Report finds 63 million Americans endangered by chlorine bleach plants

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

4.5 Million at risk from three Illinois plants

Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Eighty-six chlorine bleach facilities needlessly use huge quantities of chlorine gas in its manufacturing process and endanger more than 63 million people living in nearby areas, according to a new report released today by Greenpeace. The report highlights three Illinois facilities needlessly endangering over 4.5 million people.

“In spite of the evident risks and availability of safer alternatives, our latest report on the industry shows that some chlorine bleach manufacturers continue to use chlorine gas, putting almost one in every five Americans in danger of a potential release from a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon in the past” said Rick Hind, Legislative Director at Greenpeace.

The Willow Springs Terminal facility, in Willow Springs IL, uses bulk storage of chlorine gas, and has a vulnerability zone of 14 miles, placing 2 million people at risk. Multiple safer alternatives are available. For example, between 2009-2012, Clorox phased out the storage and use of 90-ton rail cars of chlorine gas from seven facilities around the country, eliminating dangers to 13.6 million people in vulnerability zones, including Chicago.

“When he served in the US Senate, President Obama called for the transition to safer alternatives,” said Abe Scarr, Director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “Now is the time for the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority require facilities to consider safer alternatives, and transition to them when feasible.”

The hazard goes beyond the use of the chlorine gas in the manufacturing process, as chlorine bleach manufacturers frequently ship and receive their supply in 90-ton rail cars vulnerable to accidents and acts of sabotage.

“Every day, rail cars crisscross the country delivering hundreds of tons of chlorine gas and endangering the communities through which they travel. Just one of such rail car can put much of an entire city in danger” concluded Hind.

To read the full “Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger Millions” report, including recommendations to reduce the storage, transport, and use of chlorine gas click here.