Chemical Accident Data Plan Proposed Clinton Opposes National Access

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration proposed legislation yesterday to disclose regional "worst case" casualty estimates from chemical accidents -- but prevent dissemination of a national database.

The plan aims to keep terrorists from obtaining information to plan an attack, while telling Americans living near dangerous chemicals how they might be affected by a catastrophic event.

In Congress, majority Republicans have expressed concerns about public data that could help terrorists pick a chemical target.

The Environmental Protection Agency originally considered posting plant-by-plant "worst case" estimates on the Internet, but dropped the idea last fall after the FBI, the CIA, the National Fire Chiefs Association and lawmakers raised concerns.

Timothy Fields, acting EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, said emergency officials and the public would be provided information in their own geographical areas under the plan. In some cases, the public information would include a multi-state region.

Some 36,000 facilities must provide "worst-case scenario" information to the EPA by June 21 under a federal law. …