We cause cancer but the rules to clean up[ are politically driven.
A controversial chemical plant near LaPlace is pushing back against mounting pressure from federal regulators to reduce emissions of a likely cancer-causing chemical. The Denka Performance Elastomers neoprene manufacturing plant on Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over longstanding air pollution controls on chloroprene, a chemical that the agency has long considered likely carcinogenic. The Tokyo-based company questions the science behind the EPA’s more than 10-year-old assessment. “It is critical the best available science is used to protect human health and the environment,” Denka plant manager Jorge Lavastida said. “The people of St. John the Baptist Parish deserve current and accurate scientific information regarding health risks in their community.” The EPA did not respond to a request for comment. The agency typically doesn’t discuss issues involving litigation.nola.com
Short tern makes you sick long term can kill you. This is not politics.
Short-term chloroprene exposure can cause a host of issues, including dizziness, increased heart rates, stomach disorders, hair loss and eye damage, according to the EPA. Long-term exposure has been associated with increased risk of cancer and other health problems. While Denka has long insisted that chloroprene’s dangers are overblown, the company has offered little pushback against the EPA. But the EPA has taken a much harder stance against Denka under President Joe Biden’s administration. Biden appointee Michael Regan, the first Black man to lead the EPA, was part of a tour in November 2021 that highlighted environmental justice concerns in Louisiana. During unannounced inspections, the Regan-led EPA documented workers failing to wear protective gear, the storage of chloroprene in an open-air pit, elevated levels of the chemical in the air and the likely improper disposal of more than 4 million pounds of hazardous waste in an Avondale landfill between 2019 and 2021. In an agreement reached with the EPA late last month, Denka agreed to improve waste disposal and provide workers with protective equipment.
Set in Cancer Alley the bulk of those impacted are Black.
An EPA investigation recently asserted that Black people suffer disproportionate levels of air pollution from Denka. It said residents and children in nearby schools were routinely exposed to chloroprene levels that would produce a risk of cancer far higher than EPA’s acceptable level. The EPA also took aim at state regulators, asserting that the Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality and Health may be violating federal civil rights laws by failing to take adequate action against Denka. The plant sits along the Mississippi River in the small, mostly Black community of Reserve, about 25 miles west of New Orleans. It was built by the DuPoint chemical company in 1964 and purchased by Denka in 2015. It is the country’s only producer of neoprene, a synthetic rubber used in beer koozies, laptop computer sleeves and wetsuits.
Our two senators both, republican, have entered the fray.
Denka’s lawsuit comes a few days after Louisiana’s U.S. senators urged the EPA to rethink its rules on chloroprene emissions. In a letter sent on Monday, Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, said “an update of the cancer risk assessment for chloroprene should be a national priority” and “would resolve a key source of uncertainty” for state regulators. The letter echoed Denka’s assertions that EPA rules were based on flawed science, and stressed that the plant has greatly reduced pollution in recent years. According to Denka, the plant’s chloroprene emissions have been cut by 85% thanks to $35 million worth of equipment upgrades and other measures. The lawsuit notes a dramatic shift in the EPA’s relationship with the chemical industry since Biden took office in 2021. EPA officials have been more willing to hear from environmental and community groups while ignoring Denka’s requests to meet, the lawsuit says. While the EPA has long believed chloroprene can cause cancer, agency officials now speak openly about it and are more willing to take action to curb emissions. Denka says the EPA is causing unnecessary fear about a chemical the company says poses relatively little risk. “EPA appears to be following a politically driven strategy to support the demands made by environmental activists and lawyers,” the lawsuit said.
A health issue not a political one.