WASHINGTON, D.C. –Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, along with Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Hilda Solis (D-CA), wrote today to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff about thefts and reported thefts of 150-pound chlorine cylinders from several California facilities. 

The Representatives asked whether, in light of the recent deadly attacks in Iraq using stolen chlorine to create improvised chemical weapons and the fact that alternative technologies and procedures are both available and inexpensive, the U.S. should move to replace chlorine from the water purification process with safer chemicals.  The Members of Congress also asked that Secretary Chertoff provide a list of U.S. thefts, losses or attempted thefts of materials that are toxic by inhalation for the past 5 years.

Rep. Markey said, “The thefts of chlorine cylinders in California, both reported and attempted, are a reminder of the tremendous danger that toxic chemicals represent to the American people.  This is not a theoretical risk – there have already been several attacks using these materials in Iraq.  If inexpensive and simple alternatives exist to using highly toxic chemicals, chemicals which would provide a tempting target to terrorists, shouldn’t the United States be moving quickly to switch over to the safer methods?  That is exactly the situation we face in regards to the use of chlorine in water treatment facilities, where a recent study found that switching from chlorine gas to safer technologies costs no more than $1.50 per person served by the facility per year.”

A copy of the lawmaker’s letter to Secretary Chertoff can be found here:Letter to Chertoff.pdf


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For Immediate Release: April 23, 2007                                                                                 Contact: Will Huntington 202.225.2836,