Legislation advanced to require public notification and direct outreach when toxic chemicals are released
Denver, CO– The House Finance Committee today advanced Representatives Adrienne Benavidez and Alex Valdez’s bill to protect Colorado communities from toxic chemicals that are emitted from many refineries, factories, coal plants and other facilities. These air toxins heavily impact the communities that live close by and can cause a number of documented health complications. The bill passed 7-4.
“Our communities have a right to know when their industrial neighbors release dangerous levels of toxic and deadly chemicals into our air,” said Rep. Benavidez, D-Brighton. “Every Coloradan has a right to clean air and water, and the communities living in the shadows of these facilities, often communities of color and non-english speakers, must be immediately notified when dangerous chemicals are released.”
“For too long, facilities that release toxic chemicals have repeatedly failed to provide timely and accurate information to the communities nearby. This needs to end,” said Rep. Valdez, D-Denver. “Our bill will require Suncor and other facilities that release toxic air pollution to notify their neighbors when they release harmful levels of deadly chemicals so that our communities have the information they need to respond appropriately and protect their health.”
Toxic air pollution primarily affects those living and working closest to the facilities, which are primarily made up of minorities and lower income Coloradans. Some of these air toxins include Benzene, which can cause a variety of symptoms including respiratory complications, eye and skin irritation, headaches and more. Hydrogen cyanide, another chemical commonly released by factories, refineries and other such entities can cause damage to the central nervous system, which can cause headaches, dizziness, numbness, loss of vision and more symptoms.
HB20-1265 requires facilities to conduct outreach in english and spanish and notify the surrounding communities when they release toxic levels of benzene, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulfide into the air. The requirement applies to anticipated or unanticipated incidents, including as a result of a malfunction, start-up, shutdown, upset or emergency.
The bill is supported by:
Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA)
Colorado Latino Forum
Western Resource Advocates
Healthy Air and Water Colorado
Mi Familia Vota
Colorado Fiscal Institute
Mothers Out Front Colorado
National Parks Conservation Association