This post is the first in a forthcoming series about climate change and the increasing risk of floods releasing toxic chemicals from industrial facilities in Virginia.
At the tail end of winter, a succession of "bomb cyclones" and nor'easters has brought fierce winds and surging coastal flooding to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. These storms remind us of the deepening vulnerability of our coastal and riverfront communities and infrastructure to intensifying extreme weather and flooding. This "freakish" winter weather comes just six months after a previously unimaginable trio of hurricanes laid waste to parts of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The flooding that followed the hurricanes also unleashed significant amounts of toxic chemicals into the environment, signaling that any state with industrial facilities near coasts and in floodplains – including Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states – could be vulnerable to toxic floodwaters in the aftermath of powerful storms.
While much of the nation's attention has shifted away from the severe weather events of the past six months, many returning residents and local governments are rightly concerned about the potential toxic contamination wrought by destructive floodwaters scouring pollution from industrial sites. And they should be. Most lawmakers in federal and state governments have ignored the deepening need to address the threat posed by the broad gap in protections between our flood control and pollution control regimes.
Fortunately, mainstream media are starting to take notice. A decade ago, we learned about the 8 ...