Contact: Neil Carman, PhD, Clean Air Program Director,
Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, 512-288-5772, Neil_Carman@greenbuilder.com
or Hilton Kelly, Community Organizer, CIDA, 409-498-1088,
Environmental Groups Document
Dangers of Importing and Burning Toxic PCBs in Port Arthur
Waste Disposal Company Seeking Exemption from Ban on
PCB Importation - Comments Due to EPA by June 5
(Austin) - The Sierra Club, Communities In-Power Development
Association (CIDA), Earth Justice, and the Chemical Weapons
Working Group are filing comments and numerous related
documents with the U. S. EPA in response to a company's
application for authorization to import and burn dangerous
Biphenyls (PCBs) in Southeast Texas.
Veolia Environmental Services (Veolia) wants to import
20 thousand tons [equivalent to 40 million pounds] of
toxic liquid PCBs from Mexico to Port Arthur for incineration.
Importing PCB's has been illegal since Congress passed
the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, but Veolia
is asking for an exemption to this Federal law.
PCBs are a dangerous class of chemicals
that accumulate in the human body, impact the brain and
nervous system, and cause a range of health effects such
as cancer, immune suppression, reproductive damage, birth
defects, and fetal death.
"Moving these PCBs into the country by truck over
highways to Port Arthur will expose millions of people
to the possibility of an accident, release of PCBs during
transport, and exposure to this dangerous toxin," said
Neil Carman, with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra
Club. "If there is no transportation accident, people
will be exposed anyway if EPA allows Veolia to burn PCBs
in Port Arthur.
"Safer, cleaner, alternative non-burn technologies
already exist and are readily portable so they could
be used on site in Mexico to more safely handle the PCB
disposal at each location."
Low-income African Americans in Port Arthur are already
suffering from an
unjust concentration of toxic facilities. Port Arthur
is the U.S. hub for
PCBs. With only four PCB incinerators remaining in operation
in the United States, Port Arthur's Veolia is number
one in the nation for PCB releases,
according to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory. Besides
Veolia in a highly-publicized case last year prevailed
in burning military nerve gas waste despite an earlier
injunction which was over-ruled by a Federal Circuit
"Texans are currently experiencing a heavy toxic
exposure in our atmosphere because Veolia is already
burning domestic PCBs and the toxic nerve gas waste called
hydrolosate. Now it looks like we could suffer the burning
of waste from abroad as well," said Hilton Kelly, "The
EPA must not allow Veolia to continue using Southeast
Texas to burn America's or the world's most toxic waste."
In response to environmental justice concerns, EPA Administrator
Stephen Johnson approved a 45-day extension for public
comments which ends this Thursday, June 5, 2008. The
EPA will hold a public meeting in Port Arthur on Thursday,
"It is paramount that citizens and elected officials
become aware of this issue and understand that we are
already experiencing a toxic body burden in every American
as a result of exposure to PCBs and dioxins in the ambient
environment for years," said Carman. "We cannot
go backwards and allow the circumvention of a law passed
to protect us from burning even more PCBs."