Along with the string of hurricanes in 2017 came flooding that just won’t seem to quit. The hurricanes may be over, but the flooding seems to be getting worse. This is not only a concern for homes that are in the water’s path, but it’s also a major issue for potential chemical spills.
The New York Times says that when the hurricanes left, the climate started to warm up. Because of this, there was a toxic spill in Baytown, Texas. Waters ended up flooding a chemical plant and released lye. A Florida fertilizer plant and an Ohio refinery saw the same kind of situation. The fear of this happening again is instilled in the minds of many.
At this point, any chemical plant near waterways in the impacted areas are at risk. A Climate Science Special Report says that flooding and climate change are going to get worse as the months go on. The heavy rainfall that many areas are experiencing is going to make the situation a lot worse.
The Times says that the location of these plants is due to a time when it was the easiest to transport goods to and from a certain area via a waterway. During that time, the flooding wasn’t much of a concern or a risk, so it didn’t stop anyone from building so close to the water.
Jeanne Herb, an environmental policy expert at Rutgers University, spoke to the Times regarding the rising water levels.
“Waterfronts are changing as a result of sea level rise,” she said. “More often than not, these are facilities are on the water for a reason. So how do we make sure that there are protections in place? That’s the big question.”
Back in 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that required planners of buildings that were federally funded, roadways, and other infrastructure to make sure they built with flooding and rising water levels in mind. This would ensure that anything like a chemical plant would be protected against the dangers. However, when President Donald Trump took office, he rescinded the rules.
Every year, about 16,000 chemical spills are due to material transfers via trucks, tanks, and trains. However, this shouldn’t be the only concern. At this point, any companies looking to build in the near future need to be aware of potential risks and do what they can to take preventative measures.