Climate Change Threatens Communities with Dangerous Spills and Contamination from Nearby Industrial Facilities

by David Flores | October 18, 2016

To date, climate adaptation and resilience planning efforts on the local, state, and federal levels have largely focused on protecting residential, commercial, and municipal infrastructure from sea level rise and deadly storm surge through such structural practices as shoreline armoring. However, a growing number of advocates are raising concerns about the threat that extreme weather poses to the low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately situated near industrial facilities vulnerable to flooding. 

Industrial facilities – oil and gas, manufacturing, chemical, and agricultural – are often sited within floodplains to permit access to water for transport and industrial process and are ill-equipped to prevent hazardous material spills and leaks caused by extreme precipitation, flooding, and storm surge. As a result, neighboring communities are at particular risk of exposure to these dangerous substances during and following extreme weather events. Community members and first responders face not only the immediate risk of contact but also chronic exposure once contaminated floodwaters recede and leave an invisible toxic residue in homes, water systems, schools, open spaces, and wherever floodwaters invaded. 

Last month, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) filed a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit against ExxonMobil that seeks to prevent future uncontrolled discharges caused by climate change impacts at an industrial facility on Massachusetts' Mystic River. ExxonMobil's Everett Terminal, located near residential communities in Chelsea, is an oil and gas storage and distribution facility that generates large quantities of hazardous waste ...

Climate-Related Catastrophes Require Proactive Solutions and Preparation

by Evan Isaacson | August 10, 2016
Two people died on July 30 after a 1,000-year storm brought devastating flooding to the lovely and historic Ellicott City, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. The 6.5 inches of rain that fell over the course of a few hours damaged or destroyed more than 150 vehicles and scores of buildings, and forced the rescue of dozens of people. It also sent more than 5 million gallons of sewage per day from several different sites into the Patuxent River and out ...

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