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UnNightly News: 16 Million Americans at Risk for Toxic Acid Exposure

February 25, 2011

16 Million Americans at Risk for Toxic Acid Exposure. This is unacceptable.

The Center for Public Integrity reports:

Excerpt:

At least 16 million Americans, many of them unaware of the threat, live in the potential path of HF if it were to be released in an accident or a terrorist attack, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News has found. The government maintains closely controlled reports outlining worst-case scenarios involving highly hazardous chemicals. The Center reviewed reports for the 50 refineries that use HF. The reports describe the most extreme accidents anticipated by the plants’ owners. The information is not published and is not easily accessible by the public.

A recent spate of refinery equipment breakdowns, fires and safety violations has heightened concerns. Over the past five years, authorities have cited 32 of the 50 refineries using HF for willful, serious or repeat violations of rules designed to prevent fires, explosions and chemical releases, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration data analyzed by the Center. These “process safety management” standards require companies to conduct inspections, analyze hazards and plan for emergencies.

In all, at those 32 refineries inspectors found more than 1,000 violations, including nearly 600 at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, where 15 workers were killed and 180 injured in a 2005 explosion. Although only some of the violations involved HF, they can be an indicator of operational weaknesses, particularly worrisome at refineries using the chemical, industry and government insiders say. Even a fire causing little damage can foreshadow a more serious event, the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade association, notes in a 2010 guidance document for its member companies.

View the interactive map and read the entire article, click here

Related: ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/hydrofluoric-acid-risk-oil-refineries/story?id=12985686

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