Los Angeles a Hot Zone for Chemical Risks

Media Contacts
Austin Price

Community Leaders Push Obama on Executive Order


Los Angeles, CA – Community leaders pushed the Obama administration to take bold strides to reduce the danger posed to communities by high-risk chemical facilities surrounding Los Angeles during a public listening session at UCLA.  The listening session is part of an Executive Order from President Obama issued in response to accidents like the tragedy in West, TX tragedy that killed 14 people and razed nearby schools and homes, and the 2012 explosion at the Richmond, CA Chevron refinery that sent 15,000 people to the hospital.

“With millions of Californians at risk, the Obama Administration shouldn’t wait for another toxic accident before requiring safer standards,” said Austin Price, Field Director with CALPIRG.  “We have tried and proven solutions that can reduce the massive risk to our communities, we just need to use them.“

“If incidents like the Richmond or West Texas explosion, or the train derailment in North Dakota were to happen in Los Angeles, the results could be catastrophic. With over one dozen facilities in south east Los Angeles, over one million people are in harms way from these chemical facilities,” explained Martha Dina Arguello, executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA). “People don’t have any idea that the government is failing to protect us from the dangers posed by huge amounts of dangerous toxic chemicals that surround us. People of color are disproportionately impacted because the storage facilities and train tracks tend to be built in and around communities of color.”

There are over 57 high-risk facilities in California that each put at least 100,000 residents within Environmental Protection Agency designated “vulnerability zones” for toxic exposure in the case of an accident or terrorist attack.  One facility alone, the KIK SoCal Inc. in Santa Fe Springs just 14 miles from downtown Los Angeles, puts 4.9 million people at risk of exposure to chlorine gas.

“Residents in Wilmington and Southeast Los Angeles who live on the fence line of refineries, metal shredders, and chemical plants—and often within a few blocks of several such facilities—experience every day the harmful effects of pollution from industry operations, flaring, equipment breakdowns, and other hazards,” said Maya Golden-Kraser, Staff Attorney with Communities for a Better Environment.  “People in these communities want regulations that focus on preventing harmful pollution and catastrophic incidents rather than accepting them as the normal cost of doing business.”

“Industry already knows how to prevent potentially catastrophic events by evaluating and adopting feasible, inherently safer production processes, and regulators already have the authority to require them to do so.  The Executive Order provides a timely opportunity to make prevention a meaningful part of federal chemical safety and security policies,” said Timothy Malloy, Professor at UCLA Law School and Faculty Director of the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program.

Read more on chemical safety in California online at: http://calpirg.org/issues/cap/safer-chemicals-safer-california

Contact Info:  Austin Price, [email protected], 740.525.2740.



CALPIRG, the CALIFORNIA Public Interest Research Group, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest advocacy organization that takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and well-being.