Sunday, June 21, 2009

1 Dead After Freight Train Derails Northwest of Chicago

(click on the above Headline for story link)
1 Dead After Freight Train Derails Northwest of Chicago - ...
Jun 20, 2009 ... 1 Dead After Freight Train Derails Northwest of Chicago, A Tank car loaded with thousands of gallons of highly flammable ethanol exploded.

In 2006 when I ran for Congress, (before the increase in gasoline prices) my statement regarding fuel was that we must find other fuel alternatives to preserve our future. Natural gas reserves are about equal or slightly less than oil reserves. Oil production peaked in the 1970’s and has been declining since.

Thirty-five years ago, the United States produced 9.4 million bpd of crude; today, it produces only about 4.7 million, importing over 55% today. World reserves are declining also, as supplies diminish, prices will continue to rise.

I had said, "We can no longer afford to ignore the issue, this will dramatically influence the economy in the US and abroad, we are heading for a major and financial crisis if we do not act responsibly now. Oil production will remain the same but due to population growth, demand will outpace the production. This will cause prices to skyrocket and oil-dependant economies to deteriorate."

"Here it is 2007 and nothing has changed other than the price of fuel costs increasing. In my congressional debates I had said although I am for the environment, at some point we must start looking into domestic drilling if we are not to become dependent of foreign oil entities. My opponent a “rocket scientist” said that he was against drilling but offered no viable alternative, nor an immediate solution. My suggestion was that we continue to look for alternative renewable sources, but until we find that alternative, drilling would give us the time to pursue alternative research. I don’t believe ethanol is the answer."

I wrote an article on Homeland Security and Chemical Plants. I mentioned the volatility of Ethanol. I had said at that time ethanol can not be piped and must be transported by truck or rail. How many of these rail cars or trucks are going through our communities? How it effects the safety of our citizens. At the time I wrote my article the chemical industry was self regulated and they are heavy lobbyists and government did not enforce regulation.

The media was so enamored with my opponents views, my opinions and articles were overlooked or ignored.

Picture a scenario of a town with 30,000 residents. An EMT response team with a crew of 10, and three ambulances. In the event of a chemical leak, large scale gas leak, how many hazmat suits are available, with thousands trying to flee, how do we save everyone?

For Immediate Release:


There are approximately 140 Chemical Plants in New Jersey and 15,000 throughout the United States. All with chemicals available for terrorists to use against us as weapons of mass destruction.

A breach in a chemical plant in Chicago would affect 3 million people, another in California has the potential to kill, wound and displace 8,000,000 people.

These statistics are from the Environmental Protection Agency based on chemicals stored in those plants.

We have a plant in Spotswood that stores chlorine, where 1.1 million lives are potentially endangered within 14 miles, and is less than one mile from five schools. About 1 ¼ miles away there is a school in East Brunswick.

A single chlorine tank can lead to 17,500 deaths, 10,000 severe injuries, and 100,000 hospitalizations.

For towns near chemical plants, evacuation is not the solution. Evacuations are for floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes and work well for advance warning systems. In the event of a chemical attack, there would be no advance warning, and evacuation will not work. Prevention, containment, and remediation should be the priorities.

To illustrate the damage that can happen, I will describe in short detail of what happened in Bhopal India. It was in 1984 that Union Carbide India accidentally released 40 tons of methyl isocyanate into the air, killing 7,000 immediately. In trying to escape the gas, the transportation system in the city collapsed and many people were trampled in their attempt to distance themselves from the danger. The escaped gases injured anywhere from 150,000 to 600,000 people, 15,000 of whom died later. None of the six safety systems designed for containment were operational, and during the night while people were sleeping, they were awakened with burning eyes, noses, and throats. Coughing up blood while trying to run away and losing control of their bladders and bowels. Within hours, thousands lay dead in the street.

The Bhopal incident should have been a warning of the potential havoc that is caused without the proper checks and balances.

In 2004 a chlorine leak in south western China forced the evacuation of 150,000 people and left nine dead, and the previous December forced the evacuation of 60,000 people.

On January 6, 2005 in Graniteville South Carolina, chlorine leaking from a derailed tank car caused the evacuation of 5,000 people, killing nine people and injuring hundreds.

As recently as August 25 of 2006, 23 people in Dover Delaware were sent to the hospital, due to a styrene leak from a defective valve on a tanker rail car at a Dow site.

Police are not equipped with the proper resources to respond to a chemical emergency, nor are there sufficient emergency personnel to save any reasonable amount of lives as described in the Bhopal incident. Our first responders need training and equipment if they are to be able to do their jobs effectively. Hospitals, fireman, police, rescue squads need to be prepared for a large scale chemical attack or chemical release. Funding to provide doctors and nurses the proper course of action and facilities as to where citizens will go for treatment. I suggest appointing a State Homeland Hospital Medical Director who will oversee all medical facilities, coordinate and train personnel to handle a large scale crisis.

In just our local communities, we have chemicals such as vinyl acetate in Dayton, titanium tetrachloride in Edison, 360,000 lbs. of chlorine at a plant in Spotswood, vinyl acetate monomer in Somerset, and methyl chloride in Old Bridge. The Middlesex County Utilities Authority in Sayreville has 720,000 lbs. of chlorine on site as registered with the EPA.

I propose that all chemical plants, pesticide manufacturers, paint manufacturers, and refineries are required to do a thorough background check on employees, mandatory drug screening. Outside contracted employees must have clearances before working on or entering any chemical site, all outside vendor vehicles searched before entering a plant. All necessary agencies are to receive notification in regards to the transportation of chemicals to and from plants. There are many plants with aging systems waiting for an accident. Twice a year the containment and security of those chemicals need to be subject to required inspections, including the transportation means that are used. Standardization and guidelines need immediate legislation for the monitoring of spills, leaks, breach of security, means of transportation, safety of equipment, and the routes used. Required inspections of vessels used to hold the chemical, the safety of the railways, the valves and shutoffs used to control and contain these chemicals. Regulation of trucks and truck routes need to be looked at in the transportation of Ethanol, which is highly volatile product.

All schools must be required to submit a contingency plan for procedures, made available to the public in the event of a chemical emergency, whether it is a lockdown or evacuation.

It has been at least four years since a Senate panel unanimously passed a bill to create security standards for the nation’s chemical plants; Congress has yet to agree on mandatory safeguards.

When officials tell us, we have it under control, we must ask how. What plan of action do they have to protect the citizen’s and children of those in proximity to those plants? Getting in your car and driving across the highway is not the answer.

It is imperative that we apply for The Department of Homeland Security Funding Formula, so we have the necessary equipment and training. Funding that is based on risk, not on the parties controlling local government.

National Security funds were distributed on a partisan basis, funds not based on risk! When funds are distributed based on party affiliation over lives in our communities, we need to question the rationale behind those disbursements.

Funds are wasted when they are used for Gyms, Bowflex equipment, TV sets, monies wasted on frivolity when accountability isn’t required on how the money was spent.

For the year 2006 the applicants on the list of eligibility are Elizabeth, Jersey City and Newark with a 10 mile buffer around the area. The 12th District did not make that list.

When our assembly has time to legislate that our state dirt will be Downer soil, over the protection of lives, we have a definite problem.

There seems to be a nonchalant attitude regarding chemical plants, and we are fooling ourselves if we are lulled into thinking this could never happen in our society or our local communities. We are living in different times, the world is changing, and we must stop acting as if it will not happen here.

We as a country, scour the world looking for weapons of mass destruction. We are inviting trouble when we allow biological and chemical weapons right in our own backyard, and then ask our government not to place controls over the chemical plants that use them. There are too many lives at risk to ignore the makings of a disaster in our communities; it is only a matter of time. We should not need to wait until a catastrophe happens in our communities. Action is needed now.

We have provided the bomb; all that’s needed is a fuse.

Joseph Sinagra
18th District Assembly Candidate

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