Hazardous Chemical List Not Available to Public in Texas
For the past 30 years, federal law has required chemical makers and handlers to disclose what’s stored on premises. It’s called the Community Right To Know Act, and it has been at the core of the safety conversation since last year’s deadly fertilizer explosion in West, Texas.
But KVUE’s affiliate station WFAA has learned that in the past few weeks, state health officials have stopped making those hazardous chemical records public.
On May 29, emergency responders in Athens, Texas, were faced with a potential disaster. An old storage building filled with explosive ammonium nitrate near the center of town was on fire. According to the Community Right To Know Act, the chemical contents of that building had to be publicly disclosed through what’s called a Tier II report.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “states and communities [...] can use the Tier II information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.” In Texas, Tier II reports are kept on file at the Department of State Health Services and according to its web site, those reports are public information. All citizens “may ask for” them by simply filling out a request.
Yet, just days ago, following the ammonium nitrate building fire in Athens, when WFAA asked the Department of State Health Services for an updated Tier II report on the facility, department spokesperson Carrie Williams told said, “We’re not able to release the kind of information you’re requesting.”