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EPA finds LaPlace plant releases high concentrations of carcinogens into air
from Staff Reports - NEWS
June 29, 2017 -

Residents of St. John the Baptist Parish could have an increased risk of cancer, as the EPA finds the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in LaPlace is releasing carcinogens into the air. Wilma Subra with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network says the facility is releasing huge quantities of chloroprene into the air, which can pose a serious health risk to the community.

“It causes liver cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia, as well as a lot of acute impacts like burning of the eyes, burning of the skin, respiratory problems,” Subra said.

Air testing found residents had been subjected to 88 times the concentration of chloroprene the EPA allows. EPA inspectors found 31 valve leaks in the plant, which did not have the proper tools to measure the chemical emissions. Subra says the company argues not all the violations were made under their watch.

“The inspection was performed shortly after Denka bought the facility from DuPont,” Subra said, “So some of those violations were clearly DuPont, and the others were clearly Denka and how they were operating the facility.”

Denka officials could face criminal charges if the company is determined to have been negligent. But the company has agreed to retrofit the facility and reduce emissions by 85 percent before the end of the year. Subra says the carcinogenic chemical must be kept out of the air in such high concentrations.

“Chemical chloroprene that is released into the air on an ongoing basis has to be reduced to reduce the exposure that’s occurring in the residential areas and the schools and the hospital,” Subra said.

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