Settlement Calls For Reducing Vinyl Chloride Emissions In Three States

Oxy Vinyls, LP (Oxy Vinyls) has reached a settlement that should significantly reduce vinyl chloride emissions at its plants in Pasadena, Texas; Louisville, Ky.; and Pedricktown, N.J., and the requirements associated with these reductions will become part of Oxy Vinyls' permits.

Under the agreement with the federal government, the Louisville (Ky.) Metropolitan Air Pollution Control District (LMAPCD) and the state of New Jersey, Oxy Vinyls has agreed to perform three environmental projects at an estimated cost of more than $1.22 million that are expected to permanently decrease emissions of vinyl chloride by approximately 40,000 pounds per year within five years. Oxy Vinyls, headquartered in Dallas, is North America's largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin supplier and the third largest PVC supplier worldwide.

Most vinyl chloride is used to make PVC plastic and vinyl products. Exposure to vinyl chloride emissions has been linked to adverse human health effects, including liver cancer, other liver diseases, and neurological disorders. EPA has classified vinyl chloride as a human carcinogen.

Oxy Vinyls also will pay a civil penalty of $140,000 to be split evenly between the federal government and the LMAPCD and a civil penalty of $200,000 to New Jersey for separate violations in that state. Further, Oxy Vinyls will conduct sampling for hazardous wastes at the Pasadena facility. Oxy Vinyls also agreed to comply with specific leak detection requirements at its Pedricktown facility.

"With (this) agreement, Oxy Vinyls will reduce its emissions of vinyl chloride -- a known human carcinogen -- ensuring that citizens in these communities will have decreased exposure to this toxin," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). "Of particular importance is the manner in which the state, local and federal agencies worked together to achieve the common goal of improving the environment."

EPA officials said that the Oxy Vinyls settlement is part of a larger initiative focusing on the polyvinyl chloride manufacturing industry, a significant source of vinyl chloride emissions in the United States. The settlement is the third reached to date. As a result of the settlements with Occidental Chemical Corp. in 2004, Formosa Plastics Delaware facility in 2005, and the Oxy Vinyls case on June 8, 2006, the vinyl chloride initiative has addressed and resolved alleged violations of environmental requirements and reduced vinyl chloride emissions by a total of approximately 128,000 pounds.

A copy of the consent decree lodged on June 8 is available on DOJ's Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html and on the EPA Web site: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/mm/oxyvinyls.html.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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