Right-to-Know—But What?

Issue 10 and Volume 138.

Right-to-Know—But What? DEPARTMENTS EDITOR’S OPINION EVERY year, four-billion tons of hazardous materials are carried by rail and road in 90-million individual shipments across the United States. If these figures don’t give you reason to pause, consider that millions of tons of materials called hazardous are manufactured, stored, used, and sold in this country every year. “Why hit us with these figures again?” you ask. “Hazardous materials have been beaten to death.” I would have tended to agree with you—a year ago. But Bhopal and Mexico City have redefined the urgency of the subject. They have refocused attention and renewed public furor over an obvious lack of control of a skyrocketing industry. In one week’s time: 30 different chemicals in one shipment of 45 containers derailed and burned; a 5,000-gallon tanker leaked cleaning fluid onto a commuter clogged freeway; 2,500 gallons of poison leaked into an urban sewer system; and a…

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