Photograph taken by local resident
Last June, a gas processing plant in Moss Point located within three miles of several neighborhoods exploded. The gas processing plant is owned by BP Amoco and Enterprise Products, LLC. It is one of the largest gas processing facilities in the nation with the capacity to process up to 1 billion cubic feet per day. The Destin Pipeline (jointly owned by affiliates of Shell, Sonat, and BP Amoco) carries natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico directly to the plant, and then delivers the processed gas to five interstate pipelines.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured as a result of the explosion, but nearby residents were concerned about what they might be exposed to as a result of the explosion. Though Jackson County Emergency Management did not notify or evacuate the surrounding neighborhoods, many were awaken in the middle of the night by the sound and sight of the explosion and decided to evacuate.
Unlike oil and chemical plants, gas processing plants are not required to report the list and quantity of hazard pollutants they release to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.
The TRI Program was created as part of a response to several events that raised public concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information on hazardous substances.
On December 4, 1984, a cloud of extremely toxic methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a Union Carbide Chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands of people died that night and thousands more died later as a result of their exposure. Survivors continue to suffer with permanent disabilities. In 1985, a serious chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia.
In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to support and promote emergency planning and to provide the public with information about releases of toxic chemicals in their community. Section 313 of EPCRA established the Toxics Release Inventory.
The EPA is now considering a rule that adds natural gas processing plants to the TRI program. Communities have until May 7, 2017 to submit their comments about the proposed rule. The EPA provides the following recommendations for submitting a public comment:
A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.
These tips are meant to help the public submit comments that have an impact and help agency policy makers improve federal regulations.
Read and understand the regulatory document you are commenting on
Feel free to reach out to the agency with questions
Be concise but support your claims
Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted
Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment
There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment
The comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters
Click here to submit your comments.
To learn more about the health impacts of gas production, check out these resources.