Securing US chemical plants

TEXT OF STORY

TESS VIGELAND: The devil's in the details when it comes to drafting legislation on security at the nation's chemical plants. The Senate committee leading that task deleted the most contentious details of a proposal yesterday, and that leaves some questioning, what exactly is left over? From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk Sam Eaton reports.

SAM EATON: One of the casualties of yesterday's negotiations would have required chemical plants to use less hazardous materials if the option was both available and economical.

Rick Hind with Greenpeace says the reasoning behind the amendment was simple.

RICK HIND: If we switch to safer chemicals nothing catastrophic can happen to the community.

The government estimates that tens of thousands of people could be killed if a terrorist attacked a chemical plant in a populated area. Hind says unless Congress addresses the deadly nature of the chemicals used at those plants, that risk isn't going to go away.

The American Chemistry Council says these efforts to mandate safer technologies are part of an environmental agenda, not the debate over security.

The council's members have spent nearly $3 billion on security improvements since 9/11. And while it supports a federal security standard, the Council says decisions about chemistry should be left to the chemists.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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