PHOTO: A new analysis finds that about 12 percent of Tennessee’s public school pupils attend classes within one mile of a so-called high-risk chemical facility. Image courtesy Center for Effective Government.
Millions of children across the country and tens of thousands across the state of Tennessee are attending school in the shadows of potentially-dangerous chemical facilities, according to the findings in a new report. The analysis comes from the Center for Effective Government, whose director of open government policy, Sean Moulton, says the advocacy group found that about one in eight pupils in Tennessee is in that position. “In Tennessee, we found 113 schools were within a mile of an RMP (Risk Management Plan) facility,” he said. “And those 113 schools had a total attendance of 56,000 students, which is about 12 percent of the Tennessee school kids that attend public schools.” Moulton says ensuring that pupils near these facilities are safe requires stronger disclosure rules and greater oversight, as well as better emergency response plans. “Students do fire drills every day, but I don’t think many of these schools have ever really talked about what their plan would be if one of these facilities had a major accident while school was in session,” he said. It was one year ago this month that an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the Texas town of West left 15 dead, hundreds injured and several schools damaged or destroyed. An interactive map showing which Tennessee schools are located near chemical facilities can be found on the Center for Effective Government’s website.