Groups sue EPA to regulate hazardous spills

Environmental advocates are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not issuing regulations to protect communities from hazardous chemicals that spill at industrial facilities.

In a joint lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC), the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform and People Concerned About Chemical Safety asked the court to require EPA to issue regulations that prevent hazardous substance spills from these facilities, which include above-ground storage tanks. 

Congress mandated EPA to issue these regulations in 1972, but NRDC said the agency has yet to do so.

Citing data from the Coast Guard, the group said there were 18,764 spills between 2005 and 2014, and in 1,294 of those cases hazardous substances reached bodies of water.

"We need strong prevention regulations for hazardous substance spills. Today we have none,’’ Richard Moore, co-coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, said in a news release. “Without such protections, all communities are at risk—but especially residents of disadvantaged communities. It’s time for EPA to clean up its act.”

EPA said it does not comment on pending litigation. 

This story was updated at 6:08 p.m. to include a statement from EPA.