles—natural areas such as national or state parks, forests, or
monuments; officially designated wildlife sanctuaries, preserves,
refuges, or areas; and federal wilderness areas.

The Worst-Case Scenario
A worst-case scenario is based on the  assumption that if anything
can go wrong, it will. Worst-case chemical accidents are the most
catastrophic in terms of human death and injury, and they are
exactly the kind of accidents planners want to prevent. But they
can not be prevented unless they  can  be imagined. This exercise—
so essential for public health and  safety—has the paradoxical effect
of making people feel very unsafe. That may be healthy if it moti-
vates people to take action to prevent accidents.
  This presents something of a challenge to reporters.  Catastrophe
stories are easy to get on the front page—even imaginary catastrophes.
They are very tempting when all that  matters is higher ratings and
readership. But journalists who think  their job is to offer some
objective view of reality may want to give readers, listeners, and
viewers a sense of the low probability  of some of the worst imagin-
able catastrophes.
  Worst-case release scenarios, as called for in the RMP Rule, ask
what would happen if everything went wrong all at the same  time.
They make all the most unfavorable possible assumptions about
the conditions under which an accident could occur.
  For example, the rule requires  analysts to assume that the tank
containing a hazardous substance is completely full, that it is
released in a very short time (e.g., 10  minutes), and that it is a very
hot day (which makes chemicals evaporate or volatilize faster).

Alternative Scenarios
Program 2 and 3 facilities must also analyze alternative scenarios
as part of their RMPs. They must  analyze at least one alternative
scenario for each listed toxic substance  and another  alternative
scenario for flammable substances.  They must choose scenarios
that are more likely to occur than the worst case and that will still
(if possible)  pose hazards offsite.


   Alternative release scenarios may include far more common, and
 realistic, failures: split hoses, broken pipe welds or valve seals, spills
 from overfilled vessels, venting through pressure relief valves, broken
 shipping containers, and the like. And alternative scenarios may
 include the affect of process safety features: automatic shut-off valves
 to stop release and deluge systems to put out fires, for example.

 The Rve-Year Accident History
 The RMP must also include a history of all accidental releases in the
 previous 5 years that resulted in deaths, injuries, or significant
 property damage onsite or known offsite deaths, injuries, evacuations,
 sheltering in place, property damage, or environmental damage.
   Events in the accident history of the process may serve as a
 basis for alternative release scenarios. Unless effective corrective
 action is taken, history may repeat  itself. Investigate whether these
 contributing conditions, if uncorrected, led to a more serious
 outcome than the RMP's reported alternative scenarios.

 Prevention Programs
 While all facilities have a general duty to operate safely, the RMP
 Rule requires Program 2 and 3 facilities to carry out very specific
 accidental  release prevention programs. The requirements for
 Programs 2 and 3 are similar in many ways, but they are generally
 more stringent for Program 3. The prevention program must be
 documented in the RMP, and where  it consists of actions, the RMP
 will include information about actions to be taken. EPA audits this
 information, but the overarching strategy of the chemical safety
 program is one that relies on information (rather than command-
 and-control regulation) to achieve action. So it is very much
incumbent upon reporters and people in communities to examine
the prevention program information in the RMPs and ask the right
questions about it.
   Program 2 and 3 prevention programs are required to include
the following:

   *  Safety Information: Information should include MSDSs;
     equipment inventory; safety limits for temperatures, pres-
     sures, flows, and compositions; equipment specifications; and
     design codes and standards.
   *  Hazard Review or Analysis: This review must include identifi-
     cation of the hazards associated with each industrial process,
     possible equipment malfunctions, or human error that could
     cause a release, as well as the safeguards needed to manage
     such malfunctions or errors.

   *  Operating Procedures: Facility owners and operators must
     prepare written operating procedures that provide clear
     instructions for operating each covered process safely.
   *  Training: Employers at covered facilities must ensure that
     each employee operating a process is trained and tests  compe-
     tent in the operating procedures.
   *  Maintenance and Mechanical Integrity: Facility owners or
     operators must maintain the ongoing integrity of process
     equipment. This requirement includes setting and carrying
     out regular maintenance procedures, making sure their own
     employees and those of contractors are trained in main-
     taining equipment safely, and maintaining equipment for
   *  Management of Change and Prestartup Review: Program 3
     facilities must establish and follow written procedures for
     changes to chemicals, technology, equipment, procedures,
     and the plant itself that affect a covered process.
   *  Compliance Audits: Facility owners or operators must  certify
     that they have evaluated their own compliance with the
     accident prevention program and the RMP Rule (PSM Stan-
     dard) at least every 3 years.
   *  Incident Investigation: Owners or operators must investigate
     each incident that leads to a catastrophic release within 48
     hours of the incident.
   «  Emergency Response Plans: Program 2 and 3 facilities  must
     have emergency response plans that include procedures for
     informing the public and local emergency response agencies
     about accidental releases and documentation of first-aid and
     medical treatment for accidental exposures.

 The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security,

 and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act
 On August 5,1999, President Clinton signed the Chemical Safety
 Information, Site Security, and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act impos-
 ing at least a 1-year moratorium on disclosure of OCA information
 (sections 2 through 5 of the RMP) concerning potential harm to
 communities from plants handling hazardous chemicals. The act
 exempts federal and state Freedom of Information Act disclosures
 for this period and also exempts rankings of sites based on that
 data. The act was the culmination of a campaign by the chemical
 industry and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to limit public
 access to the OCA data because of concerns about terrorism
 targeting the most vulnerable communities.


   The act also removed flammable fuels (e.g., propane) from the
RMP program when the substances are used as fuel or held for sale
as fuel at a retail facility. A retail facility is a facility at which more
than one-half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end
users or at which more than one-half of the fuel sold, by volume, is
sold through a cylinder exchange program. The basis for the
exemption was that laws and regulations covering flammable fuel
and propane dealers are adequate. EPA estimates that the act
reduced the number of regulated facilities from more than 60,000
to approximately 30,000.
   By August 5, 2000, the federal government must assess the
security risks of posting OCA data on the Internet against the
benefits of public access to that data. In the meantime, EPA will
make all RMP data, including the OCA, available to federal, state,
and local officials, including LEPGs, for emergency planning and
response purposes. Qualified researchers can also have access to
the data. However, EPA has not yet defined who  is a qualified
researcher. All of these persons are prohibited from publicly
releasing OCA data unless the data have already been publicly
released by the facility.
  Within 180 days of enactment, larger facilities must hold public
meetings describing local hazards and provide a  summary of their
OCA information. The remainder of the RMP data are available on
RMP*Info™ and other sources. Much of this information is still
important and valuable for investigating local chemical hazards.
For example, both RMP*Info™ and RTKNET are publishing the
RMP executive summaries. Many of the summaries include the
actual worst-case  and  alternative scenario data that are prohibited
from disclosure if it is in sections 2 through 5 of the RMP. Informa-
tion on  chemical facilities, their location, their chemical invento-
ries, and nearby population characteristics is also available. These
are the key data elements needed for determining worst-case


                             Chapter   5
 Reporting  on  Chemical  Emergency
 Prevention and Preparedness
 Wherever you are, there are probably dozens of good stories
 waiting to be written on chemical emergencies—before they
   The RMPs for individual facilities are an obvious story opportunity.
 But once you cover the plans, don't presume the story is finished.
 The RMPs will really be just the beginning of a story. What they leave
 out may be as important as what they contain. RMPs give the press
 and the community a chance to ask some really key questions and
 give companies or facility operators a chance to give some really
 good answers. Some facilities may provide stories by themselves or
 there may be stories  to write about groups of facilities (for example,
 farm supply dealers in rural areas).
   The information that the RMP Rule requires companies to
 submit to EPA (and EPA to make public) is only a fraction of the
 safety analysis companies are actually required to perform. Report-
 ers and citizens have every right to ask companies to make more
 information public, and companies have a right to say no. How
 companies respond may itself be informative.
   Other sources of information are reports under EPGRA and the
 OSHA PSM and Hazard Communication Standards. The PSM
 Standard covers a wider range of flammable and toxic substances
 than the RMP Rule does. It also covers explosives, which are not
 covered by the RMP Rule.
   Under the PSM Standard, companies are required to give infor-
 mation only to employees, not to the general public. But nothing
 prevents employees from sharing that information with reporters.
 You may find that local labor union officials working on occupa-
 tional safety and health issues are very good sources of informa-
  Another potential source of stories is information available
under air and water permitting programs, hazardous waste handling
and cleanup regulations, and hazardous substance transportation
regulations. Also, states such as California and Oregon have their
own chemical safety  requirements.

Looking at Risk Management Plans
After a facility has filed, or "registered," an RMP, you can get the
summary information from EPA through RMP*Info™ (http://
www.epa.gov/enviro) fairly quickly. Another source for RMP execu-
tive summaries is RTKNET (http://www.rtk.net).
   Once you get the summary of the RMP, visit your LEPG or SERG
and ask them for the complete plan (see chapter 4, page 40 and 41
for some restrictions on what they can distribute). If your LEPG or
SERG has no more information than EPA's RMP*Info™, call the
company and ask them for the plan. If they are not willing to share
it, ask them why not.

Program Classification
One of the very first things you want to look at when you get the
RMP information on a facility is how it has classified its regulated
processes—as Program 1, 2, or 3. Although most processes are
likely to be properly classified, you might want to  check the basis
for the facility's self-classification.

Hazard Assessment
Accident prevention begins with analyzing operations to identify
equipment and procedure failures that could lead  to unplanned
spills and releases.  Ask specifically to see as much as you can about
the hazards revealed when the process was evaluated. The RMP
Rule requires facilities with Program 3 processes to conduct a PHA.
Program 2 processes, which are generally less complex than
Program 3 processes, also must identify potential  failures, but a
formal PHA is not required. PHAs identify areas where improve-
ments can be made in system design, operating procedures, train-
ing, and other incident prevention strategies. This is a critical step
leading to the OCA. If all the potential hazards are not identified,
then the potential effects cannot be analyzed.
   Ask who performed the PHA or assessment. Ask what their
qualifications are or were. Ask the company to give these people
clearance to talk to you. Bring your own experts to review the
analysis. The rule requires that the PHA be done by a team with
professional competence in this field.

The Offsite Consequence Analysis
Also ask to see the OCA. This is the part of the plan that will
probably get the most media attention. It is the part that speaks
most directly of potential dangers to people and the part that is
most controversial.


   The OCA is one of the key tests that determine whether a
process qualifies as a Program 1, 2, or 3 process. If the worst-case
toxic plume or fire would not reach the nearest populated area, the
facility may qualify as Program 1 (See chapter 4, page 35.) Compa-
nies will want to qualify for the simpler Program 1 reporting and
may have a motivation to minimize reportable hazards. So it is
important that the OCA is done correctly.
   A more important reason to examine the OCA is that the lives,
health, and property of your readers, listeners, or viewers may be
at risk. Whether a toxic cloud could reach 5 or 10 miles into a
populated neighborhood can mean a great deal to people living in
the area.
   How do you know whether the OCA is done right? Find some
experts to help answer that question. The accuracy of the OCA will
depend on certain basics that you can examine. One basic is which
chemical is involved and the maximum quantity of it expected to
be stored in one place onsite—information reported in the RMP. A
second basic is the model that simulates air dispersion of the
substance (or fire or explosion). Facilities can use the model under
RMP Rule, called RMP*Gomp, available  on EPA's Web site. They can
also use the lookup tables in the RMP guidance. A third basic is the
set of assumptions that went into that model (e.g., the temperature
of the chemical,  how fast it was released and for how long, weather
conditions). These are prescribed by the RMP Rule to some degree,
particularly for the worst-case scenario. For more discussion of
how an OCA works, see chapter 4.
  As a local reporter, you probably have special expertise on one
key element of the RMP's OCA—the description of the surrounding
populations that might be affected by a  release, fire, or explosion at
the plant. The OCA is supposed to contain a description of these
populations. Check its accuracy and completeness. Is the popula-
tion estimate within the circle drawn around the plant accurate?
Are any schools, nursing homes, or other vulnerable facilities left
out? Are office buildings or shopping malls found nearby? Could
the area be evacuated quickly?

Hie Five-Year Accident History
Another key element of the RMP is the 5-year accident history.  To
qualify for Program 1, a facility must have had no releases in the
last 5 years that led to offsite death, injury, or environmental
cleanup. The accident history can tell you a lot about the potential
dangers a plant poses. If the history in the RMP is accurate, it will
check out in interviews with workers, unions, neighbors,  and local
officials, as well as your own newspaper morgue or database. Also,

46	;	

if incidents have occurred, they may show up in one of the HAZMAT
incident databases listed in the reference section on page 109.

Multiple Processes in One Facility
Most of the RMP requirements apply not to the plant itself, but to
one or more processes within the plant. OSHA defines (and the
RMP Rule accepts) a process as                            '.

     any activity or combination of activities including any
     use, storage, manufacturing, handling or the onsite
     movement of highly hazardous chemicals. A process
     includes any group of vessels that are interconnected
     and separate vessels located such that a highly hazard-
     ous chemical could be involved in a potential release.
While a fertilizer dealer may have only one regulated process, a
large chemical plant may have dozens of processes. It is important
to look systematically at all of the regulated processes within a
plant, because any one could prove hazardous.

Natural Hazards
Consider what natural hazards might cause or add to dangers at
your local plant. Some natural hazards are probably more likely to
occur in your area.  Is the plant near an earthquake fault? Pipes or
tanks ruptured by a minor quake could be a major problem. Is it
located on a flood plain? Propane tanks floated away by floodwaters
are a common hazard (they need to be securely anchored). Light-
ning is a fairly common cause of fires, explosions, and releases. Has
your plant taken measures to arrest lightning in vulnerable areas?
Hurricanes, tornadoes, flood,  drought, heat, and cold are among
the other natural hazards to consider.

Power Supply and Computer/Communications Systems
Ask about the computer systems controlling the processes. Espe-
cially when hazards are involved, the systems they control should
be designed to be fault-tolerant. That is, if the computer crashes or
makes a mistake, the system should naturally revert to a safe
condition. Think of the "dead man's throttle" on a locomotive. If
the computers controlling valves at your plant fail, will the valves
be closed or open? How old is the computer hardware controlling
safety-critical systems at the plant? Has the software been updated
recently to reflect new knowledge about safety and how the com-
puter and mechanical systems can fail?


   Consider, too, the possible consequences of the failure of electric
 power supply or telephone and telecommunication links that
 support the plant. What safety systems depend on electric power?
 For example, does the plant store liquids that remain safe only
 when refrigerated? Is there backup power for refrigeration? If a
 chemical accident does occur, the plant may well rely on tele-
 phones to call for emergency help or to warn the community. What
 happens if an explosion knocks out the phone lines? How well are
 backup systems maintained, and how often are they tested? Hazard
 analysis is supposed to include such considerations. Has it?
   Accidents Waiting to Happen by U.S. Public Interest Research
 Group (USPIRG) and Y2K Readiness of Small and Medium Size
 Enterprises by the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center at
 Texas A & M University are two recent studies that analyze the
 potential relationship between computer problems and hazardous
 chemical releases. Accidents Waiting to Happen can be down-
 loaded at no  charge from USPIRG (http://www.pirg.org/chemical).
 Y2K Readiness of Small and Medium Size Enterprises can be
 downloaded at no charge (http://process-safety.tamu.edu).

 The Prevention Program
 Probably the most important part of the RMP is not the account
 of what could go wrong, but the account of what is being done to
 keep it from going wrong (figure 7). While hardly the most excit-
 ing part of the document, prevention may be the part where
journalistic and public scrutiny is most needed.  The RMP Rule
 and the PSM  Standard require facilities to prepare,  document, and
 carry out an accidental release prevention program that includes
 the hazard review described earlier. Facilities must also compile
 an array of safety information that includes MSDSs, equipment
 inventory, safety limits for operating conditions, and many other
  As with other parts of the RMP, facilities are not legally required
to show you the full information. But if they are doing a good job at
accident prevention, they should be proud and eager to share this
information with the press. Facilities are, however, required to
share the information with employees. So if the company denies
you information, you may be able to get it from employees.
  Even the information that is publicly available can give you a
handle. It can lead to questions about whether the company is
following through on its prevention program. Many of the prevention
programs have existed for some time because they are required
under the PSM Standard.

            Number of Chemical Incidents
                    by Initiating Event
              Mechanical  Human Eiror  ^Natural
               Error           Phenomenon
    Causes of Mechanical Error
                                     Human Factor Causes
    FaHnre to   Construction
    Maintain    Error
      IV.       2%
Human Error
  6354  tvv
Figure 7- Human and mechanical errors are the major causes of spills and
releases. Accident prevention programs should seek to identify problem areas
and resolve them.

RMP Versus LEPC Emergency Plans
A very handy tool in evaluating your local plant's safety and its
RMP is the emergency plan developed by your LEPG under EPGRA.
Conversely, the RMP may help you evaluate the local emergency
plan. Is the information consistent? Are there hazards and risks
mentioned in one but missing from the other? If an emergency
occurs at the plant, will the plant's operators be effective in coordi-
nating with community institutions that need to respond? Is your
LEPG updating its plans in light of new RMPs?

Looking for Prevention Measures Beyond those Required
A good accident prevention program may well include elements not
required by law. Look for these. Ask the company if it has looked
for other opportunities to improve safety and implement changes.
   Environmental groups often emphasize that the intrinsic safety
of an operation can be improved by fundamental design changes
(e.g., switching to safer chemicals). Drinking water purification
plants in many cities use chlorine to disinfect the water, and multi-
ton tanks of chlorine are a serious hazard. Although proper han-
dling makes accidents rare, toxic plumes from a release can injure


or kill people miles away. Some cities have substituted sodium
hypochlorite for chlorine, because it is intrinsically much safer.
Sodium hypochlorite is the ingredient in old-fashioned laundry
   Engineers may be able to find many other ways to build in
safety. In some cases, companies can reduce risk by limiting their
inventory of hazardous chemicals to the supply they will use
quickly, rather than storing large quantities. Some chemicals can
be handled at pressures closer to atmospheric pressure, thus
reducing the speed of release if a leak occurs. Also, some chemicals
can be handled at temperatures closer to the surrounding outdoor
temperatures so that refrigeration failures need not raise the danger
of a release. Ask independent process safety engineers what oppor-
tunities to reduce risk may exist. Ask the company if it has looked
for such opportunities or carried out such changes.

Writing a Story: Questions to Consider

Questions for Plant Managers
  *  How dangerous are the chemicals you reported under the
     RMP? How toxic, flammable, or explosive are these chemicals?
  *  Have toxicity or exposure studies been conducted on these
     chemicals? Have credible scientists verified these studies?
  *  How reactive are these chemicals to water, heat, or other
     substances? Gould this reactivity result in an explosion or
     create another dangerous chemical?
  •*  What are you doing to reduce hazards (for example, reducing
     chemical inventories; substituting less hazardous chemicals;
     improving process design, training, or management controls)?
  *  What is the scope  of chemical safety and emergency response
     training- for employees and contractors? How do you know the
     training has been effective?
  *  Who is in charge of safety? What are their names and duties?
  *  How often does the facility conduct emergency response
     drills? When was the most recent one?  How did it go? What
     was learned?
  *  If a release occurred, how would it  be detected and who would
     be notified?
  *  Does the facility have warning sirens or other mechanisms to
     alert the community of dangerous releases? Do workers and
     neighbors recognize them? When was the last time they were

  * Were accident prevention and emergency plans developed
    internally or was outside help used? Does the facility use
    internal audits or independent, third-party checks to evaluate
    the adequacy of the accident prevention program?
  » What air dispersion model was used? If not RMP*Comp, why
    not? How were scenarios derived? What were the assump-
  » Describe some of the routine steps taken to ensure safety.
    Describe the steps taken to maintain equipment and operate
    it safely.                                            ?
  * Does the facility send a representative to the community s
    LEPG meetings? If so, who? What other efforts have been
    made to coordinate with the community about safety and
    emergency response?
  * What worries the plant manager and employees the most
    about safety at the facility? Why?
  * If the facility is a chemical manufacturer involved in Respon-
    sible Care® (a safety program developed by the Chemical
    Manufacturers Association), ask engineers at a plant to
    describe the codes of practice and to give examples of how
    these practices are implemented.

Questions for the LEPC
  * Who is on the LEPG? How often does it meet?
  *  Does the LEPG have information on hazardous chemical
    inventories  throughout the community available for review?
  »  Have vulnerable populations (e.g., schools,  nursing homes,
    hospitals, residences) been identified?
  *  Has the LEPG prepared and kept current site-specific
    emergency response plans?
  *  Has the LEPG conducted drills and exercises?
  *  Has the LEPG developed and communicated evacuation or
     shelter-in-place strategies?
  *  Have hazard analyses been integrated into  fire and police
     response plans?
  *  Does the LEPG have documents of chemicals onsite from
     EPGRA, RMP, and other regulatory filings?  Are the documents
  *  How does the RMP worst-case scenario  compare to the worst-
     case scenario developed by the LEPG?
  *  Have the LEPG's emergency plans been implemented?


   * Who would decide on an evacuate or shelter-in-place alert?
     How would the community be notified?

Questions Beyond the RMP
Preventing chemical accidents and preparing for them goes way
beyond the RMP. Reporters trying to give their communities a
holistic picture of chemical risks and what the community can do
to reduce them might well look at a number of other questions:

   * What dangerous chemicals do you have onsite that are not
     listed in the RMP regulation? Can you supply an MSDS or
     other chemical hazard information?
   * Are any new hazardous chemical facilities (or expansions of
     existing ones)  being planned for your community? If so, how
     close are they located to vulnerable' populations?
  •* What do the zoning laws in your community say about the
     siting of hazardous materials facilities in relation to populated
     areas? What decisions is your zoning board making about
     HAZMAT facilities?
  *  What do local  zoning laws say about siting schools, daycare,
     hospitals, nursing homes, and the like near hazardous materi-
     als facilities? What decisions is your zoning board making?
  *  Have other community institutions done what they need to do
     to prepare for a chemical emergency at a specific plant? Do
    schools, nursing homes, daycare centers, or prisons have
    shelter-in-place drills and evacuation plans? Do hospitals,
    clinics, and trauma centers have the capacity to deal with
    casualties from a large accident? Have highway and traffic
    authorities taken steps to ensure bottlenecks don't impede
  * How does the information in the RMP stack up against other
    measures of a facility's environmental performance? How
    does the RMP information compare to information submitted
    under EPGRA? How does the RMP compare to what you know
    about the facility's production and use of raw materials? To its
    air and water discharge permits? To its shipments of hazard-
    ous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery
    Act or releases  of hazardous materials under GERGLA?

52		:	
Questions to Answer for Citizens
Experts say that when citizens learn about hazardous chemicals
used near them, they most want answers to questions such as the

   * What are the health effects of hazardous substances at
     the site?
   * Are community injuries or deaths likely from this site's
   * How does it affect the environment?
   » Is the facility addressing this potential risk?
   * Can alternative chemicals be used?
   * Are community planners and responders aware of the
     facility's emergency response plans?
   * How can I independently verify this chemical risk
   * Is the facility reducing, eliminating, and preventing possible

                             Chapter   6
 When the Siren  Sounds:  Reporting
 on  a  Chemical Emergency
 This chapter highlights a few things reporters should consider when
 reporting on a chemical emergency—before heading to the site, at
 the site, and after the event.
   Even before an emergency, it is a good idea to compile a list of
 the names and phone numbers you are likely to need in case of a
 chemical emergency. The list could include the members of the
 LEPG, the chief of your local HAZMAT team, the chief of the fire
 department, the director of the local emergency management
 office, the press and chemical emergency contacts for major local
 facilities, local university chemical engineers and toxicologists, the
 chair of the SERG, and the emergency contact at the EPA regional
   You may find contact names and numbers in the LEPG's emer-
 gency response plan, TRI, or the local facilities' RMPs. A contact
 and referral guide is also included on the National Safety Council's
 Crossroads Web site (http://www.crossroads.nsc.org). Also check
 EPA's Web site (http://www.epa.gov/ceppo). If you have a radio
 scanner, try finding out what frequencies local HAZMAT responders
 use, not only for dispatch but also for operations.
   Understanding the existing chemical hazards in your community
 and facility and community emergency preparedness (discussed in
 chapter 5) is very helpful when reporting on an emergency. This
 knowledge, for example, will allow you to be aware of the possible
 risks, the populations at risk, and the community's and the facility's
 emergency response plans ahead of time, which can make report-
 ing more efficient and effective.

 Preparation Before Heading for the Emergency Site
Before you head to an emergency site, have a copy of the LEPC's
emergency plan and the facility's RMP (if it filed one), including its
OCA and emergency response plan. Have hazards  at the facility
had been identified? Did the LEPG identify this plant as a potential
hazard? Did the plant notify the LEPG of its use or storage of
hazardous substances? Did it file a Tier-II form? Has a vulnerability

                                zone around the facility been
                                identified? Was the LEPG aware
                                of the presence of the affected
                                chemicals at the facility? .
                                  Take with you a list of the
                                names and phone numbers of
                                people you may need to  contact
                                (e.g., LEPG members, local
                                HAZMAT responders, facility
                                spokespeople, and chemical
A Reporter's Safety Checklist
A critical point to keep in mind is that the very aspect of the event
that makes it newsworthy—the sudden and uncontrolled release of
hazardous chemicals—may make it a risk for reporters covering
the story. You do yourself and your readers, listeners, and viewers
no favors if you become involved in the story and suffer adverse
health effects that either diminish your ability to cover the story or
delay the cleanup efforts under way.

   » DO NOT GO INTO THE "HOT ZONES." Hot zones contami-
     nated with hazardous materials present health risks to report-
     ers just like other people. Also, transgressing those borders
     can be dangerous to official response personnel whose full
     attention during such an emergency should be focused on the
     response and cleanup.
   * Upon reaching the scene, find the designated emergency
     response officials who are responsible for dealing with news
     media while emergency response actions are underway. Many
     facilities will have spokespersons and meeting areas
     specifically for the media.
   * Be aware that electronic equipment, such as cameras and
     recorders, can be damaged by hazardous materials and can
     cause sparks that could worsen the  situation.
Questions to Ask at the Site
The Particular Chemicals and the Release
     What chemical or chemicals were involved in the incident?
     How much was released? When did the release occur?
     Is it a gas, a liquid, or a solid?


   •*  At wliat temperature was it released?
   *  Where on the property was it released?
   *  How fast is the chemical likely to travel offsite? How fast will
      it disperse? Where is it likely to go?
   *  Is the chemical reactive? When mixed with other materials,
      will it become more volatile or hazardous?

 Meteorological Factors
   *  What are the current temperature,  humidity, and wind
      conditions? Are they considered favorable or unfavorable as
      they affect the spread of the chemical?
   *  What is the short-term forecast for  changes in the weather?
      How will it affect the chemical?

 Physical Surroundings and the Community
   *  What is the nature of the area—is the terrain flat or hilly,
      wooded or open, rural or developed? How might the physical
      environment affect the seriousness of the incident?
   *  How close are the nearest residences or businesses? Are
      population centers nearby that might be particularly vulnera-
      ble such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or
      shopping centers? Have they been notified of the release?
   *  Are nearby residents being instructed to evacuate or shelter-
     in-place? What are the criteria for deciding?
   *  What key infrastructure facilities (e.g., water supply, sewer,
     power, police, transportation routes) might be affected by the

Health Risks
   * What are the potential health effects of the chemicals
     involved? How do health risks relate to the duration of
     exposure? Route of exposure? Concentrations?
   * By what routes are humans exposed to the chemical? Is it
     inhaled? Is it absorbed through the skin? How do those routes
     of exposure relate to  potential health effects?
   *  Would adverse human health effects from the chemical be made
     worse by exposure to a different chemical at the same time?

        Protecting the Public: Sheiter-in-Place Versus Evacuation
    There are two basic ways to protect the public in the event of a
  chemical release into the air: evacuation away from the toxic cloud or
  sheltering  in a protected area. Emergency management profession-
  als generally agree that evacuation is more effective-if time allows.
  Because time is often not available, however, other options need to
  be considered to protect populations in areas around facilities with
  hazardous chemicals.
    Shelter-in-place is simple in concept; it takes advantage of the in-
  herent protection provided by buildings to limit people's exposure to
  toxic gases in a chemical release. The critical factors in the effective-
  ness of sheltering-in-place are how long the building is exposed to
  the toxic gas and how quickly the toxic material gets to where people
  are in the building. Several analyses have shown that in-place protec-
  tion can be effective for up to several hours, depending on the "tight-
  ness" of the place  used as a shelter. A few simple steps, such as
  turning off heating and air-conditioning, closing windows, and going
  to an interior room  can significantly limit exposure. More  extensive
  efforts could include sealing an interior room with tape and plastic.
    Even with these  efforts, as a cloud of gas from a  chemical acci-
  dent surrounds a building, some of the toxic gas will begin to seep
  into the air within the structure. If the toxic cloud remains long enough,
  the toxic concentration  within the building will eventually reach a dan-
  gerous level.
    Shelter-in-place and  evacuation  both require that the public take
  some action  to be effective.  For  either to work, the  public must
  (a) believe that the action will  be  effective,  (b) understand  how to
  carry out the action, and (c) be capable of doing so. Some research
  shows that people are more likely to follow evacuation instructions
  than shelter-in-piace instructions.
    John Sorenson and  Barbara Vogt (1999), of Oak Ridge National
  Laboratory, analyzed public response to a recent chemical emergency
  in Arkansas. People in  part of the affected area were instructed to
  evacuate while people  In another part of the affected area were in-
  structed to shelter-in-place. Those  in the evacuation  area generally
  did as they had been  instructed.  However, a significant number of
  people who were instructed to shelter-in-place also evacuated.
    Similarly, in Deer Park, Texas, where industry and local authorities
  have actively promoted  shelter-in-place over evacuation for more than
  5 years, a 1995 survey of Deer Park residents indicated that  more
  than one in five said they would probably evacuate  if  warned of a
  chemical emergency (Heath et al.,  1995).

       Impact of Hazardous Chemical Releases
                                              Death or Injury
                                   Property Damage
                                                     •    ...
                                                     Evacuation of
                                                    Workers or Public
        Incidents with the
        Potential for Harm
Figure 8: The CSB found that approximately 605,000 hazardous chemical releases
were reported from 1987 through 1996. Of the more than 600,000 incidents
that occurred during this 10-year period, about 29% resulted in at least one
death or injury (9,705 incidents), evacuation of workers or the public (4,167
incidents), or property damage (164,082 incidents). (CSB 1999)

Questions to Ask After the Event

Follow-Up Questions
   *  How many people were injured or killed? How many were
     employees? What is the nature of any injuries? (See figure 8.)
   «•  How did the incident happen (e.g., negligence, poor safety
     procedures, storage conditions, act of nature)?
   *  What is the safety record of the facility involved (look at the
     5-year accident history in its RMP, if it submitted one)? What
     about the record of its  parent company?
   *  How was the incident cleaned up? How long did the cleanup
   *  How was the surrounding environment affected?
   *  Have similar incidents  occurred in the area?
   *  What active (e.g., sprinklers) or passive (e.g., dikes) mitigation
     devices were in place?

58	:	:	

  * Was the facility required to report the incident under any
     federal legislation such as EPGRA, RMP, Spill Prevention
     Control and Gountermeasures Plan Rule (40 GFR 112), or the
     PSM Standard? Under state or local regulations? Is it in
     compliance with these regulations?
  * Did the facility have an emergency response plan? Did the
     plan work during the emergency?
  * Had the facility defined a vulnerable zone? If so, how did this
     zone compare with the actual area affected?
  * What chemical safety and emergency response training does
     the facility provide to its employees and contractors?
  * What routes are used by the facility to ship and transfer its
     hazardous materials?
  * If the incident involved a storage area, were the storage
     conditions adequate?
  * Was the facility aware of the risk of an emergency? Was it
     identified in the RMP?
  * Did the facility have equipment onsite to detect a release?
  * Was emergency medical care available onsite?
  * Are there any possible substitutes for the chemical released?
     What are the environmental and health issues posed by
     substitutes? What are the economic issues involved in using

Questions for the LEPC
  * Had the LEPG identified the facility as a possible hazard?
  * Had the LEPG determined the potential vulnerable zone
     around the facility due to the chemicals stored onsite?
  * Did the LEPG have an emergency response plan? Did ft work
     during the emergency?
                       I                                   i
Questions for Emergency Response Officials
  * Which emergency response teams responded to the incident
     and why?
  * How did response personnel respond to the incident?
  * Were they trained in hazardous materials response proce-
     dures? If not, why not?

                             Chapter  7
Reporting on  Routine
Chemical Releases
In addition to information on accidental releases potentially
resulting in emergency situations, TRI includes information on
routine, planned releases of chemicals. A number of organizations
have drawn up suggested questions about routine releases based on
the Section 313 TRI reports.
  The following are some questions based on suggested questions
from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environ-
mental membership organization:

  * What percentage of the total reported releases is routine?
    What percentage is accidental?
  * What is the basis of the emissions estimate? Actual measure-
    ments provide the most accurate information. When and for
    what chemicals were they performed?
  * Has the industry measured or estimated human exposure to
    the chemicals?
  * Are there air or water monitors? Are they located downwind
    or downstream of the disposal locations? How far are they
    from the point of release? How often do the monitors collect
    the samples?
  * What concentrations of the chemical have .been detected? Is
    the chemical harmful in that volume? Which substances
    disperse or degrade?
  * What are the environmental and health effects of the chemi-
    cals released? Are health effects long term (chronic) or short
    term (acute)?
  * What health effects has the particular chemical been tested
    for? What health effects have not been tested for?
  * Is the reported risk for a person with the most exposure or a
    person with average exposure?

eo	.	:—

  * Do the major sources of the toxic releases within the facility
     have pollution controls? Are any additional control measures
     available? If so, have they been installed? If they have not
     been installed, why not?
  » Has the company ever analyzed what can be done to reduce
  * Has the company reduced or increased releases from the last
  * Do federal, state, or local standards regulate the  release of
     these chemicals? What federal, state, or local permits apply to
     the facility? Is the facility in violation of any of these permits?
  * Are there less toxic substitutes that could be used?

  Reporters might also consider some questions about what isn't
available under TRI:

  * Has the company kept the identity of any chemical releases
     secret? If so, why?
  *• Do other facilities exist in your community that  are not
     covered under TRI but that may be releasing the same
  * Are there any local facilities  that have not filed their required
  * What chemicals are released but not covered under TRI?

  Activist environmental organizations, of course, are not alone in
putting forth questions concerning chemical information. The  ;
American Chemical Society poses the following questions for local
public health officials to ask. They are questions that in many  cases
cannot be answered based on the  information available under
EPGRA, but they are questions that might be sparked  by the
availability of that information:

  * Were releases continuous, intermittent, or planned?
  * What else is the chemical combined with or in the presence of?
  * How often, when, and how are the releases occurring? What
     were the quantities emitted per day?
  * At what height are emissions released?
  * At what temperature are emissions released?
  * Where on the property did the release occur?
  » What is the predominant daily wind direction? Are releases
     restricted during certain wind or weather conditions?


 What are the potential exposure routes (e.g., drinking water,
 air, surface water) for the community?
 Are the concentrations safe? What is the danger of chemicals
 detected at low concentrations? What is the source of that
 How much of the chemical could be safely breathed or
 ingested by an individual?
 Is anyone in the community at risk? (LEPGs, using 302, 304,
 and 311/312 data, may be good sources of perspective on this


                              Chapter  8
 Your Computer as  a  Reporting Tool
 The computer is as important a tool for reporters as the telephone
 and notepad. Many media outlets hire specialists in computer-
 assisted reporting. While computer-assisted reporting has grown in
 popularity as a buzzword, many editors and reporters still don't
 fully understand its vast potential.
   TRI came out shortly after the dawn of the computer-assisted
 reporting boom. It was one of the earliest and biggest opportunities
 for reporters specializing in the environmental beat to do computer-
 assisted reporting. Over the years, it supplied the raw material for a
 lot of stories, many of them good and some of them great.
   Since the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the
 possibilities for computer-assisted reporting have grown even
 further. Most reporters now  use the Web for basic information
 gathering, almost as a reference library. This "lookup" function of
 the Web or computer databases is handy and certainly the most
 common way databases are  used in reporting. Yet it scarcely begins
 to exploit the possibilities of the computer as an investigative tool.
   One of the most useful resources for reporters wanting to
 explore the computer as an  investigative tool is the National
 Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting (NIGAR, http://
 www.nicar.org), an arm of Investigative Reporters and Editors
 (IRE). NIGAR provides training and maintains a listserve. It also
 collects useful government databases, puts them into user-friendly
 formats, and then makes them available to reporters at nominal fees.
   Environmental groups have also taken advantage of computer-
 assisted reporting opportunities. A prominent example is USPIRG,
 which did a report in November 1996 titled, Costly Chemical
 Cover-Up: Anti Right-to-Know PAC Contributions. It used Federal
Election Commission data to examine the relationship between
 chemical company campaign contributions and congressional
 opposition to chemical right-to-know laws. Another example is
USPIRG's July 1998 report, Too Close To Home: A Report on
Chemical Accident Risks in  the United States. It took available
information from TRI and population data and used air-dispersion
modeling to calculate worst-case chemical releases for areas all
over the United States. EDF's Chemical Scorecard Web site

(http://www.scorecard.org) has essentially done the data crunching
to make a "local story" on chemical hazards for any place in the
United States.

National Databases
The quantity and variety of electronic data available to reporters
interested in toxic and hazardous chemical issues have grown over
the years. A few of the national databases are described below.

The Toxic Release Inventory
TRI is one of the major national  environmental databases, and,
because data have been accumulating for more than 10 years, it
has become one of the largest. TRI has also become easier to
access and use.
  TRI is available through EPA's Envirofacts Warehouse
(http://epa.gov/enviro). You can query the database to request
specific data. You could,  for example, ask for complete TRI
information on all the reporting facilities within your city.  Or you
could ask for the names and cities of all the facilities nationwide
releasing hydrofluoric acid.
  If you have a more ambitious project in mind, or want to have it
on your own computer for handy reference, you can also get a copy
of the entire TRI database. Most  of the historical data are  available
free in CD form.

RMP*Info™ (http://www.epa.gov/enviro) is EPA's database that
contains the registration  and executive summary information from
RMPs submitted by each  facility. Facility operators submit their
data electronically through Submit™ and then certify it with signed
hard copies.
  Because of a law passed in August 1999, RMP*Info™ and other
electronic databases will not include information on the facilities'
worst-case and alternative scenarios, at least not until after August
2000. (See chapter 4, page 40 and 41 for a discussion of restrictions
on distribution of the OCA data.)

Envirofacts Warehouse
Envirofacts Warehouse (http://www.epa.gov/enviro), EPA's gateway
to most of its online databases (including RMP*Info™ and TRI), is  a
valuable tool for environmental reporters. Part of its usefulness lies
in its  comprehensiveness. It includes, for example, databases of
wastewater discharge permits and air pollution discharge permits,

     ^	  	65

as well as violations of drinking water standards. The other part of
its usefulness lies in the fact that it is geographically focused—you
can get lots of data for a particular area.

Chemical Scorecard
Chemical Scorecard (http://www.scorecard.org) is an online inter-
face that publishes EPA databases and other information on hazard-
ous chemicals in the community. It is run by EDF with funding by
various foundations. Scorecard heavily emphasizes local impacts,
user-friendliness, and citizen action.

RTK Net (http://www.rtknet.org) is operated by the nonprofit OMB
Watch and the Unison Institute. It is  funded by various government
agencies and foundations. RTK Net provides free access to numer-
ous  databases, text files, and conferences on the environment,
housing, and sustainable development.

Many other databases are available that relate to chemical releases
and chemical hazards. A selection is listed on the National Safety
Council's Crossroads Web site  (http://www.crossroads.nsc.org).
General Project and Story Ideas
Accident History
Each RMP should have a 5-year accident history. To help determine
whether it is complete, you can check RMP data against one of the
six or more federal accidental release databases in the reference
section of the RMP. Of course, you should check human sources
too, such as plant employees or local HAZMAT responders.

Federal-State Comparisons
Many states have their own reporting and database requirements, arid
each is different. Try to confirm EPCRA, RMP, or PSM data against
relevant portions of any state database available to you. Inconsisten-
cies may help identify reporting violations or other stories.

Cancer and Disease Incidence
Look for whatever cancer (or other disease) data are available,
for example through the National Cancer Institute's Surveil-
lance, Epidemiology, and End  Results (SEER) database


(http://www-seer.ims.nci.nih.gov/). Ask your county and state
health departments what data they have available. Does disease
incidence in your area correlate with toxic releases? To properly
understand these questions, you will need the expertise of profes-
sional epidemiologists.

Cumulative Exposure
Examine the data for your locality in EPA's Cumulative Exposure
Project (http://www.epa.gov/oppecumm/index.htm). This project is
examining how much toxic contamination Americans are exposed
to cumulatively through air, food, and drinking water. Remember
that these are estimates. Local breakdowns are currently available
from the Chemical Scorecard Web site and may eventually be
available from EPA. TRI data can be used to identify which releases
may be responsible for the highest exposures in your locality.

Pollution Database Consistency
Check data on releases and chemical use from TRI and RMP
against data from EPA's other pollution databases. EPA's wastewater
discharge permits (the Permit Compliance System database), air
pollution sources (the Aerometric Information Retrieval System/
AIRS Facility Subsystem database), and hazardous waste handling
(the Resource Conservation and Recovery Information System
database) are obvious starting points. All of these databases can be
accessed through EPA Envirofacts (http://www.epa.gov/enviro). Do
data from one source suggest  that data from another source may be
unreported, underreported, or unaccounted for?

OSHA Violations
If there is a particular plant whose releases concern you, you may
want to check out any OSHA violations. OSHA's Integrated Manage-
ment Information System database (http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/)
details OSHA plant inspections and whether or not violations were
found. Look into any violations involving hazardous chemicals—
you may find significant subthreshold or unreported releases or
careless practices that could result in releases. You can also get the
data from NICAR's  database library for a fee.

Chemicals of Concern
One or more major plants in your area may have routine emissions
(or potential releases) of particular  chemicals that are especially
large. TRI and RMPs will help identify them. Are there other
sources of the same chemicals (or family of chemicals) that might


 add to the total exposure? What are the health effects of these
 chemicals? What are the estimates (if any have been made) of the
 actual exposures to these chemicals?

 Nationwide Company Performance
 Your local plant may be one of many owned and operated by a
 large corporation. Its toxic releases and the hazards it presents to
 your community may be part of a larger picture of corporate
 performance. You can use TRI, RMP*Info™, and other databases to
 try to build a picture of the situation at the company's other plants.
 Does the company have a good overall safety and pollution record?
 How does that record compare with those of other companies in
 the same industrial category?

 Local Laws, Programs, and Codes
 Explore how local laws and rules take  chemical safety into account.
 For example, what are the provisions in the local fire and building
 codes that apply to buildings where hazardous chemicals are
 stored, processed,  or used? Are there databases of fire inspections,
 building permits, or other local regulatory actions? Try matching
 these with TRI and RMP data.

 Mapping Project and Story Ideas
 As desktop computers have grown in power during the last decade,
 enormous advances have been made in the use of maps to organize
 and display information in databases. Such systems are often called
 geographic information systems (GIS). A number of GIS databases
 and software packages have been developed specifically for environ-
 mental information.
   When EPA began consolidating the user interface to its databases
 under Envirofacts, it suddenly became possible to easily see how
 many kinds of environmental information related to a single
 location. Not only was it possible to see all the air and water
 pollution dischargers in a single town, for example, but it was also
 possible to further connect such data with local natural resource
 features or demographics.
   A number of map-oriented systems have hazardous chemical data,
 in addition to Envirofacts. EDF's Chemical Scorecard does perhaps
 the best job of making data user friendly and community relevant.
 There are numerous systems for organizing geographical databases.
 Explaining the complexities of them is beyond the scope of this
guidebook, but you can find more information at the Census Bureau's
Web site  (http://www.census.gov/ftp/pub/geo/www/faq-index.html).

Most systems work by associating data with particular coordinates
in two-dimensional geographical space, such as latitude and longi-
tude on a map (a third dimension, altitude, is also common). There
are several widely used commercial software products such as
ArcView (http//www.esri.com) or Maplnfo (http://www.mapinfo.com).
Another, developed by the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmo-
spheric Administration, and the U.S. Census Bureau, is called
LandView. LandView is distributed free online (http://www.rtk.net).
Further information is available from the U.S. Census Bureau
   GIS mapping is a great way to generate graphics that will be
meaningful to your audience. Here are some ideas that may get you
started on stories.

Map the Footprints
Map offsite footprints of the worst-case and alternative scenarios for
all the RMP sites in your community. How would the footprints
change if various assumptions were changed? How much of your
community is potentially vulnerable to hazardous chemical

Map Vulnerable People
Use available maps (traditional and digital) to identify the human
receptors that might be affected by hazardous chemical releases
in your community:  schools, hospitals, daycare centers, nursing
homes, and the  like. People in your newsroom are probably an
excellent source of information about such facilities, even if the
facilities are not on the maps. How do the human receptors you
can identify compare with the ones identified by companies in
their RMPs?
                *      ;                                  i

Describe Vulnerable Populations
Use Census maps and data to describe the demographics of popula-
tions within the  "footprint" areas that would be affected by a worst-
case accident in the various RMPs. What can you learn about the
age, economic level, race or ethnicity, and possibly reproductive
status of people  who are most vulnerable to accidents?

Map Zoning Restrictions
Compare the vulnerable populations with the zoning maps or
"Master Plan" maps (if any exist) for your community. You may be
able to layer onto this further data about property taxes or assess-
ments or building permits, depending on what's available. Has there


been much recent new development in vulnerable areas? Have
facilities such as schools or hospitals been sited in vulnerable
areas? Does existing zoning encourage development or siting in
vulnerable areas?

Examine Government Programs
Do any federal, state, or local government programs encourage or
subsidize siting of housing or vulnerable facilities within high-
hazard areas? Is the federal government building low-cost housing
within the vulnerable zone? Is the school board building new
schools there?

Map Cumulative Exposures
Get the estimate data for your community from EPA's Cumulative
Exposure Project. These estimates are made at the census tract
level. Use mapping to compare how these data relate to demo-
graphics and to TRI releases and RMP footprints.

Map Weather, Climate, and Hydrological Data
Weather, climate, and hydrological data are available from the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S.
Geological Survey. What are the prevailing winds? Are releases
upwind of populations? How cold or hot does it get? This affects
equipment and process performance and the behavior of hazardous
chemicals. Does it rain or snow a lot? Is the area subject to hurri-
canes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or landslides? Is the facility on or
near a flood plain? A groundwater recharge area? The watershed of
a drinking water source?

Map Natural Resource Data
Map the data for environmental receptors such as wildlife refuges,
parks, forests, critical habitat for endangered species, lakes and
streams (especially those used for drinking water, swimming,
fishing, or .recreation), or other  sensitive habitats.

Map Transport Routes
Map routes (road, rail, water, and pipeline) for vehicles involved in
transport and disposal of hazardous raw materials, products,  and
wastes associated with the RMP or  TRI facility. How do these routes
match up with accident patterns and vulnerable populations?


Some Issues and Cautions
Many of the problems of computer-assisted reporting have nothing
to do with hazardous chemicals and everything to do with the
computers themselves. These issues are beyond the scope of this
book, but information and advice is available from NICAR and
other sources. Before you launch a computer-assisted reporting
project, it is wise to know what challenges you will face.
  Probably two of the key ingredients in a good computer-assisted
reporting project are knowing where the data are and being able to
ask good questions. This guidebook tries to help you find key
sources of chemical hazard data, especially at the federal level. But
this book is far from exhaustive, especially when it comes to state
and local data. For local and state databases, you may find that a
critical step in your project is getting  a usable electronic copy of
the database you seek. Your state may have open-records and
freedom  of information laws  that will  help. But the data will do you
no good if it is in a medium or format you cannot read. Also, data
can have many errors and inconsistencies that have to be fixed
before you can use it.
  Close  familiarity with the  structure and content of available  data
will help  you formulate questions that can be answered with
computers. There is no substitute for  manually "paging through"
the data  and eyeballing it to get a feel for it. Are there obvious
misspellings? Are there a number of empty fields? If so, do you
understand why? Are the data expressed consistently?  Are the
numbers plausible?
  Computers need consistency. Your database may have entries
for "Acme Corporation," "Acme Corp.," "Acme Chemical," and
"Acme Chemical Specialties  Corp." Are these all the same
company? It makes  a big difference.
  In 1999, EPA began several initiatives aimed at standardizing
its different databases. The  Facility  Identification Initiative
(http://www.epa.gov/enviro/html/fii/index.html) set a  standard
that allows most information about facilities in Envirofacts
Warehouse to be linked. Another initiative was EPA's Sector
Facility Indexing Project (http://es.epa.gov/oeca/sfi/index.html),
which offers a fuller profile  of selected facilities.

                              Chapter  9
 Deciphering  Hazards  and Risks
 Although effective reporting on controversial public health issues
 does not require coursework in toxicology and chemistry, some
 understanding of these subjects is clearly helpful. Understanding a
 hazard often comes down to knowing the following factors:

   * A chemical's health effects
   * The concentration of exposure
   * The duration of exposure

   Terms such as immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH),
 emergency response planning guidelines (ERPG), endpoint, risk,
 distance to endpoint, level of concern, and toxic concentration are
 tools of the trade for emergency managers in government and
 industry to describe the health risks associated with hazardous
 substances in the community.

 Hazard Versus Risk
 A hazard is something that is capable of causing harm. The bigger
 the hazard, the greater the capacity to cause harm. A chemical
 hazard is based on properties intrinsic to the  material and the level
 of exposure. Hydrofluoric acid is toxic; propane is flammable. Little
 can be done to change these characteristics. The severity of the
 hazard often depends on its concentration and exposure.
   Risk is a measure of probability. It refers to the likelihood that
 an event will occur—the possibility of a release. The greater the
 risk, the more likely the hazard will cause harm.  Ideally, risk
 should be quantified—for example, a 10% probability that a certain
 event will occur. Too frequently, however, the data related to rates
of equipment failure, human error, and other  factors are unavail-
able, so it is not possible to reliably quantify chemical risk. Never-
theless, we know from experience that incidents happen more
frequently during some events, such as transfer operations or
process startups.
   RMPs only provide information on the potential impacts of a
chemical release (hazard), not the likelihood it will happen (risk).

    Case Study: Chemical Release Incidents and Community Reaction
    The Richmond County School  Board in Augusta, Georgia, was
  accused by some of courting disaster by building a $20 million high
  school 670 yards from two large chemical plants. Others in the com-
  munity were not concerned.                                •    _
    In July 1998, EPA presented incident modeling data showing that
  the  planned site for the high school was inappropriate because of
  its proximity to the Rutgers Organics and Amoco Polymers facilities,
  which used large amounts of hazardous chemicals. Richmond County
  Emergency Management Director Pam Tucker requested the EPA
  report.  EPA's  projected accident scenarios foreshadowed the real
    On November 17  and 20, 1998, according to reports from the
  Augusta Chronicle, General Chemical Corporation in Augusta, Geor-
  gia, accidentally released sulfur trioxide, which becomes deadly sul-
  furic acid when it comes  in contact with moisture. The first General
  Chemical incident sent 51 people in the community to area hospitals
  complaining of eye and lung irritation. The release occurred at 2:35
  P.M., while students were in school. Students and teachers  at two
  schools, an elementary and a middle school, located less than 2 miles
  away, were affected. The elementary school had a  shelter-in-place
  program, but  it received  no warning  of the November 17th release.
  There was a 2-hour  delay between the release and notification of
  emergency personnel.
    Three days after the first release, the facility released a cloud
  of sulfur dioxide gas as part of a planned process. However, the
  weather conditions  kept the cloud from dispersing as expected.
  Exposure to the cloud forced 39 workers at an adjacent facility to
  seek medical treatment for symptoms that  included shortness of
  breath;  burning and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; and
  nausea and vomiting.
    A November 19th Augusta Chronicle story provides a concerned
  parent's assessment of the first accident. "That's exactly the  type of
  thing we're concerned about," stated  Dietrich Dellerich, a member of
  Citizens for Fair Schooling. "We're concerned about all of the schools
  near chemical plants, but to put a $20 million investment under one
  of the plants is ludicrous. I hope and pray nothing ever happens near
  the new school, but you can't eliminate human error. You have to
  eliminate the  risk."
     But other Augusta citizens believe they can live with these risks,
  the Chronicle  reported. The school board approved the high school's
  construction. Seven schools, including the middle school and elemen-
  tary school affected  by the November releases, are already  located

   less than 2 miles from an area of Richmond County with a signifi-
   cant concentration of chemical plants.
      Deputy School Superintendent Gene Sullivan is one of those who
   view worry as needless.  He was quoted in a December 12,  1998,
   Augusta Chronicle story as saying, "The area is booming; people
   .are buying and building  homes there. We keep harping on this is-
   sue. If it's such a scary area, why are people continuing to live and
   move there?  We are building the school where the people live."
   ,   This case illustrates how information from a facility's RMP could
   be perceived in different ways and could affect community
   decision making.
Conditions and Factors Affecting Chemical Hazards

Chemical Reactions
The first step in recognizing a hazard, is to identify the chemical or
chemicals that could be released. Identification is relatively simple
when a pure material or refined, final products are involved. But
identification can be more difficult if the release could occur while
mixtures are reacting and several raw materials or reaction prod-
ucts are involved. For example, because the two Augusta incidents
(see sidebar) occurred at different stages in the same chemical
process, different chemicals were released by the two events.
   In addition, the reaction of released  chemicals to other materials
in the environment may make it difficult to identify resulting
hazards. For example, sulfur trioxide reacts with humidity and
other water sources to create sulfuric acid. Although the RMP Rule
does not regulate sulfuric acid, it does have corrosive properties
that make it dangerous.

Amount, Rate, and Duration of Release
The amount and duration of a chemical release can affect the size
of the area subject to the hazard, so it is often important to be able
to identify how much material is released for how long. The con-
centration of the chemical in a cloud is also influenced by (a) the
rate at which the release occurs, (b) the size of the area from which
a liquid spill can evaporate, and (c) its temperature. Government
representatives questioned the Augusta chemical plant's initial
report of the quantity and duration of the sulfur trioxide release
because a larger-than-predicted area was affected. However, federal
investigators found no evidence to contradict the reported release.

 74	;	

 This example demonstrates that predictions may not always
 be reliable.

 Weather Conditions
 Variation in the weather conditions under which toxic chemicals
 are released can affect the extent of a hazard. Higher temperatures
 and less wind generally lead to a greater hazard. The sulfur dioxide
 release in Augusta in 1998 demonstrates some of the difficulties in
 recognizing and predicting hazards, because it was an expected and
 permissible startup release. Although this type of release normally
 dissipates quickly without impact, weather conditions on that day
 caused the vapor cloud to settle on the ground, creating a hazard
 that sent 39 people for medical treatment.

 Physical State
 The physical state of a substance—solid, liquid, or gas—affects its
 ability to spread after it is released into the environment (table 1).
 All of the chemicals regulated by the RMP Rule are either gases or
 liquids  that evaporate quickly. Unlike solids, volatile liquids and
 gases can readily create large chemical clouds that can move
.offsite.  This is what happened in the Augusta incidents. Sulfur
 trioxide is a volatile liquid, and because it can evaporate rapidly, it
 formed a dense vapor cloud that affected people several miles away.
   Gas clouds stop forming when the leak is stopped; however,
 liquids  can continue to form a cloud after the leak has stopped.
 Without the means to control the spill, liquids can continue to
 evaporate, increasing the length of time a community can be
 exposed to its vapors and increasing the hazard. The faster a liquid
 evaporates,  the more concentrated its vapor cloud may become.
 The higher the concentrations of chemical, the greater the hazard.

 Flammable Chemicals
 Clouds  of flammable gases or vapors are dangerous because they
 may result in one or more of several outcomes:

   »  Vapor  cloud fire (flash fire)
   *  Vapor  cloud explosion (a more violent flash fire)
   *  Pool fire (burning of large puddles)
   »  Jet fire (pressurized gas or liquid escaping from a hole)
   »  Boiling liquid, expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) (an
      explosive release of expanding vapor and boiling liquid follow-
     ing the catastrophic failure of a pressurized vessel holding a
     liquefied gas, such as propane)


          Table 2: Summary of Hazardous Substances Properties
Physical State
Vapor Pressure
The physical state of the substance affects its ability to
move after it is released into the environment
Gas clouds stop forming when the leak is stopped. Liquids
can continue to form a cloud after the leak has stopped,
increasing exposure time.
The higher the vapor pressure, the faster the chemical
evaporates and the more concentrated a vapor cloud may
Heavy gases tend to create a larger hazard. They tend to
settle at ground level, increasing their contact with living
 Explosions can cause powerful shock waves that may directly cause
 injuries and property damage. Shrapnel and structural damage
 created by the blast may result in additional injuries.
   Fires resulting from chemical releases generally do not have an
 offsite effect; they are typically confined to the property where the
 incident occurs. Sites with the potential for large fires often estab-
 lish distance between the manufacturing processes that handle
 flammable materials and the end of the property line. That distance
 usually prevents fires from spreading offsite. The heat radiating
 from a fire may be more likely to cause injuries and property
 damage in the nearby community.

 Vapor Pressure
 The vapor pressure value is an index of how quickly a liquid will
 evaporate (table 1). The higher the value, the faster the chemical
 evaporates. Most toxic liquids regulated by the RMP Rule have a
 vapor pressure of at least 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) at
 ambient temperature, usually assumed to be 68° Fahrenheit. As a
 point of reference,  the vapor pressure of water is 23 mm Hg. Sulfur
 trioxide has a vapor pressure of 344 mm Hg at ambient temperature,
 indicating that it can quickly evaporate and create a dense vapor
 cloud.  Only two regulated toxic substances (toluene 2,6 diisocyanate
 and toluene diisocyanate) have a vapor pressure less than 10 mm Hg.

Another important property is the density of the gas or vapor (table
 1). Many gases regulated by the RMP Rule are called heavy or dense
gases because they are heavier than air. Heavy gases create a

greater hazard because they tend to settle at ground level, increas-
ing their contact with living things. Air has a density of 1; sulfur
dioxide, a heavy gas, has a vapor density equal to 2.26. High
humidity at the time of the November 20, 1998, release in Augusta
helped to trap the sulfur dioxide gas, allowing it to settle and injure
workers before it could be diluted and swept away by the wind.
   The RMP Rule also regulates some neutrally buoyant gases.
These gases have densities closer to that of air, so they tend to
neither float nor sink in the atmosphere. Wind and atmospheric
turbulence play a large role in determining the extent to which
releases of these chemicals affect communities.

Toxicology for Journalists: How Toxic Is Toxic?
For environmental journalists reporting on a frequently controver-
sial public health issue, a little knowledge of toxicology can go a
long way toward better reporting and better understanding and
explaining "How toxic is toxic?"
   It's not enough for reporters to simply keep in mind the old
toxicology saw that  "the dose makes the poison." Although true,
that point is subject to abuse from those wanting to minimize
environmental risks. Dose is the quantity of chemical to which an
individual is exposed over a given period. Two additional concepts-
potency and exposure—are particularly important. Only with an
understanding of both of these concepts can the health risks of a
given dose be assessed.
   Potency refers to  the toxicity of a chemical, that is "the ability of
a chemical to do systematic damage to an organism," as the
Foundation for American Communications' 1989 Toxicology Study
Guide for Journalists  describes it. Chemicals have potency regard-
less of whether humans or other living organisms actually come
into contact with them. Different chemicals have different poten-
cies. One chemical is more potent than another if a given amount
produces a greater adverse health or ecological effect than the
same amount of the other. Amounts can be expressed in different
terms—as concentrations in the atmosphere or water or in grams
ingested per unit of  body weight. Once the amounts are expressed
in equivalent terms, you can compare  potency.
   Exposure, on the other hand, refers to whether and how a
human or other organism comes into contact with the chemical—
usually by eating or drinking it, inhaling it, or touching it and
having it penetrate the skin. If there were no exposure, there would
be no harm. The amount of risk can vary depending on the nature
and duration of the  exposure and the concentration of the toxic
chemical in question. The human body  metabolizes different toxins

   At different fates, and individual rates vary. When an individual's
 exposure exceeds the body's ability to metabolize it, the toxin accu-
 mulates. When it accumulates to a certain concentration, it can
 cause injury or death. How and why a chemical affects or does not
 affect a human body is a function of its particular chemical structure.

 Health Effects
 Chemicals vary in potency and toxicity. A highly toxic chemical,
 such as sulfur trioxide, can cause harmful effects from exposure to a
 small amount in  a short time. Less toxic chemicals require larger
 doses or longer exposure times to cause effects. Michigan State
 University toxicologists Alice Marczewski and Michael Kamrin (1987),
 with the Center for Environmental Toxicology, write that "Every
 chemical is toxic at a high enough dose. The dose of a chemical plays
 a major role in determining toxicity. Generally, there is no effect at
 low doses, but as the dose is increased,  a toxic response may  occur.
 The higher the dose, the more severe the toxic response that occurs."
   They provide  the following graphic to illustrate the dose-
 response curve for alcohol (ethanol):
                                      Labored breathing

                               T Unconscious

                           r Deep sleep
             No effect
                             Dose —^
Source: Marczewski and Kamrin, 1987

   In addition, the susceptibility of an individual to a chemical
exposure is also critical in addressing the "How toxic is toxic?"
question. Factors such as age, health, nutrition, and medical
history can influence an individual's sensitivity to a particular
chemical. Previous exposures to toxic chemicals can worsen the
effects of subsequent exposures to the same or different chemicals.
   If a chemical does not penetrate far into the body, any effect
would be local, at the site of contact,  rather than systemic or
system-wide. Some chemicals with local effects are considered
corrosive rather than toxic. On the other hand, if the toxic chemical

is absorbed into the bloodstream, it can travel throughout the body
and produce systematic toxic effects in the organs most sensitive to
the chemical.
  Chemicals are acutely toxic when they result in harm after
relatively brief, one-time exposures. In these cases, the harm is
manifested within minutes or hours of exposure and in areas other
than just the site where the chemical first entered the organism.
  The chemicals regulated by the RMP Rule are all acutely toxic.
They may affect various parts of the body and result in several
types of health effects. For example, sulfur trioxide dissolves
readily in water, creating a corrosive solution of sulfuric acid.
Exposure could result in eye and respiratory irritation, such as that
experienced by victims of the Augusta, Georgia, release, or skin
and gastrointestinal tract burns.
  Acute toxicity is often measured as  "LD50" in rats or mice. That
means the dose is lethal to 50% of the  animals tested. Expressed
relative to the  test animals' weights to allow for weight differences
between animals and humans, a lower LDSO means a more acutely
toxic chemical. Of course human metabolism is not necessarily the
same or similarto that of the test animals, so human sensitivity to
the chemical may differ.
  Chronic toxicity applies to a chemical's propensity for harming
an organism over long periods of time—20 or 30 years in the case
of cancers—and as a result of repeated, often low-level, exposures.
Less is known  about chronic toxicity than about acute toxicity, as
testing is time  consuming, complex, and expensive. Results are
complicated by the need to extrapolate from exceptionally high
test doses to doses representative of human exposures.
  The specific toxic effects can take various forms. Some  chemi-
cals cause tumors in tissues (carcinogenic). Others may lead to
gene and chromosomal mutations (mutagenic)  or adverse  effects
on the central  nervous system (neurotoxic).  Still others may cause
reproductive and developmental effects.
  In summary, the potential health effects are  determined by how
much of which toxic chemical an individual is exposed to, how
often, or how long a duration and by what means of exposure.

Facility Safety: A Key Risk Factor
The 1998 chemical release incident in Augusta, Georgia, illustrates
the way release projection data, like the kind that RMPs include,
and media coverage of incidents have informed local citizens. Some
people would find the risk in this situation intolerable. Others will
choose to live with the risk and insist on better emergency plan-
ning from the plants, schools, and emergency response groups.


   An important component in determining a community's level of
 risk is the overall safety of the facility (e.g., its equipment, manage-
 ment practices, worker training, level of commitment to safety).
 Some ways to begin assessing how safe a facility is follow.

 The Past Is Prelude to the Future
 To assess top-level commitment to safety, reporters researching a
 story may want to look at the RMP section that details an organiza-
 tion's 5-year accident history. A history of safety is generally a good
 predictor of future safety.

 Safe Facilities Have Several High-Level Personnel
 Anticipating and Addressing Chemical Safety Problems
 Research  conducted by Garon Chess et al. (1992) suggests that top-
 level managerial commitment to safety increases the likelihood that
 organizations make improvements as a result of independent safety
 inspections, accidents, and community input. Chess continues to
 say that safety and risk management should not be the responsibility
 of just one person or of too many people. She found that organiza-
 tions that perform well at risk management assigned several top
 managers to identify and solve safety problems. In fact, healthy
 competition developed between the managers, and bad news was
 more apt to travel upwards: the production manager, safety manager,
 environmental engineer, vice president for public relations, industrial
 hygienist, and the human relations manager all wanted to claim
 credit for identifying and solving problems (Chess et al. 1992).

 Budget Allocations Suggest Priorities
 Safe facilities invest in proactive safety measures and work to
 identify safety problems. Instead of waiting for accidents  to reveal
 weaknesses, these facilities conduct routine safety audits, inspec-
 tions, and emergency drills. They secure multiple, independent
 safety audits from international, national, and local inspectors.
 Some companies  use monetary rewards to encourage line workers
 to alert  supervisors to safety problems.

 Emergency Response Is Built on Strong Industry-Government
Working Relationships
For example, before an accidental release (which harmed workers
and caused a nearby daycare center to be evacuated) at its facility
in West  Lafayette, Indiana, Great Lakes  Chemical had no represen-
tation on the LEPC. After the release, and the adverse publicity

resulting from it, company managers began meeting regularly with
the LEPG. The company also has sophisticated hazardous materials
response equipment it shares with the community.
                       i '                                  i
Safe Facilities Encourage and Learn from Community Input
One company that uses community concern to improve its opera-
tions is Sybron Chemicals of Birmingham, New Jersey. In  1988,
Sybron released an acrid-smelling substance that caused area
firefighters to evacuate citizens. In addition, a plant fire at the
company seriously injured two workers. The community became
hostile toward the company because of these incidents.
   Top management might have reacted by stonewalling. Instead,
the company invested money and time in developing systems that
used community input to make it safer. The company installed an
alert and warning telecommunications system, which can automat-
ically dial Sybron's neighbors in the event of an emergency. The
system can also work like a sophisticated answering machine with
recorded messages about the plant's status. In addition, callers can
leave  messages requesting further information.

Safe Facilities Are Situated in Communities with High
Safety Standards and Regular Inspection Programs
Communities have the power to insist that those who handle hazard-
ous chemicals do so responsibly. One mechanism for enforcing local
safety standards is routine inspections. In large communities like
Fairfax, Virginia, the county government routinely inspects  and issues
operating permits to dry cleaning facilities, printers, newspapers, and
other facilities that handle hazardous substances. For example, Steve
Dayton, manager of the MBC Reproexpress copy shop in Fairfax, says
that when he used anhydrous ammonia to produce blueprints, Fairfax
County inspectors visited periodically to ensure that his ammonia
tanks were chained to the wall, as local codes required.
   In less populated areas, inspection may be more  a matter of
routine conversations between the emergency authorities  like the
fire chief and facility managers. Whether inspection is a formal or
an informal process, its  use should reduce the risks associated with
hazardous substances.

Effective and Assertive LEPCs Result in Strong
Emergency Management Programs
Another indicator of local government's alertness to its role  in pre-
venting chemical accidents is the adequacy of the LEPC. LEPCs
should meet regularly to identify trouble spots. LEPCs have  significant


 authority, if they choose to use it. They can ask for any informa-
 tion relevant to preventing accidents.
   Acceptable risk will vary by community and even location within
 the community. One community's infrastructure, environment,
 budget, and regulatory framework might be able to handle certain
 chemical processes that create intolerable risks in another. A
 community might believe hazardous substances are used safely
 within a company's walls but want their LEPG to inquire about the
 routes used to transport hazardous substances into their areas. For
 example, delivery routes for hazardous chemicals in mountainous
 areas add an extra element of risk. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the
 LEPG invites a U.S. Coast Guard representative to meet with its
 members to help them plan for emergencies involving hazardous
 chemicals carried by Mississippi River barges.

 Safe Facilities Operate in Communities with Alert Local Media
 The news media can help communities understand risks and what
 is being done to minimize them. Augusta Chronicle reporter
 Meghan Gourley, who had access to RMP-like information in 1997,
 said the biggest obstacle she encountered was that plant managers
 worried her stories would panic the public.
   "The idea is to be up front, but fair," Gourley said. "In no ,
 uncertain terms, say [in a story]  that worst-case scenarios are
 practically impossible. Focus on those scenarios that are more
 likely. Be sure to detail not only the elements of the  disaster, but
 also what steps officials are taking to help prevent the disaster."
 Gourley recommends asking facility managers many questions.

 Safe Facilities Are Concerned About Security
 The Federal Bureau of Investigation, EPA, Chemical Manufacturers
Association, and Congress believe that chemical facilities are
potential terrorist targets. These facilities contain hazardous
substances that can cause mass casualties. This belief led to the
enactment of the Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and
Fuels Regulatory Relief Act.
   To reduce the risk of terrorism, the act limits access to right-to-
know information. Nevertheless, the facility remains a security
risk, and reporters should inquire about this vulnerability. Key
questions include—

   * How effectively does the facility secure its perimeter? What
     are its access policies and controls?
   * Can personnel be located and tracked within the facility?

82	'	.	

   * Does the facility or its parent company have a program in
     place to safeguard its databases and communications?
   * Are there protective buffer zones between chemical
     operations and neighbors?
   * Are hazardous operations fortified against bomb attacks?

Community Reaction
In communities where RMP information has already been reported,
citizens generally have reacted by being concerned about their
personal safety. They have tended to decide they are willing to live
with hazardous chemical risks if facilities can ensure good warning
and emergency response systems. Once accidents occur,
communities are often less tolerant. The news media can assist
both communities and facility managers by helping facilities create
awareness and understanding of risk management or risk reduc-
tion, instead of just waiting for accidents that harm people.

lips for Interpreting the Statistics of Risk
Statistical claims associated with chemicals and chemical risks can
be complex  and even contradictory. Washington Post Senior Writer
and Columnist Victor Gohn's book (1989), News & Numbers: A
Guide to'Reporting Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health
and Other Fields  is a valuable tool for reporters covering environ-
mental and other public health issues.
   In Chapter 8, "The Statistics of Environment and Risk," Cohn

     the media are typically accused of overstating, needless-
     ly alarming,  emphasizing the worst possible case, report-
     ing half-baked and unsupported conclusions, or falsely
     reassuring. We do them all sometimes. Trying to be
     objective, perhaps stung by such criticism, we too often
     write only 'on the one hand, on  the other hand' stories—
     I like to call  them, 'he said,  she said' stories—without
     expending any great effort to find the most-credible
     evidence, the most-reliable  statistics, the best-informed,
     least-prejudiced views, the greatest probabilities.

To Cohn the problem arises because environmental writers func-
tion in an arena in that—

   + Uncertainty reigns, and data are incomplete, inadequate, or


    * We are told different things by different people, and distin-
      guished scientists make opposing, even warring, assertions,
      such as "The hazard is horrendous" and "The hazard is
      minimal or nonexistent."
    * Many people don't worry greatly about driving, using seat
      belts, drinking, or smoking, while  others are often concerned
      about lesser and less-certain dangers of nuclear power and
      chemicals in our foods.

    Gohn, citing works of othersf, points to a few basic facts report-
 ers should try to understand:

    * The true complexity of the problem
    * The limitations of science
    * The limitations of analysis
    * The limitations of risk assessment
    * The limitations of scientists

   Muddling one's way through this morass of uncertainty isn't easy,
 but Gohn suggests several factors reporters can consider to help
 identify the "most believable results" and claims.

    *  Have the results been successfully repeated? Reporters
      should verify that health claims have been successfully
      repeated and that different studies of different populations at
      different times show duplicate the  results.
   *  Have the results been successfully tested using more than
      one  method? Results should be reevaluated using different
      mathematical techniques.
   *  Do the claims test high for statistical significance? The
      probability  that the same result could have occurred by
      chance alone should be small.
   *  What is the strength  of the statistical claim? "The greater the
      odds of an effect, the greater the strength of an association,"
      Gohn writes in his book. "If the risk is  10 times as likely—the
      relative risk of lung cancer in cigarette smokers compared
      with nonsmokers—the odds are pretty good  that something is

   tCohn cites work done by Michael Greenberg, professor of urban studies and director,
Public Policy and Education, Hazardous and Toxic Substances Research Center, Rutgers
University; and Peter Montague, director, Hazardous Waste Research Program, Princeton
University. He also cites former Washington Post environment reporter, Cass Peterson.


  * Are the results specific?- Gohn writes that A causes B "is a
     more specific association than a sweeping statement that
     substance A may cause everything from hair loss to cancer to
     ingrown toenails."
  * Can the results be explained by confounding factors or other
  * What is the amount of detail in describing data and possible
     weakness? "There is always a lot of missing data," Gohn
     quotes Michael Greenberg of Rutgers University as saying.
     "There are always missing variables. I tend to have more
     belief in the individual who  admits data weaknesses."

  Gohn offers numerous questions for reporters to consider
asking scientists. A few of them are presented here for illustrative

  * What is your evidence? What do you base your conclusions on?
  » Have you done a study? Has it been published or (at least)
     accepted by a recognized journal?
  * When told about "rates" and "excess risks," ask, What are the
     actual figures? How many people are affected out of how large
     a population?
  * What sort of rates would you expect normally? What are the
     rates elsewhere? How do you know?
  * Are your assumptions based on human or animal data? How
     many people have you examined? What species were
  * Do you believe your sample—the people studied—is represen-
     tative of the general population?
  * How did you pick your sample—at random?
  * Gould the association or result have occurred just by chance?
     Exactly what are your figures for statistical significance? Have
     you worked with a biostatistician?
  * What is really known and what is still unknown? What is the
     degree of uncertainty? Are you missing any data you would
     like to have had?
  » What evidence might have led you to a different conclusion?
  * Are you concluding that there is a cause-and-effect relation-
     ship? Or only a possibly suspicious association? Or a mere
     statistical association?


    * Have the resufts been reviewed by outside scientists? Do most
      people in your field agree that this relationship is right for this
    * What is the highest safe level we can tolerate? Is the only safe
      level zero? Might we be exposed to multiple risks or cumula-
      tive effects? Are there individual sensitivities?
    * What is the relative importance of this risk compared with
      others that we face in daily life?

    "What we need to tell people, basically, are the answers to these
 questions," Gohn writes:

    * Is it a risk?
    * If so, how great or small?
    * Under what circumstances?
    * How certain is this?
    * What are the alternatives?

    In addressing these questions, Gohn suggests that reporters
 "include the uncertainties." He says uncertainties "virtually always
 exist in any analysis or solution. If all the studies are weak, say so.
 If no one knows, say so."
    Reporters should also

      report probabilities ... rather than just that mainstay of
     jazzy leads, the worst case. This is also called the 'as
      many as'  lead ([for] example: 'As many as a jillion could
      be killed'). This is not to say that worst cases should not
      be included—or sometimes be the lead of the story—if
     there is a good enough reason, not just a grab for  a

   Gohn advocates that health and environmental  reporters also
 "put numbers on risks" when possible and that they "compare risks
 when appropriate." He encourages reporters to address "scientific
 and technological fact."
   In the end, he  quotes Cornell University Professor Dorothy
 Nelkin,  author  of Selling Science, as saying, "The most serious
 problem" in reporting on risk is reporters' reluctance to challenge
 their news sources and "those who use the authority of science to
 shape the public view." Nelkin advised reporters, maintain "the
 spirit of independent, critical inquiry that has guided good investi-
gation in other  areas."


                        Chapter   10
 Using the RMP's Offsite

 Consequence  Analysis to

 Identify Community Hazards

 The types of chemicals, their locations, and their quantities are
 available publicly through several EPCRA reportings. The RMP also
 provides this information and goes a step beyond by assessing the
 potential danger these chemicals pose to the community. Reporters
 will be most interested in the hazard assessment information
 provided in RMPs, including the worst-case and alternative release
 scenarios contained in the OGAs. These projections identify the
 populations in danger if a release occurs.
  The OCA is an estimate of the potential harm to people and the
 environment beyond the facility's boarders of a chemical's release.
 It provides the four essential elements needed to understand the

  * What hazardous substance(s) could be released?
  * How much of the substance(s) could be released?
  * How large is the hazard zone that could be created by the
  * How many people could be injured?

  Worst-case release scenarios will often tend to be the most
sensational part of an RMP—but remember that they describe
unlikely, catastrophic events (figure 9). The alternative release
scenarios provide more realistic predictions of events, which, while
still serious, are typically smaller in scale. The RMP also identifies
other risk factor information, such as the 5-year accident history,
accident prevention activities, and emergency response plans.
  While the OGAs provide valuable information, this information
may be difficult to access, particularly detailed information.  (See
Chapter 12 for tips on accessing the OCA information.)

Figure 9- This map shows a worst-case scenario and a more likely alternative
scenario for a typical facility. The differences between the size of the hazard
zone in a worst-case and an alternative scenario can be based on a number of
factors including the facility's emergency response capability, accident history,
or design improvements.
Predicting the Extent of Harm from

Chemical Incidents
For the purposes of the RMP OCA, EPA established specific end-
points (table 2) for toxic and for flammable and explosive chemi-
cals covered by the RMP Rule. Although workplace exposures to
many chemicals have been well studied, relatively little informa-
tion is available about community exposure to these chemicals.
Therefore, toxic endpoints used by the RMP Rule are often based
on conclusions drawn from workplace data. More than the work-
force in a facility, the general population consists of individuals
who may be more sensitive and less able to protect themselves—
the very young, the very old, and the infirm.
   Toxic endpoints used by the RMP Rule are typically more
conservative and are believed by the EPA to represent better
science. Many emergency response planners will be faced with the
challenge of adjusting community response plans to account for
differences between RMP endpoints and previously used level of
concern values. (See "Dr. ALOHA: Choosing a Level of Concern,"
at http://www.crossroads.nsc.org for a discussion of approaches for
selecting a level of concern).
   The EPA used four different sources of information about
responses to chemical exposures when it selected toxic endpoints

   We2:IourMhoils of Predicting Responses to Chemical Exposure
30 minutes
30 minutes
60 minutes
8 hours
Protected .
Healthy, adult
General population
General population
Most workers
- <~ ^
Goal "" '
Escape exposure
without respirator
Allow the public to
escape a hazardous area
Prevent effects that could
impair the ability to take
protective action
Work consistently with no
harmful effects
 specified by the RMP Rule: IDLH, One-tenth IDLH (V10 IDLH),
 ERPG, and threshold limit values (TLVs).
   IDLH values represent the most commonly used source of toxic
 endpoints. IDLHs were originally developed by the National Institute
 for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to guide employee
 respirator selection. Airborne concentrations above IDLH values
 are believed to pose a threat to healthy adult workers who are
 exposed for more than 30  minutes. Longer exposures are likely to
 cause immediate or delayed permanent, adverse health effects or to
 prevent escape from the hazardous environment.
   V10 IDLH measure reduces the acceptable exposure level by a
 factor of 10 and helps to compensate for exposures longer than 30
 minutes. It also compensates for  potentially higher sensitivities
 that can be expected within the general population. Local
 emergency planners frequently use this exposure value to analyze
 community hazard analyses.
   ERPGs were developed by the American Industrial Hygiene
Association (AIHA). They provide three tiers that predict the range
 of effects from a 1-hour exposure. The RMP Rule uses the second-
 tier values, ERPG-2, as endpoints for nearly 30 toxic chemicals.
These values represent the maximum airborne concentration that
nearly all individuals could be exposed to for up to 1 hour without
experiencing or developing irreversible or other serious health
effects or symptoms that could impair an individual's ability to take
protective action. The ERPG values do not account for individual
differences in sensitivities.
   TLVs are used as the endpoints for two chemicals regulated
under the RMP Rule. TLVs were established by the American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (AGGIH). These

9O	._	—	

occupational exposure limits represent concentrations that workers
may be exposed to repeatedly for an 8-hour shift and 40-hour week
without suffering adverse health effects.
Predicting Harm from Flammable Chemicals
The RMP Rule specifies that three endpoints may be considered
when analyzing release scenarios for the 63 flammable chemicals
regulated by the RMP Rule:

   * A 1 pound per square inch (psi) increase in air pressure
     resulting from a vapor cloud explosion: Exposure to a 1 psi
     shock wave will not cause direct injury; it can break windows
     and cause other property damage that could result in injuries.
     Some people within an area exposed to a 1 psi overpressure
     may be hurt. Because glass shards and other shrapnel from an
     explosion may travel a distance greater than the 1 psi shock
     wave, it is possible for injuries to result beyond the distance
     to a 1 psi endpoint.
   * Radiant heat of 5 kilowatts/meter2 (kw/m2) for 40 seconds
     resulting from a fireball or pool fire: Human skin exposure to
     radiant heat of this intensity for more than 40 seconds causes
     second degree burns or blisters, at a minimum.
   * A chemical's lower flammability limit (LFL): The LFL repre-
     sents the minimum percentage of flammable chemical in the
     air that must be present for ignition to occur. When a gas or
     vapor is diluted to a concentration below its LFL endpoint, it
     can no longer create a fire hazard. ,

Predicting the Potential Hazard Zone—

the Distance to Endpoint
Once the endpoint is determined, the  potential offsite hazard
zone of an accidental chemical release—the distance to end-
point—can be predicted by air dispersion models. The models
integrate information about chemical properties and release
conditions and forecast the area that may become hazardous
under certain conditions. Although the flow of  some dense gases
and vapors will be guided by terrain features, wind direction will
generally control movement, creating  hazards downwind from the
point of release.  Since it is not possible to reliably predict when
accidents will occur or what the wind  direction will be when they
do occur, released gases and vapors may travel in any direction.
Therefore, the total area that may be affected by a release is

      At this distance, exposure rr
      1 lead to severe health effects or
      death due to the high chemical
      concentration of the cloud.
                       Distance to Endpoint
                                           Plumb Township
                                               The chemical cloud is less
                                               dense at this distance, and
                                               adverse health effects are
                                               therefore less likely.
 Figure 10: This is a typical map found in an RMP, showing hazardous areas,
 vulnerable populations, and sensitive environments. This map shows the
 endpoint, the distance to endpoint, and the hazard zone for one possible
 scenario. The hazard zone is a circle  because wind variability could cause the
 toxic cloud or fire effects to go in a number of directions.

 represented by a circle with its  center at the point of release. The
 radius of the circle represents the distance to endpoint (figure 10).
   Using EPA's chemical-specific endpoints, facilities can choose
 from several different methods of calculating the distance to
 endpoint. They can use the methodology outlined in the RMP
 guidance or a commercial air dispersion model as long as the model
 is (1) publicly available, (2) accounts for the required modeling
 conditions, and (3) recognized by industry as acceptable. An air
 dispersion model may be more accurate than EPA's methodology
 for predicting the mixing of pollutants in air and the distance to
   The results of any method should be viewed cautiously, because
 few of the fundamental algorithms used by models can be verified
 in actual field tests. Models are designed to simulate reality—a very
 complicated set of variables and  interrelations that is difficult to
 understand and replicate. Differences in the methods used to
 combine the effects of each variable can result in hazard distances
 that vary widely. Predicted hazard distances often lie within a band
 of uncertainty.
   Some OCAs will predict a very large distance to endpoint.
 However, estimating distances beyond 6 miles tends to  be particu-
larly uncertain because of local variations in meteorological condi-
tions and topography. For example, atmospheric turbulence is a
major factor in determining how  quickly a toxic cloud will mix with

                       *       _.           i fcj"   4.1 "H «%*•»«.•. •«*
      .  ^ A Word of Caution on Using Worstjasejcenanos
   "Characteri2ing"datigerus[ni"onlyworst-&lse4IceffarTos bafflemis-
  leading andlinnecessarilylaiarrrnng. Worst-case"sCenarfos £fjmate;
  the"maximum possible area that might be affected by an accidental
  release: They help ensure that potential hazards Jo public health are
  not overlooked. They are"riot intended to represent a "public danger^
 'zone," Nor do worst case scenarios reflect whether processes a re safe.
  Both safe and unsafe processes using the same chemicals at the
  same quantity wi if have similar worst-case scenario ^outcomes.* Jrt
   /ThVobjectives of the worst-case scenario are (ifto create aware-
  nessabout potential hazards at the facility and in the community atid
 "(2) to motivate a reduction of these hazards. Tim Gablehouse of the
  Jefferson County, Colorado, LEPC stressed that worst-case scenarios t
  should not1 be the focus of public discussion. Instead, they should
  lead to an emphasis  ort emergency response, risk communication,
  and prevention efforts. The purpose of the RMP is not to generate
  unnecessary fear'but to educate the public about hazard  reduction
            ^ltj~*.'Vf'r'&"'*i^       "&         ,0*  •>  (B  'f   $•$ C^- *- &
  and emergency response.   "           ^  ^    ^ „ „ M - ^ - »^
the surrounding air and become diluted. And how quickly a
cloud will be diluted to below the endpoint value will affect the
distance it travels. It is dangerous to assume that atmospheric
turbulence and wind speed and direction will remain constant
from the point where a pollutant is being released (Evans 1998).

Understanding the Worst-Case Scenario
All RMPs are required to contain an OCA for a worst-case
release scenario for each regulated process. RMP worst-case
scenarios must assume there is a rapid, ground-level release of
the greatest possible  amount of a chemical from a single vessel
or pipe. Passive mitigation devices, such as dikes and contain-
ment walls around the process, may be assumed  to capture or
control the release if they would be likely to survive the
   However, active mitigation devices  that require human,
mechanical, or other energy to manage releases must be
assumed to fail in the worst-case scenario. In addition, weather
conditions must be assumed to be very mild, producing minimal
mixing of the toxic gas or vapor cloud. These conditions pro-
duce a large, stable cloud with a persistent, high chemical
concentration—the most severe type  of hazard. EPA states that
the maximum hazard zone for worst-case scenarios may be

raWe£fct-te and Alternative Release Scenario Parameters
Factor I
Event selection
Toxic end point
Flammable endpoint
Wind speed/
atmospheric stability
and humidity
Temperature of released
Surface roughness and
nearby obstacles
Dense or neutrally
buoyant gases
Height of release
Amount released
"oxic gas release rate
bxic liquid releases
Distance to endpoint
Produces greatest distance
to an offsite endpoint
Can consider the effect of
passive systems that su rvive
the event
From Appendix A of RMP Rule
Explosion of vapor cloud with
10% of available energy
released (if endpoint is
based on TNT-equivalent
Account for gas density
3.4 miles per hour and F
class stability, unless higher
wind or less stable atmo-
sphere can be shown at all
times in last 3 years
Highest daily maximum
temperature in the prior 3
years and average humidity
Liquids, otherthan gases
liquefied by refrigeration, are
released at highest outdoor
temperature during the prior
3 years or the process
temperature, whichever is
Urban or rural, as appropriate
Model accounts for gas
Ground level
Greatest possible amount
ram a single vessel or pipe
All in 10 minutes
» Instantaneous release
» Pool area is 1 centimeter
deep or size of passive
mitigation area
» Rate at which it evapo-
rates must be calculated
Greatest offsite distance, up
o 25 miles
Release Scenario •
More likely than worst-case
scenario based on the 5-year
accident history orfailures
identified in analysis of process
Can considerthe effect of
passive and active systems that
survive the event
From Appendix A of RMP Rule
Explosion or fire
Account for gas density
6.7 miles per hour and D class
stability or typical conditions
for the site
Typical conditions for the site
The appropriate process or
outdoor temperature
Urban or rural, as appropriate
Model accounts for gas
Determined by scenario
Determined by scenario
Determined by scenario
Determined by scenario
Offsite, if appropriate

quantified for distances up to 25 miles. (Note: Some scenarios
may extend farther than 25 miles, but will not be quantified
beyond that point.)
Understanding How Alternative Release Scenarios

Differ from Worst-Case Scenarios
Alternative release scenarios are based on more likely conditions
and offer more realistic, useful emergency planning information for
the facility and the public (table 3). Facilities are given latitude in
selecting credible release conditions for these scenarios and can
use accident history information or other knowledge of the process
for selecting the hypothetical incident.
   Unlike worst-case scenarios, the weather conditions are assumed
to be typical for the area. In addition, these more likely scenarios
assume that both active and passive mitigation systems operate as

                         Chapter   11
TRI  and  RMP: What They
Can't Tell  You
In a perfect world, all the chemical hazard information now avail-
able under EPGRA and the RMP Rule would be accurate and
understandable. Potential health effects would be readily discern-
ible. Quantities, concentrations, and timing and duration of emis-
sions would be reported with precision. How chemicals interact
with each other in the environment would be understood. Humans
would be foolproof in entering that information into readily accessible
and digestible formats. But the real world of chemicals in the
community is far from perfect.
   Although EPGRA and the RMP program are powerful tools, they
can't provide all the information a community needs to know about
chemical hazards. Rather, think of EPGRA and RMP as a starting

TRI Data Limitations
EPA has been candid in acknowledging the limits of TRI data. Even
assuming that the TRI data submitted by industry is outstanding in
overall quality, reporters need to appreciate other caveats if they
are to take advantage of the full potential of EPGRA for improving
public understanding of chemicals in the community. Here are a
few issues to keep in mind when reporting on chemicals in the

The Data Are Estimates, Not Monitored Releases
   Remember that annual release data submitted to state commis-
sions and EPA in the TRI Form R reports represent company
estimates of the releases, not measured quantities.

The liming of Releases Need Not Be Reported
Companies reporting their emissions need not indicate the timing
of those emissions data over the course of the year. If all of a
particular facility's air emissions occurred during a 6-hour period

 96	'	;	

 during the peak of an atmospheric inversion (an unlikely event),
 you'd never know it just by reviewing the Form Rs. "There is a
 considerable difference, from a public health standpoint, if the
 emissions were in several major bursts or a slow but steady
 stream," Washington Post health writer Gristine Russell wrote. But
 there's no requirement that industries provide a seasonal, monthly,
 or weekly breakdown of how their emissions occurred, just the
 total over the calendar year.

 Data on Human Exposure Is a Major Gap
 One of the most critical elements missing from the TRI is informa-
 tion on human exposure to the chemicals released. Release does
 not equal exposure. Exposure occurs only when a chemical is
 transported from the site of the release to population centers.
 Estimates of exposures can be made from estimates of releases if
 extensive site- and chemical-specific  data are available, for exam-
 ple, height of an air release, wind speed and direction, distance to
 populations, and chemical persistence. These exposure estimates,
 obtained through computer models, are only as good as the data on
 release, meteorology, and chemical fate.
                       I                                   I
 Reductions May Be "Real" or "Paper"
 Reporters also need to pay attention  to how the annual emission
 and release  estimates were calculated. Calculation methods can
 vary from year to year and from facility to facility. Some facilities
 will report emission reductions not as a result of actual reductions,
 but rather because they used a different method of calculating
 emissions. Beware of this possibility.  Ask about the calculation
 methods and how any changes in protocol may have affected
 results. Ask what led to  any reported reductions in emissions.

The List Is a Moving Target
In making year-to-year comparisons,  reporters also need to pay
attention to the chemicals that are removed from or added to the
reporting list. For example, calendar year 1987 reports include data
on sodium sulfate releases and transfers. This chemical alone
accounted for 54% of total releases and transfers for all TRI chemi-
cals. Just one facility in  California reported releasing 5.2 billion
pounds of sodium sulfate—23% of total U.S. TRI releases and
  In May 1989, EPA granted a petition to remove sodium sulfate
from the list of chemicals subject to TRI reporting on the grounds
that it was not of significant concern  as a toxin. With sodium


       included in. the database, California led the list of states
emitting TRI chemicals into the environment in 1987. Without it,
California dropped to ninth position. Over the years there have
been many changes in the list. EPA added some 286 new chemicals
in November 1994. Fortunately, EPA's annual "Public Data Release"
reports have done a fairly good job of helping people compensate
for such changes. EPA's reports give year-to-year comparisons for
"core chemicals"—the ones  that have been on the list consistently
over the years, so that apples and apples can be compared.
   This problem is especially worth keeping in mind when evaluat-
ing companies' claims of reducing their releases over the years.
Make sure they are not claiming credit for reductions that have
occurred because of delisting (or that they are not being unfairly
criticized by environmentalists for increases that result from
additions to the list).

Hie Facilities Covered Change
In May 1997, EPA added seven new industry sectors to the list of
industries that must perform TRI reporting. These sectors included
certain metal and coal mining facilities, electrical utilities, hazard-
ous waste disposal facilities,  chemical facilities, petroleum facilities,
and solvent handling facilities. If you are making year-to-year
comparisons, you will have to adjust for this change.

Chemical May Have Many Names
Chemicals can have aliases,  synonyms, and multiple identifying
numbers. It is a confusing world. If reporters use a popular name or
a trade name, for instance, they may be missing all the other
names under which a chemical is reported. Even the Chemical
Abstract Service (CAS) number is not a guarantee of accuracy.

Hie Scope of Coverage Is Limited
Be aware that only a small fraction of all potentially toxic chemi-
cals are covered by EPCRA reporting requirements. Moreover,
these reporting requirements do not apply to all the facilities using
and storing chemicals—just to those with 10 or more employees in
specified standard industrial classification codes, specifically
including manufacturing facilities. Only those facilities manufactur-
ing more than 25,000 pounds or using more than 10,000 pounds
annually of an affected chemical (with some exceptions) must
submit Form Rs. Accordingly, the TRI database may say a lot about
toxic emissions nationally, but it clearly understates the total
amounts of those emissions.

98	^	.	

RMP Data Limitations
While RMP information adds significantly to the amount and types
of chemical information available, it too has limitations.
                      i                 •.

Not All Hazardous Substances Are Covered
Relying on the RMP to catalog community chemical hazards will
miss some of the hazards. RMPs aren't required to be filed by a
variety of facilities using hazardous chemicals such as propane,
explosives, and some petroleum products. Just because a facility or
process is not required to file TRI or RMP information doesn't mean
your community does not have to worry about chemical dangers.
  Propane, for example, is frequently involved in accidents causing
casualties from fire or explosion. However, as a result of the 1999
Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and  Fuels Regulatory
Relief Act, most propane dealers are exempt from RMP require-
ments. If you rely only on RMP data, you might miss significant
propane hazards. Almost every community has some propane
facilities, and although many are small, it may be worth looking into.

Not All Scenarios Are Listed
The RMP's listing of worst-case and alternate scenarios is an
important description of things that could go wrong. But it is not
the only description. The worst-case scenario is the most cata-
strophic, but the least likely event. Only a few alternate scenarios
need to be included in an RMP, but there may be many ways that
safety-critical systems can fail in a complex chemical plant. Addi-
tional information maybe alluded to in the accident prevention
program section of the RMP. Ask the facility for their PHA or hazard
review to find out more.

Chronic Risks Are Not Addressed
The RMP is particularly aimed at identifying the hazards of sudden,
catastrophic spills, releases, fires, and explosions. Communities
also face potential hazards from chronic exposure to  lower levels of
the same chemicals. TRI quantifies the releases of many of these
chemicals, but it does not estimate human exposure  or health
consequences. EDF's Chemical Scorecard has taken a step further
in this direction by publishing some exposure estimates EPA
doesn't publish.


 fcmspnrtafiM Hazards Are Not Included
 Most hazardous chemicals must be transported to or from facilities.
 Transportation and disposal of hazardous chemicals (which are
 regulated under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of
 1975, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act of
 1990, and other laws), may be a source of hazards. Transportation
 accidents are about as common as accidents at fixed facilities,
 according to the CSB. DOT and EPA databases are available that can
 give you some information about what is going on. Much of the
 transportation and disposal data are in the public record and can be
 found within DOT's Hazardous Material Incident Reporting System.

 Not All Health Effects Are Known
 Scientists don't really know the health effects of human exposure
 to many of the hazardous chemicals in industrial use today. The
 EDF's Toxic Ignorance report, published in  1997, found that health  ,
 information was lacking for three-quarters of the chemicals in high-
 volume production  use today. The "High Production Volume"
 initiative launched by EPA and industry in 1999 is designed to
 assess potential health effects, but results are  years away.

 Only a Summary of the RMP Must Be Submitted
 While the RMP Rule requires companies to conduct numerous
 accident prevention response activities and  to maintain a compre-
 hensive record  of its program, only a summary of this information
 must be submitted to EPA and disclosed to the public. For example,
 the law and rule require facilities to conduct a thorough PHA or
 review to identify all possible hazards at the plant. RMPs must

   * The date of the most recent hazard review
   * Expected completion dates for any changes resulting from it
   * Major hazards identified and process controls in use
   * Mitigation systems in use
   * Monitoring and detection systems in use
   * Changes since the last hazard review

  But the summary submitted to EPA has only the date on which
that review was conducted. That means all that reporters and the
public can get from  EPA electronically is the date—that is all that
EPA has. The date alone is of modest help to communities  in
understanding the nature and magnitude of potential dangers. The
PHA itself might be much more useful.


                         Chapter   12
 Tips  on Getting Offsite
 Consequence  Information
 The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and Fuels Regula-
 tory Relief Act limits the distribution of RMP OCA data and pre-
 vents access for at least 1 year to a searchable, national, electronic
 database that could be posted on the Internet.
   However, there are a number of possible ways to get information
 on facilities' potential offsite consequences. Facilities are allowed to
 disclose their own OCA information. Most of the facilities are
 required to hold a public meeting to discuss their RMP, including a
 summary of OCA information. Some companies have included a
 summary of their worst-case scenario in their RMP executive
 summaries. Some information may be available from state agen-
 cies, the LEPGs, or the EPA regional offices.

 Getting Information from LEPCs and SERCs
 For local stories, LEPGs and SERGs are usually key sources, but
 much depends on the capabilities of the particular agency you are
 dealing with. It is worth getting to know your LEPG, because it
 may consist of individuals, such as a local fire chief or HAZMAT
 responder, who can help you on all kinds of chemical release and
 emergency stories. LEPGs vary considerably. In some states,
 LEPGs scarcely exist, but parallel agencies under unique state laws
 take their place. In other states, a single LEPG may cover a large
 region or the whole state. Keep in mind that their staff resources
 are limited. Although SERCs and LEPGs are required by federal
 mandate, they typically do not receive  any federal operating funds.
Also be aware that some LEPG members may identify with the
 interests of local chemical companies. In addition,  the reporting
facility may actually be a municipal Water or sewage plant, and a
sister municipal agency on the LEPG may act protectively.
  LEPGs and SERGs may have information that EPA does not. An
example is the Tier II information facilities may make available
under EPCRA.  Once the LEPG has the information, they are
required by EPGRA to make it available to the public on request.

Moreover, if the public requests Tier II information that the LEPC
does not have, the law strongly encourages the LEPG to request it
from the facility.

Getting Information from Facilities
The horse's mouth, when it comes to information on hazardous
chemical discharges and emergencies, may be the company or
facility itself. It knows more about its own operations than anyone.
  During the 1990s, many facilities handling hazardous chemicals
opened themselves up to public scrutiny to a degree previously
unimaginable. The  chemical industry as a whole also appeared to
open up in important ways. In the late 1980s, just before the
EPGRA requirements kicked, the Chemical Manufacturers Associa-
tion established a program called Responsible Care®. It amounted
to a code of conduct that stressed continuous efforts  at risk reduc-
tion, proper disposal of wastes, and openness to public  scrutiny.
  Many plants have thrown themselves into this effort wholeheart-
edly. Typically, they tend to be major plants of major companies:
well financed and managerially and technically competent.  It is
worth remembering, however, that many  small companies are not
involved in Responsible Care®.

Attending Public Meetings
The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security, and  Fuels Regula-
tory Relief Act requires facilities (except those under Program 1) to
hold a public meeting to summarize their RMP including OCA
information. Small companies may publicly post the information
rather than hold a meeting. Even before the June 1999 deadline for
RMP submittals, many companies were going public with RMP
information. Groups of companies in various cities put on "roll-
outs" of their RMPs with press conferences and information on
each company. While the companies can  claim credit for initiative
and openness in these events, critics in the environmental move-
ment dismiss them as public relations exercises aimed  at putting a
preemptive positive spin on RMPs and limiting hostile questioning.
  The key to good reporting on RMPs is getting beyond the press
packets and asking probing questions. Use public data to generate
questions. Ask to inspect the plant or go on an inspection tour
when community and environmental groups take one. Having an
outside expert with you during the tour might help. The "safety
information" and "hazard review/analysis" documents generated
during the PSM and RMP processes will be a gold mine  of informa-
tion. While companies are  not legally required to disclose all of this


           , ask to see it. A company's response to such requests
may reveal a lot about their commitment to openness with the

Finding Other Information Sources
Local community action and environmental groups can be great
sources of information on what companies are doing. They may be
active in monitoring companies' actions and scrutinizing proce-
dures and operations.  Union representatives may be able to provide
information related to worker safety and training. Other potential
sources of information and insights may include a company's
suppliers and vendors  and individuals living near a facility.
   Information submitted under other laws and regulations can also
be useful. For example, GERGLA requires that facilities notify the
NRG, EPA regional offices, the SERG, and the LEPG of chemical
releases. There are federal and state plant siting and air emission
requirements, and some states have additional reporting and right-
to-know requirements. Determining whether all required informa-
tion has been submitted to the appropriate entity, and the extent to
which reported values  agree, can provide an indication of the
reliability of particular RMP information.


                         Chapter   13
 Some Issues for Journalists
 and  LEPCs
 EPCRA specified that LEPGs should include representatives of the
 media among their membership. However, relatively few commit-
 tees have managed to include reporters as members. This was not
 simply the result of reluctance on the part of LEPGs, nor was it the
 time pressures of reporters' jobs. It was partly a matter of profes-
 sional ethics. The law's vision of reporters as partners in a commu-
 nity education enterprise conflicted with the media's vision of
 journalists as independent, disinterested observers. A reporter
 could have a hard time writing objectively about the proceedings of
 a committee of which he or she was a member. However, the
 reporter who writes about the LEPG does not need to be the same
 one who sits on the LEPG.
  LEPGs need critics. Some are failing to plan effectively for
 community safety. Yet few newspapers and stations have held
 LEPGs to account by examining how well they are doing their job
 or how they might do it better.
  In the years since EPGRA was passed, the so-called "civic
journalism" movement picked up steam in the United States. In a
nutshell, its premise was that media had a responsibility to be more
actively involved, and to get the public more involved, in govern-
ment policy decisions. The idea was that people needed to under-
stand the choices that government was making and that
government needed to understand what the people thought should
be done. Journalists can do this job on or off an LEPG.

Reporters and Emergency Preparedness
Does the media have a responsibility to educate the public about
how to protect themselves, even if there is no immediate news
hook? A legitimate argument could be made that it does. In addi-
tion, discussions with LEPG members and others could result in all
sorts of stories.
  When hazardous chemicals are involved, an unprepared commu-
nity may well be a community in danger. For example, do people


know when and how to shelter in place? If evacuation is called for,
will people be alerted quickly? Will they know if evacuation routes
are choked with traffic? Do people know what the plant's emergency
siren sounds like? Can they hear'the sirens indoors? If the plant has
an automatic phone-dialing system to alert neighbors, does it work?
Would a new bridge or ramp speed evacuation? Do local hospitals
have enough capacity and skill to handle a chemical disaster? Are
their disaster plans adequate?
   Good preparation  can cost money. While LEPGs may be reticent
to propose costly solutions, the news media may be better situated
to ask aggressive, unsettling questions about chemical emergency
preparedness and to help the public understand the risks and the
options. The news  media can play an important role in chemical
safety—building public awareness, and promoting prevention and
preparation efforts that will lead to greater public safety.
The One Important Question
                                Photo: Copyright © 1999 Houston Chronicle
In the end, there may be only one important question that your
audience or community wants answered more urgently than any
other does: Am I safe? Are my children and family safe? If you get
lost in the details and technicalities of EPGRA and RMP data, you
may easily lose sight of the question and the answers to it, in
human terms.
   EPA has tried to focus on this question. One way it has done this
is by stressing the general duty clause of the GAA. This provision
states that facilities have a
general duty to operate safely,
whether or not they are han-
dling listed chemicals or are
covered by the specific require-
ments of the RMP Rule. So if
you think a facility is doing
something unsafe, and it tells
you everything is perfectly legal
because the RMP Rule doesn't
cover the facility or allows the
behavior, don't necessarily
believe it.
   People want a yes-or-no
answer to the "Am I safe"
question, and the most authori-
tative answers tend to fall
somewhere between  "probably"
and "probably not." Sometimes


a. crusading reporter or environmental group tends to think that
once they have identified a previously unknown hazard, they have
discovered a "truth" that the public needs to know about. The
public certainly needs to know about potential hazards. And while
alarm is a great way to drive up ratings and readership, realism is
just as important. The journalist's responsibility is just as much to
avoid excessive alarmism as it is to avoid excessive complacency.

A Focus on Prevention
A lot can be done to make most plants that handle hazardous
chemicals safer. Safety is something that can be designed into a
facility or process and built from the ground up. When processes
are inherently safe, human error or  equipment failure is much
less likely to result in a disaster. Making processes safer might
require redesign or  substituting less-hazardous chemicals for
more-hazardous ones. It might mean maintaining smaller chemi-
cal inventories. It might mean moving at-risk populations away
from plants by buying up properties within a buffer zone.
  Writing a story that scares people and blames someone is easy. It
is easy to write and easy for people to understand. It is much
harder to write about what can be done to make a hazard safer,
because it requires more detailed understanding and often complex
and difficult choices. The answer to the "Am I safe?" question is
ultimately written not in the present tense, but  in the future tense.
The answer comes not just from alarm, but from knowledge and

no	'	
   Contact: Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
Department of Labor, Public Affairs Office, Room 3647, 200 Consti-
tution Avenue, Washington, DC, 20210, (202) 693-1999.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chemical Emergency
Preparedness and Prevention Office
   EPA's web page for Chemical Accident Prevention and Risk
Management Planning provides very useful, comprehensive infor-
mation. Examples of available information include fact sheets,
questions and answers, newsletters, links to non-EPA sites, section
112(r) of the Clean Air Act, the List of Regulated Substances and
Thresholds for Accidental Release Prevention, the  Risk Manage-
ment Program Rule regulations, technical guidance documents, and
many other resources. EPA will maintain an online database of all
RMPs in RMP*Info. However, RMP*Info will not contain the OCA
data. The site links to free RMP*Comp software that identifies the
size of the geographic area that may become hazardous following
an incident.
   Contact: Carole Macko, Team Leader Communications, Chemi-
cal Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office, EPA, 401 M
Street, SW 5104, Washington, DC 20461, (202) 260-7938,
macko. carole@epamail. epa.gov.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution
Prevention and Toxics
   EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics maintains a Web
site that provides current information on the Toxics Release
Inventory (http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/tri/). In addition, the Web
site provides information on the Chemical Right-To-Right Initiative,
High Production Volume Challenge Program, an  initiative launched
by EPA in 1999 to assess potential health effects of chemical
exposure (http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemrtk/volchall.htm).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act, Underground Storage Tank, Superfund, and EPCRA Hotline
   This site provides information on how to contact the EPA-
sponsored hotline that addresses the Risk Management Program
Rule. Other information resources are also provided. Many related
documents, including those listed on the EPA Chemical Emergency

 Preparedness and Prevention site, can be ordered by calling (800)
- 424-9346 or (703) 412-9810 in the Washington, DC, area.
 Nonfederal Organizations

 Chemical Manufacturers Association
   Contact: James Solyst, Team Leader, Information Management/
 Right-To-Know, Chemical Manufacturers Association, 1300 Wilson
 Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 741-5233,

 CMA Responsible Care® Program
   This Chemical Manufacturers Association web page provides
 information about the association's Responsible Care® Program.
 Safety Street and .other materials on the Kanawha Valley Demon-
 stration Program may also be available by calling (703) 741-5213.

 The Center for Chemical Process Safety
   Information on chemical process safety, engineering design, and
 related issues is available through the Center for Chemical Process
 Safety (CCPS) Web site or by phone at (212) 591-7319. CCPS is a
 nonprofit professional organization affiliated with the American
 Institute of Chemical Engineers.

 Hie National Safety Council/Crossroads
   The Environmental Health Center's Crossroads Chemical
 Emergency Management page is designed to expand and strengthen
 the network of organizations involved in emergency planning and
 response, chemical safety, and hazardous chemical rules and
 regulations. This Web page will continually evolve to feature a
 comprehensive risk communication repository focusing on the Risk
 Management Program Rule. Additional useful resources not includ-
 ed in this document can be found at this Web site.
   Contact: Lee Feldstein, Environmental Health Center, A Division
 of the National Safety Council, 1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW,
 Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-2270,

Hie Working Group on Community Right-to-Know
(http://www.rkt.net/wcs or http://www.uspirg.org)
   Contact: Paul Orum, Coordinator, Working Group on Communi-
ty Right to Know, Washington, D.G. (202) 544-9586,

Federal Data Sources

The Emergency Response Notification System
   The Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) is a
database used to store information on notifications of oil discharges
and hazardous substances releases.

Envirofacts Warehouse
   EPA created the Envjrofacts Warehouse to provide the public
with direct access to the wealth of information contained in its
databases. Envirofacts houses RMP and TRI data.

The Hazardous Materials Incident Reporting System
(U.S. Department of Transportation)
   Contact: Sadie Willoiighby, Data Manager Information Systems,
DHM-63, Research and 'Special Programs Administration, U.S.
Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC
20590, (202) 366-4555.

The Incident Reporting Information System (IRIS)
   IRIS is a database maintained by the National Response Center
on all reported oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological
discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and
its territories.

The integrated Management Information System
   U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/index.html).
   Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (http://


Ihe Mora? Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)
   This data system is maintained by the U.S. Fire Administration,
Federal Emergency Management Agency. The NFIRS is the world's
largest national annual database of fire incident information. State
participation in NFIRS is voluntary, but 42 states and the District of
Columbia report NFIRS data. Participating departments report an
average of 1 million fires each year.
 Nonfederal Data Sources
   RTKNET is a nonprofit Web site that houses TRI data, RMP
 executive summaries, and other right-to-know databases.

   The Environmental Defense Fund's Scorecard delivers accurate
 information on the toxic chemicals released by manufacturing
 facilities and the health risks of air pollution. It can rank and
 compare the pollution situation in areas across the United States.
 Scorecard also profiles 6,800 chemicals, making it easy to find out
 where they are used and how hazardous they are.
Adams, John. 1995. Risk: The. Policy Implications of Risk Compen-
     sation and Plural Rationalization. London: University
     College of London Press.
   Chapter 3, Patterns of Uncertainty, describes cultural differences
in beliefs about nature that affect perceptions of risk. Some of these
cultural differences may shape the ways community members view
chemical hazards. The chapter presents four common orientations:
individualists who see nature as robust and able to withstand
assaults by people, egalitarians who view nature as fragile and
precarious, hierarchists who believe nature will be good to them if
properly managed, and fatalists who believe nature is capricious
and unpredictable.


Barnea, Nir. 1997. Exposure Guidelines, CAMEO Today 7, No. 5.
     (July/August 1997), (http://www.crossroads.nsc.org).

Chess, Garon; Saville, Alex; Tamuz, Michael; and Greenberg,
     Michael. 1992. The Organizational Links Between Risk
     Communication and Risk Management: The Case of Sybron
     Chemicals Inc., Risk Analysis, 12, 431-438.

Chiander, Karen R.; Kleindorfer, Paul R.; and Kunreuther, Howard
     C. 1998. Compliance Strategies and Regulatory Effectiveness
     of Performance-Based Regulation  of Chemical Accident Risks.
     Risk Analysis, 18, 135-143.

Cohn, Victor. 1989. News & Numbers: A Guide to Reporting
     Statistical Claims and Controversies in Health and Other
     Fields. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
Evans, Mary. 1998. Dr. ALOHA: Why the  10-Kilometer and 1-Hour
     Limits? CAMEO Today 8, No. 4 (May/June 1998),

Heath, Robert et al. 1995. Knowledge of Emergency Practices in
     Three Communities: A Comparison of Deer Park, LaPorte,
     and Pasadena (Texas). Houston,  Texas: Institute for the
     Study of Issue Management, University of Houston.

Kovac, Daniel; Gibson, Ginger; Chess, Caron; and Hallman, Will-
     iam. 1998. Outreach Materials About Risk Management  Plans:
     Guidance from Pilot Project Research. New Brunswick/
     Piscataway, New Jersey: Cook College, Rutgers The State
     University of New Jersey, (http://aesop.rutgers.edu/~cec/pubs/

Marczewski, Alice; and Kamrin, Micheal. 1987. Toxicology for the
     Citizen. Second Edition East Lansing, Michigan: Center  for
     Environmental Toxicology, Michigan State University

Mary Kay O'Conner Process Safety Center at Texas A & M Universi-
     ty. 1999. Y2K Readiness of Small and Medium Size Enterpris-
     es.  College Station, Texas: Mary Kay O'Conner Process Safety


The Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment
     and Risk Management. 1997. Risk Assessment and Risk
     Management in Regulatory Decision-Making, Final Report,
     Vol. 2. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office
     (www. riskworld.com/Nreports/1997/risk-rpt/volume2/pdf/

Roe, David; Pease, William; Florini, Karen; and Silbergeld, Ellen.
     1997. Toxic Ignorance. New York: Environmental Defense

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. 1999. The
     600k Report: Commercial Chemical Incidents in the United
     States, 1987-1996. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government
     Printing Office.

U.S. Public Interest Research. 1996. Costly Chemical Cover-Up:
     Anti Right-to-Know PAC Contributions. Washington, D.C.:
     U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group. 1998. Too Close To Home: A
     Report on Chemical Accident Risks in the United States.
     Washington, D.C.: U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
     (http:// www.pirg.org/enviro/toxics/home98/)
   Using non-RMP right-to-know data, U.S. PIRG presents a nation-
al overview and ranking of areas in the United States that are
vulnerable to the effects of chemical disasters. The report recom-
mends ways to significantly reduce chemical accidents and toxic
pollution in the United States.

U.S Public Interest Research Group. 1999. Accidents Waiting to
     Happen: Hazardous Chemicals in the U.S. Fifteen Years After
     Bhopal. Washington, D.G.: U.S. Public Interest Research
     Group, (http:// www.uspirg.org/chemical/)
USPIRG's report examines chemical facilities in the United States
     that store chemicals defined by the EPA as "extremely haz-
     ardous substances" due to their high accident hazard.

Vogt, Barbara;  and Sorenson, John. 1999. Description of Survey
     Data Regarding the Chemical Repackaging Plant Accident,
     West Helena, Arkansas. ORNL/TM-13722. Oak Ridge, Tennes-
     see: Oak  Ridge National Laboratory. (http://Emc.ornl.gov).

116   	;	

Regulations/Guidance Documents
OSHA Fact Sheet (OSHA 93-45) summarizing the PSM Standard

PSM Standard (29 GFR 1910.119)
RMP Legislation (40 GFR Part 68) and regulations

RMP Regulatory Guidance and Support information

  The Augusta Chronicle
  Meghan Gourley and others at the Augusta Chronicle wrote
about the two releases of toxic chemicals from one chemical plant
that affected the surrounding comimmity on November 18 and 21,
1998. These stories illustrate community concern over local
hazards, and factors that impact risk. Reporters at the Chronicle
can be reached at (800) 622-6358, Meghan Gourley at extension
3227 and Robert Pavey at extension 119. E-mails for these report-
ers  are Meggit@hotmail.com and Rpavey@augustachronicle.com.
                   •  j    :
  Fehr, Stephen G. 1999. With Toxic Risk, Plans Vary, Some
Localities Are More Ready than Others to Deal with Major Hazard,
Washington Post (October 10, 1999). This article provides a
comprehensive review of chemical hazards in the Washington, DC,
metropolitan area and a discussion of emergency planning.

  Tedeschi,  Bruno. 2000'. The Dangers Next Door, Bergen (NJ)
Record (January 9, 2000). The author uses RMP filings to review
chemicals hazards and risks in Bergen and  Passaic counties, New

   Active mitigation: Equipment, devices, or technologies that
need human, mechanical, or other energy input to capture or
control released substances (e.g., interlocks, shutdown systems,
pressure relieving devices, flares, emergency isolation systems).

   Acute toxicity: The ability of a toxic substance to cause serious
adverse health effects shortly after exposure.

   ANSI: The American National Studies Institute, which is the
organization that coordinates development of national, voluntary
standards for a wide variety of devices and procedures.

   ASTM: The American Society for Testing and Materials, which is
a developer and provider of voluntary standards.

   CAA: The Glean Air Act. Section 112(r) of the Glean Air Act
includes requirements for establishing the RMP Rule and other
related activities.

   CAS Registry Number: A unique identification number assigned
to a chemical by the Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the
American Chemical Society.

   CERCLA: The Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, also known as Superfund,
which established requirements for closed, and abandoned hazard-
ous waste sites and for liability for releases of hazardous waste
sites. CERCLA authorizes EPA to respond to releases of hazardous
substances that may endanger human health or the environment.

   CHBMTREC:  The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center
is a hotline operated by the Chemical Manufacturers Association.
It provides advice on responding to chemical transportation

118 	;	;	

   CSB: The Chemical s| afety and Hazard Investigation Board,
commonly referred to as the Chemical Safety Board or GSB, is an
independent, federal agency whose chief mission is to improve
chemical safety by protecting workers, the public, and the environ-
ment from the dangers of chemical related accidents. It was estab-
lished under section Il2(r)(6) of the Glean Air Act.

   Chronic toxicityi The ability of a toxic substance to cause
adverse health effects from repeated exposure over a relatively
prolonged period of time.

   Distance to endpoint: The estimated distance from a point of
toxic release to the point where it Is no longer considered hazard-
ous to people.

   Dose: The quantity of a chemical to which an individual is
exposed over a given period.

   Environmental receptors: As used in the CAA, a natural area
that could be exposed to a chemical hazard as a result of an acci-
dental release (e.g., national or state parks, forests, or monuments;
wildlife sanctuaries and preserves; wildlife refuges; and federal
wilderness areas).

   Extremely hazardous substance: A substance identified under
EPGRA whose release may be of immediate concern to the commu-
nity because of its irreversible health effects.
   EPCRA: The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-
Know Act of 1986 (Title III of the Superfund and Reauthorization
Act of 1986 or SARA Title III) established chemical emergency
planning and community right-to-know requirements for federal,
state, and local governments and industry.

   ERPG: Emergency Response Planning Guidelines, which were
developed by the American  Industrial Hygiene Association. ERPG
values provide estimates of maximum airborne concentrations of
toxic chemicals that most people could be exposed for up to 1 hour
without developing certain health effects.

   Exposure: Whether and how a human or other organism comes
into contact with a chemical—usually by eating or drinking it,
inhaling it, or touching it and having it penetrate the skin.


   General Duty Clause; The section of the CM that directs
owners and operators of facilities producing, using, handling, or
storing hazardous substances (whether or not they are regulated
under the RMP Rule) to design and maintain a safe facility, to
prevent accidental releases, and to minimize the consequences of
any that occur.

   Hazard: Something that is capable of causing harm. For chemi-
cals, the inherent properties that represent the potential for
personal injury or environmental damage that can result from
exposure. The severity of the hazard often depends on its concen-
tration and exposure.

   IDLH: Immediately dangerous to life or health values are the
maximum airborne concentrations of chemicals to which healthy
adult workers can be exposed for 30 minutes and  escape without
suffering irreversible health effects or symptoms that impair
escape. IDLH values are set by NIOSH.

   LEPC: Local emergency planning committees are groups estab-
lished by EPGRA to coordinate the development of community
chemical emergency plans and coordinate to communicate  the
plans to local stakeholders.

   List Rule: The List of Regulated Substances and Thresholds for
Accidental Release Prevention (40 CFR 68.130) identifies acutely
toxic substances and highly volatile, flammable substances that are
regulated under the RMP Rule.

   LFL: The lower flammability limit is the lowest concentration in
the air at which a substance will ignite.

   MSDS: A Material Safety Data Sheet contains information
related to the particular hazards of a chemical and protective

   NAICS Code: The North American Industry Classification
System is the new standard coding system to categorize businesses
and industries. It replaces the Standard Industrial Classification
(SIC) code system.

   OCA:  The offsite consequence analysis is a determination of the
potential effects of a chemical accident in the area surrounding the
facility property.

120   	'	

  OSHA: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
establishes standards to protect employees from workplace injuries
and illnesses.

  Passive mitigation devices: Equipment, devices, or technolo-
gies that function without human, mechanical, or other energy
input to capture or control released substances (e.g., building
enclosure, dikes, and containment walls).

  Potency: The toxicity of a chemical, that is the ability of a
chemical to do systematic damage to an organism.

  ppm: Parts per million is a unit used to express the concentra-
tion of a substance in air, water, or land. It is  commonly used in
establishing maximum  permissible amounts of contaminants.

  Process: Under the PSM Standard and the RMP Rule, any
industrial activity involving a regulated substance, including any
use, storage, manufacturing, handling, or onsite movement. In-
cludes  any group of vessels that are connected and separate vessels
located where they could also become involved in a release.

  Public receptor: Offsite residences; institutions (e.g., schools,
hospitals); industrial, commercial, and office  buildings; parks; or
recreational areas inhabited or occupied by the public.

  PSM Standard: OSHA's 1992 Process Safety Management of
Highly Hazardous Chemicals Standard (29 CFR 1910.119)  is
intended to prevent or  minimize the employee consequences of a
catastrophic release of  toxic, reactive, flammable, or highly explo-
sive chemicals from a process. It served as a model for the RMP
Rule prevention program requirements.

  Retail facility: A facility at which more than one-half of the
income is obtained from direct sales to end users or at which more
than one-half of the fuel sold, by volume, is sold through a cylinder
exchange program.

  RMP: The risk management plan is a summary of a facility's risk
management program,  as required under the  RMP Rule.

  RMP Rule: The Risk Management Program Rule is a set of
regulations established under Section 112(r) of the Glean Air Act
that provide guidance for the prevention and detection of accidental
releases of regulated hazardous substances and preparation of RMPs.


   RMP*Submit™; Software, available free from EPA, that facilities
can. xise to submit UMPs.

   SARA Title HI: See EPGRA

   SERG: The State Emergency Response Commission, which
under EPCRA, each governor must appoint. The SERGs are respon-
sible for appointing LEPGs, reviewing local emergency plans, and
receiving chemical release notifications.

   Shelter-in-Place: The practice of staying inside homes or other
building to provide temporary protection from chemical releases
rather than evacuating the area. It may include closing and sealing
doors and windows and turning off heating and air conditioning.

   SIC:  Standard Industrial Classification codes were assigned to
categories of U.S. industries and are  referenced in the RMP Rule.
They have been replaced by NAICS codes.

   Stationary source: Any buildings, structures, equipment,
installations, or related stationary activities that produce pollution;
often facilities using industrial combustion processes. A fixed-site

   Threshold limit value: A workplace exposure standard—the
concentration of an airborne substance that a healthy person can
be exposed to for a 40-hour workweek without adverse  effect. The
American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists recom-
mends occupational exposure guidelines.

   Threshold quantity: The quantity of regulated chemicals, in
pounds, specified in EPA's List Rule.  Any facility that has more than
the threshold quantity amount of a listed substance for use in a
single process must file a RMP.

   TRI:  The Toxic Release Inventory is an EPA database of infor-
mation about toxic chemicals used, manufactured, treated, trans-
ported, or released into the environment, based on reports
submitted to EPA under EPGRA


                   Acronym  List
V10 IDLE   One-tenth IDLH
AGGIH    the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
AIHA     the American Industrial Hygiene Association
BLEVE    boiling liquid, expanding vapor explosion
GAA      Glean Air Act
GERGLA   The Comprehensive Environmental Response,
          Compensation, and Liability Act
CSB      Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
DOT      The Department of Transportation
EDF      The Environmental Defense Fund
EPA      The Environmental Protection Agency
EPCRA    Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know
ERPG     emergency response planning guidelines
FEMA     the Federal Emergency Management Agency
GIS       geographic information system
IDLH     immediately dangerous to life and health
IRE       Investigative Reporters and Editors
kw/m2     kilowatts/meter2
LD50      a dose that is lethal to 50% of the animals tested
LEPC     local emergency planning committee
LFL      lower flammability limit
mmHg     millimeters of mercury
MSDS     material safety data sheets
NICAR    the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting
NIOSH    the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
NTSB     the National Transportation Safety Board

                     I                                  '
NRG       National Response Center
OCA       offsite consequences analysis
OSHA     the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
PHA       process hazard analysis
ppm       parts per million
psi        pound per square inch
PSM       Process Safety Management
RMP       risk management plan
SEER      National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology,
           and End Results
SERC      state emergency response commission
TLVs       threshold limit values
TRI       the Toxic Release Inventory
USPIRG    U.S. Public interest Research Group


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