Many chemical facilities handling highly hazardous chemicals are located adjacent to communities. Fires, explosions, and releases of toxic materials have the potential for either directly or indirectly affecting these communities. These events could cause deaths, serious personal injury, or chronic illnesses and loss of jobs. It is only natural for these communities to be concerned about the threats that these facilities pose to them, especially if there has been an incident in that facility that affected the community, or potentially could have affected the community. Community Action Panels, or CAPs, normally interact with these facilities on a regular basis to stay abreast of what the facility is doing and to voice concerns.
These meetings are very valuable, but may not be sufficient to calm the fears of the community. The best way to determine if these concerns or fears are valid is to perform a hazard assessment of the facility. A chemical hazard risk assessment will determine the hazards presented by the facility, the safeguards that are in place to protect against them, and recommendations, if any, on how to improve the existing safeguards or supplement them. This assessment provides a win-win solution for both the facility and the community. It gives the facility the chance to show that they have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the community if this is the case. It also gives the community a sense of security if it is determined that sufficient safeguards are in place, or a chance to request that safeguards be improved or supplemented if improvements are recommended. The decisions of the facility and the community will be made in a cooperative manner based on facts and not speculations or assumptions.