HAZMAT worker here. Thank you.
Seriously. Thank you all so much for not taking this quietly. Im already seeing issues becoming apparent as the EPA, NIH, USCG, gets neutered and the Chemical Safety Board is forseen to become non existent. Companies are already starting to get lax on compliance due to the perceived inability of the EPA and state regulatory authorities to enforce regulations.
As someone on the front lines of keeping the growing mess as contained as possible and keeping the damage to a absolute minimum if able, thank you so much for kicking and screaming about this.
But, I feel the need to say this: as much as I love the planet, as much as I love the environment, the following is the undeniable fact of the matter.
These regulations and agencies were created and designed to protect human lives, Enviromental friendliness is a PR attractor for the public and coexists with protecting lives and property. It is easier to get someone to care about a turtle then the lives of people. That is the bitter truth.
Most of these regulations are written in blood and pain, or written to avoid the loss of life, and destruction of property. The Pr boost of protecting turtles is a bonus. I can say, without exaggeration that I am certain that given enough time without reinstating effective enforcement and oversight, people will die. They will not die quickly, they will die slowly and painfully. There are things in these factories that can kill people tens of miles down wind
My compliance applications already contain bad, incomplete or outright misleading information, and updates to CHRIS, WISER, and the CRW4 programs are going to be extreamly slow coming with the budget cuts, if they come at all.
I am staring lay offs and pay cuts in the face but ill be damned if I run away from my job. There is too much at stake and way too often human lives and Enviromental protection go hand in hand.
Do not stop kicking and screaming about this. Your life may depend on it. Mine already does.
This is going to absolutely enrage me to type, and for good reason. It will also take me a bit to lay it out as thoroughly as possible to cover exactly how fucked this situation is, and how his actions are directly putting every man, woman, and child in the United States at undue risk.
First, the budget cuts, and how each one affects you before we get into the specifics concerning my line of work:
The EPA is receiving around a 33% budget cut. The EPA is the SOLE enforcement agency of most environmental regulations, aside from a few state specific regulations (which for the most part were put into place with EPA consultation). They work with the DOT and OSHA to develop fair and effective regulations. It used to be that EPA regulations would say one thing, DOT regulations would say another thing, and OSHA regulations would say yet another. For instance, there was a BIG argument over what constituted bulk containers and empty containers and the EPA is working to help standardize the regulations to prevent companies from becoming confused as to which regulation to follow, as they sometimes were contradictory when they shouldn't be. The EPA also oversees the cleanup and management of Superfund sites through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and regulates the disposal of waste through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The make sure our air and water are safe to breathe through the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Clean Air Act. They oversee the operation of ALL drinking water treatment plants* through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Wastewater treatment plants through the CWA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). They give grants to state environmental programs, non-profits, educational institutions, and others. Without EPA federal grant money, a lot of the state environmental agencies wouldn't exist or be effective! They do environmental research as well. What they don't do is anything regarding wildlife. That is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.* The cut will affect every single person in the United States since you have to drink water and breathe air.*
The DOT is receiving around a 15% budget cut. The DOT helps with EPA enforcement by reporting non-EPA compliant waste transport, as well as enforcing their own transport regulations at those weigh and inspection stations you pass on the highway. They also work with OSHA and the EPA and international agencies to standardize waste labeling and response measures.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is receiving around a 20% budget cut. They are a HUGE source of manpower during natural disasters and chemical spills, as well as a critical consultant.
The National Institutes of Health is receiving around a 20% cut. They oversee and direct medical research which often times includes classifying the short term and long term hazards of chemicals and pollutants as well as effective treatment and care options in case of contact with hazardous materials. This includes figuring out if that newfangled chemical is going to kill you 5 years down the line with cancer or kill your baby or make you sterile.
Now onto the programs, STILL haven't gotten to specifics and we are already in deep shit!
Elimination of the John E. Fogarty International Center. This is THE medical research center under the NIH.
Eliminates the USDA Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, a reduction of $498 million. This is often the only way for rural communities to have access to safe potable water.
Cuts to FEMA state and local grant funding by $667 million, including the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program and Homeland Security Grant Program Often, towns foresee disasters happening and ask for money so the disaster will have less of an impact. Often these are small towns asking for this money, not cities.
Elimination of Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) http://arc.gov its goal is to strengthen economic growth in 420 counties across the 13 Appalachian states. 25 million residents in Appalachia have directly benefited from the ARC.
Elimination of the Chemical Safety Board They are the investigation agency for all chemical incidents. Think NTSB of HAZMAT. They advise OSHA and the EPA on root causes of incidents and suggested mitigation actions.
Elimination of the Delta Regional Authority http://dra.gov its goal is to strengthen economic growth in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state Delta region.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Chesapeake Bay funding, and other regional programs under EPA.
More information can be found here
The NIH has this program called WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders). WISER is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. It is provided for free via a mobile app, and a Desktop version to ensure our first responders and hospitals have access to the best information possible regardless of size or funding. It is an absolutely CRITICAL program for the safety of Law enforcement, Firefighters, EMTs, as well as HAZMAT professionals such as myself. It covers a growing library of chemical, biological, and nuclear material. This is where they get evacuation and standoff distances from. This is how a small clinic in rural Kentucky, faced with victims of phosgene poisoning can respond rapidly, safely and effectivly. This is how i know what to wear so i dont die. This is how firefighters know toxic combustion hazards at a factory fire. This is how responders know to risk their lives to keep that otherwise innocent looking drum leak from contacting that other innocent looking drum leak. This is how responders to a truck accident on the highway know what the hell they are dealing with when the driver is dead, and the manifest destroyed. This is by far IMHO one of the biggest contributions to public safety that the NIH has done. It is constantly updated as time goes on in it's goal to become the "one stop shop" for First Responders, Doctors and HAZMAT personnel.
Before WISER, we had to cross reference between the following programs and books.
DOT Emergency Response Guidebook
U.S. Coast Guard, CHRIS Manual – Chemical Hazards Response Information System
NFPA Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
POISINDEX(R) Information System, Micromedex, Inc., CCIS
TOMES(R) Information System, Micromedex, Inc., CCIS
ACGIH Guidelines for Selection of Chemical Protective Clothing
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists TLVs & BEIs
Association of American Railroads, Emergency Handling of Hazardous Materials in Surface Transportation
NOAA Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (CRW)
And Trump just fucked us. Our information is now wrong and contradictory, and will likely not be corrected until funding is restored.
Bleach and Ammonia. Wrong and vague
Bleach and Acetic acid in an Aluminum container. Wrong (where would the nitrogen EVEN COME FROM?)
Checking the CRW for the Ammonia + Bleach reaction is showing a complete lack of mentioning the Chloramine produced, and the Bleach + Acetic acid in the CRW doesn't make any mention of Chlorinated Amines but correctly states that chlorine is produced.
This program was short-handed to begin with, and is incomplete to begin with, but it's not going to get fixed on a cut budget.
And errors in the guide mean people die. If this BASIC information is WRONG, it is not just a simple oopsie. People die. And they die slowly and painfully
A canister that will work for one gas, won't work for another. A suit that is impervious to one chemical will dissolve in another. THE EVACUATION DISTANCES CAN DIFFER BY TENS OF MILES.
This is quite literally, life and death. First responders IN. YOUR. TOWN. Will have increasingly outdated information that I can 100% guarantee WILL RESULT IN DEATHS
The longer these agencies go without funding being restored, the blinder the very people charged with saving your god damn life are going to be. We are quickly going back to the days where first responders died in droves not knowing what the hell they were getting into. A Bhopal Disaster can VERY easily happen now given the growing incompleteness and vagueness of the information our first responders and emergency personnel lives depend on. The sooner we get it contained properly, the fewer people die. The sooner we get it identified, the quicker we can evacuate the proper areas, the fewer people die. And right now we are being blinded by GOP greed.
What is happening is criminal. What is happening is 100% unacceptable, and I BEG of you and everyone else reading this.
DO. NOT. STOP. FIGHTING.
Because regardless of what information is at our fingertips, we go in because we know damn well that there are things that can wipe out entire towns in these factories. Even if we don't know what the fuck it is.
But dead First Responders and HAZMAT crews can't protect people.
DO. NOT. STOP. FIGHTING.
We need you right now.
Body count so far during the Trump administration that could have been prevented:
People who are being shat on by the GOPs failure to learn from past mistakes:
Some videos that are slammed into my skull. They are all real stories.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C561PCq5E1g T2 Disaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzdnUZReoLM Little general disaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYN9WivpQ6M Danvers Disaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2ItJe2Incs Valero Delaware Disaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QKpVnTqngc Valero McKee Refinery Disaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxuPMRTuvbU Apex (my instructor knew a guy from here)
And lastly, What we enjoyed as a result of these programs getting implemented. Expect a growing surge of disasters the longer this goes on.