Schoolchildren all around the country have been attending classes every day inside buildings that are located in “vulnerability zones.” These “vulnerability zones” are areas that are defined by companies that make or store toxic chemicals. One in three students in the United States attends school in the “vulnerability zone” of a hazardous chemicals facility according the Center for Effective Government (CEG).
Schools located near hazardous chemical facilities could be in great danger if the company ever suffered an explosion, leak, or accident similar to the explosion that happened in West Texas last April. An explosion occurred at a fertilizer company shattering windows seven miles away, damaging or destroying 150 buildings including three schools. West Middle School sat right next to the company. The blast killed fifteen people and injured 160 others.
Are Your Children At Risk From Hazardous Chemicals?
According to the CEG, 19.6 million children in 48 states go to school inside at least one of the vulnerability zones that were tracked by the CEG. Additionally, half of these children are located in more than one chemical vulnerability zone. San Jacinto Elementary School is Deer Park, Texas, is located in the vulnerability zones of 41 different chemical facilities. The proximity of a facility, the quantity of chemicals being handled, and how dangerous the hazardous chemicals are have to do with the level of risk associated with a certain chemicals facility.
For example, according to the CEG, The Kuehne Chemical Company in South Kearny, New Jersey has a 14- mile vulnerability zone. Situated in it are 1,887 schools and over 860,000 students. The facility’s vulnerability zone covers nearly all of Manhattan as well as all of Jersey City and Newark. It is reported that this company holds about two million pounds of chlorine gas for use in manufacturing bleach.
Contact with this chemical can produce the same effects as it did when it was used in WWI such as:
- Burning of the skin and eyes
- Respiratory damage
What Can Be Done To Ensure Children’s Safety From Hazardous Chemicals?
The CEG suggests that the most effective way to protect the children from chemical disasters is to require companies to use safer chemical alternatives when they are available. Facilities can also shrink their vulnerability zones by reducing the amount of toxins produced or stored onsite. Allowing new facilities with dangerous chemicals to be sited near major population centers should be banned. Lastly, educating people in your school district , community, and state about chemical disasters can help.