Sat, Apr

Your Government Failed You ... Again!


VOICES-Richard Clark, Coordinator for National Security and Terrorism under Clinton and Bush, titled his book on the events of September 11 ‘Your Government Failed You’, citing all the warnings and indications of that threat which had been ignored.  Well, the failure continues, with the latest evidence of how our government agencies have failed in their duty to protect its citizens, being the irresponsible delay on the part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create and enforce their own rules in the case of Rancho LPG (a massive butane and propane gas storage facility) on N. Gaffey St. in San Pedro. 

DHS was formed in 2007 to protect against a repeat of the 9/11 Twin Towers destruction of life by terrorists, who would harm U.S. citizens or property.  (That’s seven years ago!)  

Part of their effort was a program called CFATS or Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, a program which changed the government’s previous attempt to protect its citizens from accidental releases from chemical plants, by making it very difficult to find out what the threat was from chemical plants in our neighborhoods.  The earlier attempt in 1986 and 1990 was based on Community Right to Know.  

(This was an earlier failure – to fail to include an objective standard that a facility was too dangerous to exist, or a certain number of possible deaths were too many.)  CFATS took that right away and replaced it with … nothing!  

DHS is creating requirements for facilities on a case-by-case basis, but are so far behind that the General Accounting Office (a watchdog agency for other Federal agencies) in a study, GAO-13-801T, estimates that it won’t have standards in place to make chemical plants safer from terrorist attacks for another 10 years!  

This report is available to the public on the internet (www.gao.gov), but has not yet been reported in the press!  Even the media isn’t doing its job!    

In the case of Rancho LPG LLC, (a subsidiary of industry giant Plains All American Pipeline) the threat in storing 25 million gallons of butane is obvious to anyone who picks up a high school chemistry or physics text and looks at the properties of butane.  

Even Rancho’s hired consultant, Quest Consulting, acknowledges that it has the explosive power of 53 atomic bombs! EPA had sited Rancho for several deficiencies last year in regard to safety and emergency preparedness.  

DHS was called in to do its own inspection, but they failed to issue any citation.  

Congressman Waxman called them on that and wanted to know why.  Now the answer is clear – because DHS had not yet set the standards for Rancho!  

In spite of the danger, accessibility, and terrorist economic potential of this site, they hadn’t gotten around to writing its own set of rules!  Only now have they done that, a year later, but they can’t cite them until Rancho complies, and DHS has given them a year to do that.     

Your government failed you again.  3000 souls died on 9/11.  When Rancho blows, the death toll will be somewhere between 770 (their number) and 2800 (EPA Guidance document).  Maybe.  We’ll be lucky if it stays under that, since it’s obvious that the fire will spread from one tank to the rest of the tankage at the facility, and then to neighboring facilities storing flammable substances.  This could include you and your home. 


(Connie Rutter is a retired oil industry environmental consultant.)






Vol 12 Issue 21

Pub: Mar 11, 2014



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