Environmental regulators never inspected hazardous materials storage practices at the small Danvers chemical plant that exploded last week because the state and federal governments focus their enforcement efforts on larger facilities.
There are 15,000 companies in Massachusetts that produce small amounts of hazardous waste, and fewer than 2 percent — between 100 and 200 — are inspected each year by the state Department of Environmental Protection , an agency official said. In contrast, 20 percent of the roughly 400 companies that generate large amounts of waste are inspected annually.
… Small quantity generators include auto body shops, dry cleaners, photo processors, and printing facilities.
The article says that essentially the federal EPA has heretofore prevented the state Department of Environmental Protection from inspecting smaller hazardous waste generators.
We hear again and again about how the environment ranks pretty low down the list of voters’ motivations for choosing one person over another. That stands to reason … until it’s your house that gets blown up when the local dry cleaning biz goes kaboom.
Isn’t it time to look at environmental protection as a simple matter of law enforcement? And that skimping on enforcing the law simply isn’t an acceptable option, any more than letting people get away with murder? Oh wait … we do that too, don’t we.
Here’s hoping that Deval Patrick will be a law-and-order liberal.