Doing Something About EPA's Do-Nothing Plan

Chem tanks. Credit: raymondclarkeimages

Doing Something About EPA's Do-Nothing Plan

Imagine living near an industrial facility with aboveground storage tanks and not knowing what is in those tanks.  What if hazardous chemicals were stored in those tanks and that leaks or spills could contaminate a lake where you fish or swim, or a river that is also your drinking water source.  Wouldn’t you want to know that water in your community is protected?

Now imagine that even though the Clean Water Act directs the federal government to set up a program to prevent spills and leaks from places that store hazardous chemicals such a program has never been put in place.  Wouldn’t you want to change this, to speak out?

Now is your chance! In 2016, in the wake of a lawsuit challenging the 40-year delay in developing a plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to propose a program.  The Trump administration’s proposal is out now for public comment, and the proposal is to do nothing.

That’s right.  EPA is arguing that existing programs are enough to protect people and our water bodies from chemical tank spills. That’s just not true.  No other program is meant specifically to address leaks and spills of a wide range of hazardous chemicals that threaten water in every state.

The Clean Water Act requires EPA to set up a program for the purpose of preventing leaks and spills of hazardous substances into water bodies.  These kinds of spills into a drinking water source can threaten people’s health, lead to disruption in water service,  and cost water systems and local businesses millions of dollars. Chemical spills can contaminate or kill fish, or make swimming dangerous and threaten wildlife. 

There are so many good reasons to do everything we can to prevent chemical leaks and spills into our water.