A legacy of industrial pollution has left environmental and health wounds in communities across Pennsylvania. The polluting operations that remain are a continued threat, highlighted by recent explosions at Clairton Coke Works outside Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in Philadelphia that caused major fires and damaged controls. These situations illustrate the urgent need to correct flaws in how we hold companies accountable and communicate with residents about air impacts that threaten their health.
HB 1752 is a good response to that need. The bill would significantly increase fines that have not been changed for decades, so that billion-dollar polluting operations no longer see them as a “drop in the bucket” but a deterrent toward further pollution and encouragement to investment in cleaning up industrial operations. The legislation also requires industry to develop and maintain a municipal notification plan designed to give notice to the immediate and surrounding communities in the event of an accident causing air pollution.
Specifically, the plan would require notification as soon as possible and within 12 hours of the breakdown or accident, unless the risk is eliminated before notice is required. It would also establish the most expeditious way to deliver notice of the risk to the affected municipalities; communicate measures for community members to undertake in order to mitigate the risks of the air pollution release; and require yearly updates to the plan to ensure that municipal contact procedures are up to date.
Take Action! Urge your legistors to co-sponsor and support passage of HB 1752.