December 6, 2008 (Kearny NJ). The Kuehne Chemical plant in South Kearny is once again in the news. The Center for American Progress released a report entitled Chemical Security 101: What You Don’t Have Can’t Leak, or Be Blown Up by Terrorists. Kuehne Chemical is one of the companies on the list of 101 most dangerous chemical plants in the United States. Readers of KOTW have long been aware of the potential for a disaster. It is disturbing that little has been done to ensure the safety of the public from a terrorist attack on the Kuehne Chemical plant. KOTW has long advocated for a public-private partnership with the owners of Kuehne to convert their chemical plant to a facility which does not house large quantities of chlorine gas on site. The Center for American Progress report agrees with KOTW's recommendation: the Kuehne plant should be retrofit to produce bleach by using salt and electricity rather than from chlorine gas which would eliminate a terrorist target-- the storage and transportation of large quantities of chlorine gas in and around the plant. The Center for American Progress also recommends the phasing out of the distribution of chlorine gas. Both Senator Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez have attempted to make the plant safer but progress has been slow. It seems that America is reactive rather than proactive. Being reactive especially with a chemical plant that has the potential of effecting 12,000,000 lives is simply irresponsible on the verge of being criminal.
For those who continue to think that there is no need for governmental intervention in the chemical industry, read the December 4, 2008 Jersey Journal article entitled Chlorine Plant tries to Head Off Fines. Kuehne was cited and fined by OSHA for thirty three worker safety and health violations. One of the more disturbing violations was the failure to secure one-ton containers of liquid chlorine on forklift trucks to prevent them from falling off. The spokesman for Kuehne stated that the violations were mostly "paperwork violations".
KOTW hopes that the Obama Administration will work closely with Senators Lautenberg and Menendez to secure the Kuehne Chemical plant. The lives of at least 12 million people depend upon it.