Sorry, no more Y2K or Chemical Plant discussion allowed here : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Message-ID: <> From: John Denver Reply-To: Newsgroups: Subject: Glasnost! Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 13:20:05 -0700

Time for another RAT HOLE Alert. Even JD almost slipped into this one.

Remember Congressman Tom Bliley's (R-VA) 2/10/99 attempt to make speech about chemical plants a crime? I referenced it here:

The sponsors were really keen on getting this law through. As Declan writes in his article, they brought in the *big guns*: "The duo then tried an emotional plea. They asked Diane Leonard, whose husband, a Secret Service agent, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, to speak. "If any of those supporting the dissemination of this information on the Internet could step inside any of us who have lost loved ones to terrorism, they would change their positions on this issue," said Leonard as she peeked over the six microphones at the podium. She said she saw her "husband's mutilated body," and Internet publication would result in more corpses."

Well, the big guns worked. Tom and the FBI got their wish. Internet speech on the details of chemical sites and Y2K is now a Federal Crime. The law is called: The Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act (PL 106-40). An FAQ for laymen is located here:

Are you a duly recognized "covered person" or "covered researcher"? Whether you are or not, you better keep your mouth shut about chemical plants. You can be fined $5000 per facility per mouth off, up to a total of $1 million/year.

Speech restrictions will be in effect until Aug. 5, 2000, at which time a decision will be made on the restoration of democracy.

Legislative data on the Act: > Approved Aug. 5, 1999. > >LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 880: >--------------------------------------------------------------------------- > >SENATE REPORTS: No. 106-70 (Comm. on Environment and Public Works). >CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 145 (1999): > June 23, considered and passed Senate. > July 21, considered and passed House, amended. > Aug. 2, Senate concurred in House amendments.

The Act itself can be found here:

********************* The parallels are getting more striking by the day. In the interests of protecting the remediation effort (perestroika), we will be restricting frank talk about chemical plants (glasnost), so we don't have to deal with a chemical plant release (Chernobyl). The CIA probably won't predict *our* collapse either.

The Russkies were lucky. At least they had glasnost during their perestroika and Chernobyl. We have to shut up.

Oh well! You won't catch me saying a peep about *you-know-what* anymore. I'm changing that part of my clown act to mime.

BOZO999 Honk honk honk Where's the party?

-- Ron Schwarz (, October 22, 1999


Can someone knowledgeable interpret the legalese in the linked document? When it refers to the disclosure restrictions on "off-site consequence analysis", what precisely is it referring to? I would guess off-site consequence analysis means analyzing the consequences to the surrounding community (off-site) as opposed to consequences to the facility itself (on-site?) in the event of an accidental release? But, is an off-site consequence analysis a formal document as prepared by the facility itself? In other words, one can link to the EPA's database, find out what toxins a facility is processing, recycling, releasing and transferring. IF (hypothetically speaking, of course), one learns that a particular facility processes 9 different known toxic substances, that they are among the largest air-releasers of known toxins in a given state, and that they rate among the highest 10% of "dirtiest plants" nationally in reproductive toxins released to one prohibited by law from discussing an analysis of the off-site consequences of an accidental release by this facility?

If one is prohibited from discussing off-site consequence analysis, is one allowed to say, "this (hypothetical, of course) XYZ company has NOT completed y2k remediation of mission-criticals, and they have NO contingency plans", as long as one does not speculate on off-site consequences? How about if one provides the information from the publically accessible EPA database, along with information about the facility's Y2K status, and allows the listener/reader to form their own opinion of off-site consequences?

-- (, October 23, 1999.

I took a quick look at the federal FAQ's. It's not that bad. A "covered person" (a federal employee, a state employee, or certain reserchers) is prohibited from releasing information in a database format. There is no prohibition on any discussion on this forum, and a covered person may disclose any information orally or in any form that could not easily be turned into a database. From the fed's document:

4. Are private individuals of companies prohibited from distributing OCA materials?

A. Restrictions only apply to "covered persons". A private individual or entity is not prohibited from distributing OCA materials. Because a facility may choose to distribute the OCA sections of its RMP, covered persons may disclose to the public the OCA sections of an RMP that has been released to the public "without restriction" by the facility that submitted the RMP.

5. What can "covered persons" share with the public?

A. Covered persons are forbidden from publicly disclosing Sections 2 through 5 of an RMP because those sections could be compiled fairly easily into a large OCA database that could be posted on the Internet. Consequently, a covered person may not show or distribute duplicate copies of those RMP sections. However, a covered person is not prohibited from communicating the information in these sections orally or in writing as long as the format does not replicate Sections 2 through 5 of an RMP. A covered person may, for example, answer questions from the public about the potential off-site consequences of an accident at a particular facility using the information reported in that facility's RMP. A covered person also may disclose or distribute information contained in the executive summary of the RMP.

-- kermit (, October 23, 1999.

For a proper understanding of how the rules will be interpreted, refer to Moby Dick.

-- Ron Schwarz (, October 23, 1999.

Congress shall make no law.....................unless they want to

-- Mr. Pinochle (, October 23, 1999.

Before the law gets passed, here's some ammo from Sanglers Review:

It looks like today is chemical day in Y2K news! The stories below all refer to a study by Texas A&M University on the Y2K readiness of small and medium-sized chemical companies. (There were others.)

Spotty Y2K Record for Chemical Cos. (H. Josef Herbert, Yahoo! News/AP)

Small U.S. Chemical Firms Lag On Y2K - Study (Yahoo! News/Reuters)

Senate's Y2K Committee Urges Close Watch on Chemical Firms (Joseph Robello, Dow Jones Newswires -- requires paid registration) http://

Survey: Most Smaller Chemical Firms Not Ready for Year 2000 (Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld) all/9910214chem

Senate Warns of Small Chemical Firms' Y2K Status (Erich Luening, CNET News)

Y2K Readiness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center, Chemical Engineering Division, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M University System) http://

This is where you can view the survey, and the results, in HTML. (Click the "Y2K Information" link.) From the "Methodology" section:

"A telephone survey was designed, and was edited multiple times with input from survey professionals as well as knowledgeable Y2K experts. The survey as used is provided in Appendix A. It was initially planned to target approximately 200 small Chemicals and Allied Products Industries firms with less than 50 employees in each of the states of New Jersey, California, Kansas, and Texas. Sites that are part of a large corporation were not included. Utilizing on-line lists of Manufacturers' News, Inc., 100 completed surveys in each state were expected from the initial pool. The pool in Kansas was too small, so firms with less than 200 employees, which included medium sized firms, were included. The pool in New Jersey was enlarged to include all firms with less than 50 employees listed which were not parts of a large corporation. The pools in California and Texas were enlarged in an attempt to achieve 100 completed surveys each; however, all companies surveyed had less than 50 employees. Total pool sizes were: New Jersey, 457; California, 443; Kansas, 155; and Texas, 359. Trained surveyors at the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University conducted the phone interviews and compiled the statistical results of the interviews. The complete statistical results are shown in Appendix B."

Study Says Small Chemical Business Not Y2K Ready, Bennett, Dodd Urge EPA, FEMA to Help Prepare Communities (Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem) pr991021.htm

This is where you can find a Senate press release, and the Senate's version of this report (in PDF format). "Based on the new findings, Bennett and Dodd said they are urging Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head James Lee Witt and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Carol Browner to alert State Emergency Managers, State Emergency Response Commissions and Local Emergency Planning Committees."

Sen. Dodd is quoted here, "Ensuring the health and safety of our citizens must be our number one Y2K priority... While the probability of a Y2K-related disruption is low, the potential harm even one chemical accident can cause means we must be especially vigilant... Time is running out, but it's still not too late if these firms act now... Developing viable Y2K contingency plans in conjunction with state and local officials must be a top priority in the chemical industry."

Sen. Bennett says, "In the past, we have had very little information about small chemical handlers and manufacturers, and the assumption was made that they were not prepared for Y2K... To a large degree, that assumption has been confirmed by this in-depth, independent report... This is the case for many small businesses outside the chemical industry as well... And while small business Y2K preparedness is important for our economy, few small businesses in other industries carry the same public safety concerns with regard to their Y2K preparedness... Now that we have more information on the chemical industry, individuals and communities can take reasonable steps to prepare for Y2K... I would urge community emergency planners and local chemical firms to work together toward ensuring a smooth and safe transition to the new year."

Dr. M. Sam Mannan, the O'Connor center director and associate professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M, who helped conduct the study, said, "We suggest that special emphasis be given to contingency planning and communications issues, given the lack of preparation time remaining... Sharing contingency planning strategies and coordination with local responders is highly recommended."

The results, in a nutshell, from the press release:

"Funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and prepared by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station's (TEES) Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center headquartered at Texas A&M University in College Station, the report conducted a scientific survey of firms with 200 or fewer employees in New Jersey, Kansas, California and Texas. Its results include the following:

86.5 percent of firms surveyed are not currently prepared for Y2K. 85.6 percent have not coordinated emergency plans with local/community officials. A majority have not linked contingency planning to community emergency services such as police, fire and rescue, or hospitals. 79 percent said they had never before been surveyed about Y2K preparedness. A majority of respondents do not belong to industry organizations or trade associations, which have been the primary gatherers of Y2K preparedness information in the private sector. 4.1 percent said Y2K presents a potential for a catastrophic event."

-- dw (, October 23, 1999.


Thanks. So, the law only applies to covered persons; defined as federal or state employees and "certain researchers". Is a journalist in the "certain researchers" category?

Do you know what is contained in Sections 2 through 5 of a RMP? Is there a certain template used, and if so, where could it be found? As a private individual, if one obtains section 2 through 5 of a facility's RMP, it appears that one is allowed to distribute that information?

-- (, October 23, 1999.

They not only want to hide their f*ups, they want us to hide them too. Did they ever consider that if they (government and the responsible corporations) weren't such a*holes and f*ups, that there wouldn't be any necessity for whistle-blowing?

They are like a bunch of bugs scurrying to get out of sight again, when you turn over a rock.

-- A (, October 23, 1999.

OK, so I won't talk about specific facilities...I won't have to. Usually a Refinery blowing up does its own talking...ditto a Propane Tank Farm...and certainly an Ammonium Nitrate ship that catches fire.

What is the point of this law??? Any foreign trained Chemical Engineer could deduce which chemicals are made/used at given plant. Who knows...

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 23, 1999.

Law was passed a few months ago with the stated intent of preventing "terrorists" getting access to info on a chemical plant's worst case scenario, which they could then apparently use for their own plans. The EPA wanted to keep the information public record but the FBI and other intelligence organizations wanted it kept from view. So Congress voted in favor of the new law. It was then signed by the President. The intent was to place a moratorium on the critical information that coincidentally people would need to make personal decisions re their own risk .. in effect until August of next year, well past rollover.

The information on the vote at the time, and the need to protect us from terrorists, was contained in two wire stories that I read, one from Reuters and one from Associated Press. There was not much detail in the stories.

This vote was taken AFTER the U.S. Chemical Safety Board sent a letter to each state Governor warning that catastrophic incidents could occur at chemical plants in this country because of several Y2K related problems. I read a comment from Dr. Paula Gordon a little while ago that only 10 states whose governors had received that letter responded. The Board was warning Governors there was no way the federal government could oversee incidents and potential incidents at all these plants and it was the responsibility of the states to step in and do what they could, including any necessary mop up.

The fact that 85 million people in the United States live within five miles of the 66,000 chemical plants and related facilities was something I learned just a few days before the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives put a choke hold on easy access to this information... if in fact you were interested in finding out what kind of damage your neighboring plant might do to you, especially during Y2K.

Got gas masks?

-- (normally@ease.notnow), October 23, 1999.

"Got gas masks."

Actually I don't. Do you know where to find any?

-- (looking@gas.masks), October 23, 1999.

try theres a link off the same company. avoid the 'military/isreali surplus' masks. You'll only wind up in a body-bag that way. Also for other chemical protection advice, US Army FM 5-15 Chemical/Biological Shelter and Protection. Check the local library or National Guard NBC NCO They *may* be willing to offer advice...

-- Billy Boy (, October 23, 1999.

BEWARE, BEWARE, however of getting used or Army surplus masks. SOme of these may have actually been exposed to germ agents in combat -- Desert Storm -- and in purchasing a uwsed mask you may run the risk of bringing a hazardous material or microbe into your home. BUY NEW.

-- Roch Steinbach (, October 23, 1999.

Actually the proper method to clean a gas mask (or pilot's oxygen mask) is to wash the thing using straight grain alcohol. I've heard of some folks using denatured alcohol but for flight crews it had to be medical quality alcohol. Uncle wanted no chances of crews being effected by the fumes from denatured alcohol. But getting tips from pure grain alcohol was OK.

With a gas mask you'd remove and dispose of the filters before dunking and then install fresh filters after the mask is allowed to dry. If you're buying a used mask, remember that new filters will be needed right at the start. And then you need a stock of replacement filters whether you buy new or used.

And don't forget to clean/wash your mask after any period of use. You won't believe what starts growing in one after you've breathed into it for a while. Makes month-old growth in an unwashed coffee cup look mild.


-- Wildweasel (, October 23, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ