Chemical Law, Safety in Conflict
Glanz, William, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Senate lawmakers struggled yesterday to help businesses comply with a new law that requires them to tell the government about about factories where hazardous chemicals are stored.
A bill introduced by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, would prohibit public access to the information over the Internet and restrict access by other means.
Supporters say such measures are necessary to ensure national security.
But public interest groups are accusing the federal government of trying to withhold information and ignoring potential chemical hazards.
"It does nothing to reduce the hazard," said Paul Orum, coordinator of the Working Group on Community Right-To-Know, a nonprofit public interest group devoted to environmental issues.
Chemical industry representatives yesterday sided with the FBI.
FBI officials warned last year that some of the information companies were required to begin providing to the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday should should not be on line because terrorists could gain access to the data.
Jeffrey Van, spokesman for the Chemical Manufacturers Association in Washington, said the industry does not object to public access to worst-case scenario information as long as that data is not available on the Internet.
"That sounds like a good balance," Mr. …