FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 10/22/2014
CONTACT: Maya Nye, Executive Director
Roadmap for Chemical Release Prevention Program Gets Off The Ground
Charleston, WV – Almost four years after initial recommendations were made by the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), a Chemical Release Prevention Program for the Kanawha Valley is in sight.
“The final push to get the program off the ground was knowing that the January 9th Elk River Chemical Spill could have been prevented if this program was in place,” said Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety (PCACS), a local non-profit organization dedicated to preventing chemical disasters.
Kanawha Valley has been home of a number of chemical incidents over the years. The 2008 explosion at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute was what sparked the initial CSB recommendation, but is only one in a series of local chemicals disasters. At least four workers have lost their lives in the valley and at least six across the state from chemical incidents since 2008.
“One worker fatality is one too many. Plus,” she adds, “we owe it to our kids and most vulnerable.”
Recent data from the Center for Effective Government indicates that one in three US children go to school everyday near facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals within areas described as “vulnerable.” In West Virginia alone, 33% of our schoolchildren at risk of a experiencing a chemical disaster with schools in Kanawha Valley among the top at-risk. Demographics in another report using the same data indicate that the people who are disproportionately burdened by chemical disasters are low-income communities and communities of color.  Nye says that, “this data doesn’t even include possible threats from facilities like Freedom Industries.”
“The January 9th Elk River Chemical Spill reinforced the importance of coming together to identify solutions that prevent chemical disasters, a goal that is essential for our common future.”
Between now and June 2015, the Roadmap Planning Team will meet monthly to outline what a Chemical Release Prevention Program should look like for the Kanawha Valley. The team will identify national best practices and garner public input among stakeholder groups in the development of an implementation roadmap.
Representatives ranging from public health, emergency response, occupational safety, labor, industry, impacted citizen and innovation have all been invited to participate. “Since the recommendation was originally made as a result of the 2008 Bayer CropScience incident and reiterated after the 2010 DuPont incident, we reached out to them to lead industry interest in the process. We’re still waiting on a few RSVPs, and optimistic that we will have a broad representation of interest at the table which is exciting,” says Nye. “We all have a common interest in preventing chemical disasters in our valley.”
The first meeting of PCACS’ Chemical Release Prevention Roadmap Planning Team will be held on Friday, October 24th from 10:00am to noon and is open to the public. The meeting will be held at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department on Lee Street in Charleston in the 1st floor conference room. Public comment will be taken at the end of the meeting, though many opportunities to provide input will exist between now and June. For more information, contact People Concerned About Chemical Safety’s Executive Director, Maya Nye, at 304-389-6859 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
 http://www.csb.gov/; “Nitro chemical plant cited over worker’s death.” Available at http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201212270047; “Second worker dies from Antero gas well blast.” Available at http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201307290008.
 “Who’s in Danger? Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters.” Available at http://comingcleaninc.org/whats-new/whos-in-danger-report