Letter to the Editor

Chemical security needs tightening

To the editor:

The June 16 Associated Press article in the Southeast Missourian, "Chemical plant regulation being questioned," highlights an issue of extreme importance to millions of Americans: the safety and security of the 15,000 dangerous chemical plants in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Bush administration have taken the necessary first step of recognizing the need for mandatory regulation of security at high-risk chemical facilities. In order to really reduce the threat of terrorism, companies must begin to use safer chemicals where possible. Not only will this mitigate potentially harmful effects of an accident at one of these facilities, but using safer chemicals will remove the appeal of these facilities as terrorist targets.

An extremely powerful chemical industry lobby has effectively stalled legislation until now. Despite nearly four years of failed attempts since 9-11, now is the time for Congress to pass effective chemical security legislation.

MARGARET HERMAN, Missouri Public Interest Research Group, Washington, D.C.