The EPA is talking to judges to tell them to enforce the law.
Environmental regulators called on a federal judge Monday to immediately force Denka Performance Elastomer to reduce its emissions of chloroprene, the likely cancer-causing chemical produced at its controversial plant in St. John the Baptist Parish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion for a preliminary injunction comes after its lawsuit filed on February 28 in U.S. Eastern District Court in New Orleans against the Japan-based company alleging “an imminent and substantial endangerment to the communities surrounding the facility.” EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited the area as part of a tour to highlight environmental justice issues in 2021. “All communities deserve to breathe fresh, clean air,” Regan said in a statement announcing the court filing. “It is one of EPA’s top priorities as we work to protect human health and the environment.”
Denka is the single plant for chloroprene.
The plant is the only one in the United States that produces chloroprene, which is used to manufacture neoprene products such as wetsuits. The EPA notes that the 5th Ward Elementary School is located only about 450 feet from Denka’s facility, while East St. John High School is about a mile-and-a-half away. Activists have long pushed for action against the plant, located in the industrialized corridor along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that environmentalists and some residents have labeled “Cancer Alley.” “These emissions are exposing infants, children, and adults in nearby communities, such as LaPlace, Reserve, and Edgard, Louisiana, to some of the country’s highest cancer risks from industrial air pollution,” Monday’s filing by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA said. “Given their magnitude and the rate at which they are accumulating, these cancer risks constitute an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health and welfare of parish residents.”
Denka is, of course of the fake news and I don’t do anything wrong mindset.
Denka called the EPA’s action “unlawful” and said that monitoring at the plant’s fenceline showed emissions at “historic lows.” It says that the science behind chloroprene’s designation as a likely carcinogen is badly flawed and outdated while citing a study of the chemical that Denka sponsored concluding there was no increased risk. The company also says it has spent $35 million to reduce chloroprene emissions by over 85 percent at the plant since it bought it in 2015 from DuPont Specialty Products USA LLC. “This unprecedented lawsuit and EPA’s motion for a preliminary injunction will only scare people unnecessarily in the name of politics,” said DPE Executive Officer and Plant Manager Jorge Lavastida.
This is environmental justice not politics.
Monday’s filing calls on the court to require Denka to “enclose several known chloroprene sources so that their now-diffuse, or simply uncontrolled, emissions can be captured and then routed to effective air pollution control equipment.” The request relates to equipment known as poly kettle strainers and says “reasonable interim enclosures can and should be constructed relatively quickly.” The filing also addresses waste-handling and maintenance practices, while also calling on Denka to develop longer-term solutions for emissions. In addition to the lawsuit, the EPA has warned that the Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality and Health may be violating federal civil rights laws due to Denka emissions.
Would Denka build this plant in Japan?