Chemical fires, explosions, and rogue pollution releases are all too common in the Houston area. Without a central toxic chemical emergency alert system in place, communities are left in the dark regarding actions to take in an emergency.
A Houston Chronicle investigation showed there’s a major chemical incident in the greater Houston area on average every six weeks. Without accurate and timely information about these events, it can be impossible for residents to know whether it’s safe to stay outside when an incident happens or if one should “shelter in place” or even evacuate.
Currently, decisions about alerting the public are taken by a patchwork of local agencies, which may release conflicting information or fail to notify the public at all. The recent chemical incidents have highlighted the need for a central system that would notify the public in emergencies, such that already exists for severe weather or missing children.
What we’re doing
We are advocating for the implementation of a toxic chemical alert system that would rapidly notify communities about threats to their health and safety during chemical disasters. Such a system was first proposed to lawmakers in 2017, however, the billwas unsuccessful.