There is a bill before the Texas legislature that would establish a system to send alerts to residents’ mobile phones during a release of toxic chemicals from a manufacturing facility.
The bill, introduced by Austin, TX, Democratic state legislator Rep. Eddie Rodriguez would help increase protection for affected individuals against toxins that threaten human health or the environment.
The bill would set up an opt-out system, so phone users would receive the alerts unless they choose not to and act on that choice. Currently, chemical alerts can end up issued by some agencies, but there is no uniform statewide alert system in Texas.
An example of an incident where the alerts could have assisted the public was the methyl mercaptan gas release that killed three operators and a shift supervisor at the DuPont La Porte, Texas, facility on Nov. 15, 2014.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board in November 2015 issued recommendations in the case, including that DuPont conduct an inherently safer design review before resuming Insecticide Business Unit manufacturing operations.
The board recommended a comprehensive engineering analysis of the discharge of pressure relief systems with toxic chemical scenarios to assess potential inherently safer design options and implementing inherently safer design principles to the greatest extent feasible.