Scope of Hazards of Chemical Emergency Response Chemical spills are a daily occurrence in America and even in the 21st century all too many workers are still not effectively trained to understand the risks of accidental spills and leaks. The 2005 ATSDR report on Hazardous Substance Emergency Events (Appendix Q) based on data from 15 state Health Departments of releases documents that there were 8,603 events in 2005, more than 20 per day, 6,386 were at fixed facilities. There were 2,034 victims (85% at fixed facilities) and 45% of the victims were employees or responders, an indication on the need to adequately train workers at facilities with potential releases. 50% of these incidents were reported to be due to equipment failure. The 2001 ATSDR report had similar statistics and also reported that 42% were releases to the air, an indication of the need for Center staff and trainers to better understand the dynamics of plume releases and dynamics. Another 40% of incidents were from spills, demonstrating the need to train workers to safely and efficientty respond to these events, alert the proper authorities, limit the spill release and properly dispose of waste. The frequency of building evacuations (655 in 2005) underscores the need for safe evacuation and workplace shelter in place procedures. The 2005 article by staff of the Chemical Safety Board on the Bhopal disaster, identifies one of the systemic problems as "ineffective worker training'which remain "underlying causes of many incidents" (3;Appendix C). ATSDR data has been previously documented by the 1999 600K report by the US Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board (4). Similar conclusions were reached by a 1998 US Public Interest Research Group and National Environmental Law Center report (5). Although there are limitations in their data collection, they add information on the danger of chemical releases to communities and the "vulnerable zone" in a worst case scenario. They conclude that 41 million Americans live within three miles of facilities with the potential for serious injury or death, a daunting figure that reinforces the need to prevent serious releases of hazardous materials, and protect workers and the public when they do.
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