WASHINGTON— The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it is giving state and local governments new data on 402 acutely toxic chemicals in an effort to help guard against disaster in case of a chemical accident.

The information outlines the characteristics of each chemical on the EPA’s list, discusses the data of each substance, and warns of conditions that might make the chemical more deadly. It also lists possible health hazards and prescribes precautions for safe use of the materials.

“This unprecedented federal, state and local effort is designed to help prevent tragedies similar to the one last year in Bhopal, India,” said EPA Administrator Lee Thomas, referring to the December 1984 gas leak from Union Carbide’s Bhopal factory that killed at least 1,700 people.

“EPA is providing technical expertise through the states to communities to ensure that each one of them will be able to take action necessary to protect the public in the event off pages of information they receive from the EPA to encourage local industries, nearby residents and governments to work together in case of an accident, he said.

“This guidance does not provide a simple recipe that local communities can use to write a contingency plan quickly and for all time,” the EPA said in the preface of its “Chemical Emergency Preparedness Program Interim Guidance.”

The EPA characterized the 402 substances on its list as “acutely toxic chemicals, which, if released accidentally in sufficient quantities, could produce immediate (acute) adverse health effects to nearby populations unless appropriate emergency response action is taken.”

In addition to specific information on the 402 chemicals, the EPA also said it is supplying guidelines for local officials to use in gauging the potential.

Article extracted from this publication >>  December 20, 1985