WASHINGTON, May 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) issued formal recommendations to EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, urging the agency to address two issues vital to environmental justice communities and public health. One NEJAC recommendation letter urges Wheeler's EPA to abandon efforts to roll-back recently adopted measures to prevent chemical disasters. The second NEJAC letter calls on Wheeler's EPA to act aggressively to address toxic ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions, recently understood to cause high cancer-risk in communities across the nation, and not undercut the best independent science on the issue. Grassroots organizations and people who live in impacted environmental justice communities praised NEJAC's recommendations to the EPA.
"We've exhausted the time to wait because too many of our community members are sick or dying," said Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA). "For too long, our families and our communities have been exposed to numerous overlapping and cumulative environmental hazards, and EPA should pay attention to the advice of its environmental justice council and implement these recommendations immediately."
"It's great to see these letters that the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council is sending to EPA," said Emma Cheuse, staff attorney with Earthjustice. "NEJAC is calling on EPA to do its job, to protect public health from toxic air pollution and chemical disasters, because these threats are unacceptable and they fall disproportionately on communities of color and low-income people."
The Trump Administration's EPA is attempting to roll-back rule updates that will improve chemical disaster prevention measures at over 12,500 high-risk industrial and commercial facilities regulated under the Risk Management Plan (RMP) program. Over 124 million Americans (39%) live within three miles of an RMP facility (map and report), putting them in constant threat of catastrophic explosion or poison gas release. 24 million children attending 125,000 schools (45%) and 11,000 medical facilities (39%) are vulnerable to chemical disasters originating from these facilities. People of color and the poor face disproportionate risk.
SOURCE Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform