Coalition wants EPA to protect the environment by denying Veolia's application to illegally import and burn highly toxic PCBs in Port Arthur, TX
Environmental Groups Tell EPA Public Meeting - Enforce the Ban on PCBs
(Austin) - The Sierra Club, Communities In-Power Development Association (CIDA, Inc.), concerned citizens, and experts in toxicology and air quality are set to speak about the dangers of PCBs and the importance of upholding
environmental law at an EPA Public Meeting today in Port Arthur, Texas.
Sierra Club, CIDA, Inc., Earthjustice and the Chemical Weapons Working Group have filed comments and numerous related documents in the EPA docket showing reason for serious alarm over the application by Veolia Environmental Service (Veolia) to import and burn dangerous Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls
(PCBs) in Southeast Texas.
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.
"Without making any serious effort to evaluate the health
and environmental risks that its plan will create for the
citizens of Port Arthur and South Texas, EPA proposes to
allow Veolia to import 40 million pounds of highly contaminated
PCB wastes from Mexico and then burn them in an incinerator
that already is this Country's worst PCB emitter," said Earthjustice attorney James Pew. "This
scheme is flatly unlawful and shows an appalling disregard
for the people who live in this region."
PCBs are a dangerous class of chemicals that bio-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.
Company Revises Reported Figures
Veolia does not monitor or measure its stack PCB emissions since it does not have a stack PCB continuous emissions monitoring system. The company reported figures in the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for PCB emissions in
2006 which placed them number 1 for PCB emissions in the United States.
That figure was 1,933 pounds of airborne releases of PCB's. In response to this figure being exposed in the TRI data filed in the docket of their application to burn more PCB's, the company has submitted new numbers, revising the number downward to 2.25 pounds, the equivalent of more than 1 billion micrograms.
"Veolia is using fuzzy math estimates. They've just sent
a revision by a factor of about 900! The important thing
to know is, even with this lower revised figure, this was
still a huge quantity of PCBs which are toxic at the level
of micrograms," said Dr. Neil Carman, PhD Chemist with the Sierra Club. "The
reality is that Veolia doesn't know what they're putting
out because they have no way to measure it. PCB's are deadly
carcinogens that cause cancer and birth defects and we already
have too many PCBs in the environment and our food chains."
With only four such PCB incinerators remaining in operation in the United States, Port Arthur is the U.S. hub for PCB's.
"When will the public interest be protected and when will
we make these companies obey the law? Why should we allow
them to circumvent federal law?" asked Hilton Kelley with the Port Arthur group CIDA, Inc. "Now
is the time for the EPA to do its job and enforce the law."
Low-income African Americans in this Southeast Texas town are already
suffering from an unjust concentration of toxic facilities. Besides
burning PCB's, Veolia following a highly-publicized case last year, began burning military nerve gas waste despite an earlier injunction which was over-ruled by a Federal Circuit Court Judge.
The EPA's public meeting will take place this evening, Thursday, June 19 from 3:30-8:30 PM in Port Arthur, Texas at the Port Arthur City Council Chambers, 444 Lakeshore Blvd., 5th Floor.
At the hearing, experts from UT Medical Branch Galveston will address the toxicology of PCB's and the cumulative impact of air emissions in the Golden Triangle region.
Hilton Kelley and Neil Carman will be available to speak to the media at a press conference from 3:15-3:30 PM in the vestibule outside the Chambers.