Blunt Rochester Introduces Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats Act of 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) introduced H.R. 6527, the Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats Act, or ALERT Act, of 2020. The bill amends the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right To-Know Act of 1986, requiring facilities that have accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances to hold public meetings to inform the public about the release and any subsequent mitigation plan.
“The best way to protect our communities is to prevent hazardous chemical disasters in the first place, and that should be our top priority. That means increasing our ability to monitor air pollution at the fence line so that we can have real-time, accurate data about the air quality in our communities. But, we know that these accidents will still take place, and when they do, communities have the right to know. That's why we must have a robust response and notification process that involves the local community in the development of any emergency response plan and ensures that the fence line community is the first to know about a leak or emergency in their neighborhood,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “All too often, communities are the last to know about an emergency. This is unacceptable. That's why I'm proud to introduce the ALERT Act, which will require industries producing hazardous and toxic chemicals to engage directly with the community where they are located to ensure residents have real-time knowledge of any toxic release and ensure that communities are engaged in the subsequent remediation plan. Every person deserves to breathe clean air and live in a safe community. While we still have a long way to go to prevent hazardous chemical disasters, the ALERT Act will fill an important gap in the current notification process.”
The Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats (ALERT) Act of 2019 will:
· Require a facility that has a release of an extremely hazardous substance to hold a public meeting within 72 hours of the release.
o The facility must publish a notice in a local newspaper at least 24 hours in advance of the public meeting, including the date, time, and location.
· Require a facility that processes extremely hazardous substances to hold an annual public meeting.
o During that public meeting, the facility will provide the public with:
· The name of any extremely hazardous substance that exceeds the previously pre-determined threshold present at the facility in the last calendar year;
· An estimate of the maximum amount of each extremely hazardous substance that was present at the facility last calendar year; and
· Details on the procedure to be followed in response to a release of an extremely hazardous chemical.
o The facility must publish a notice in a local newspaper at least 7 days in advance of the public meeting, including the date, time and location of the public meeting.
The full text of the bill can be found here.