In Europe, toxic chemical manufacturers have to prove that they are safe before they are used. In the United Stated, the government has to prove they are unsafe to prevent their sale and use. The result is that hundreds of people are killed each year by chemical explosions and other accidents.
“This is a decades-old problem that needs to be remedied,” said attorney Fred Pritzker, who recently won $45 million for clients injured by a defective product. ” The Toxic Substances Control Act was passed by Congress in 1976. The law is 38 years old and has no teeth.”
Pritzker is calling on Congress to put safety first and make significant changes to the law.
“Specific safeguards need to be in place to prevent injuries and wrongful death. Manufacturers of toxic chemicals should be required to show they can be safely used and provide companies with detailed instructions on how to safely use them.”
The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The CSB has no enforcement powers (does not issue fines or citations). It was created by Congress “to be non-regulatory and independent of other agencies so that its investigations might, where appropriate, review the effectiveness of regulations and regulatory enforcement” (CBS website). It is supposed to use information gathered from chemical accidents “to make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry organizations, and labor groups.” But these recommendations can be (and usually are) ignored.
“At this time, the only people acting to prevent these accidents are the accident victims and families who file personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for compensation,” said Pritzker. “I would prefer that these kinds of accidents never happen, and it is possible if Congress is willing to do what is right.”
We highly recommend you read the USA Today article, “Fatal chemical accidents expose weak federal laws.” For more information, please see: