EPA, DOJ Issue Rules on Chemical Accident Information

Regulations have changed regarding public access to and distribution of\r\ninformation about potential chemical accidents from industrial\r\nfacilities.

EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have issued regulations governing public access to and distribution of information about potential chemical accidents from industrial facilities.

This information must be collected from industries under the Clean Air Act amendments passed by Congress in 1990.

The 1999 Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act further required the federal government to assess two considerations: the benefits of disseminating this information to the public to help reduce chemical accidents and concerns about terrorist and criminal activity that might result from posting this information on the Internet.

Based on these assessments, EPA and DOJ, in consultation with national security agencies, issued a final rule that will allow public access to localized information from organizations like local emergency planning committees.

EPA said the rule allows the public to receive some information from the Internet, such as, for example, if one lives in a neighborhood that could be affected by a chemical release.

However, no specific information on chemical locations will be posted on the Internet in order to ensure security from terrorists and criminals.

For more information, visit EPA''s Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office Web site at: www.epa.gov.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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