One in three Americans is at risk of a poison gas disaster by living near one of hundreds of chemical facilities that store and use highly toxic chemicals. A chemical disaster at just one of these facilities could kill or injure thousands of people with acute poisoning.
Of the 12,440 chemical facilities that report their chemical disaster scenarios to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Greenpeace has identified 473 chemical facilities across the U.S. that each put 100,000 people or more at risk. Of those, 89 put one million or more people at risk up to 25 miles downwind from a plant.
The red circle around each chemical plant marks the “vulnerability zone”. The size of this zone varies for each facility and ranges from less than a mile to 25 miles. Each zone was determined by the plant owner based on the type and quantity of the toxic chemical on site, local topography and weather patterns. Anyone within this zone could potentially be impacted by a toxic chemical release. Impacts could range from minor injury to fatality depending on the chemical involved and the extent of exposure. The EPA requires chemical companies to determine these zones and report them once every five years in the facility’s risk management plan. Find out more about EPA’s Risk Management Program.