Texas Community Breathes Easier after Company Withdraws Plan for Import and Incineration of Toxic PCB's
Sierra Club and Port Arthur, Texas-based CIDA Celebrate Victory over Veolia
(Austin) -- The Sierra Club and Port Arthur-based organization Communities In-Powerment Development Association (CIDA) celebrate the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday that the Veolia company has formally withdrawn its proposal to import and burn up to 20,000 tons of highly toxic Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Port Arthur, Texas. When Veolia proposed its plan last year, Sierra Club, CIDA, and numerous other groups and individuals protested the application in comments to the EPA.
“One of the reasons the company withdrew is that
they know it is a new day at the EPA,” said Hilton Kelley CIDA Executive Director. “The people of Port Arthur spoke out, and we had a lot of support for preventing this from going through and we got it stopped. What this means for our area is cleaner air -- there’s
going to be fewer emissions in our air for us to breathe
and it means a safer environment for our kids.”
PCB's are no longer commercially produced in the United States but were used for commercial and industrial purposes including paints, dyes and electrical equipment. Incineration is considered the most dangerous way to dispose of PCBs because the incineration process produces dioxins and furans, the most toxic chemicals known. Safer alternatives are available that do not involve incineration and release of dioxin. Since 1976, federal law under the Toxic Substances Control Act passed by Congress has strictly forbid the importation of PCBs into the United States even for the purposes of disposal.
“This is an awesome sign that the EPA is taking its
role as a protector of public health and the environment
seriously,” said Neil Carman, Sierra Club’s Clean Air Program Director. “The
decision by Veolia reflects the pressure placed on the company
by Sierra Club, our friends at CIDA, and ultimately the scrutiny
brought on by the EPA. We celebrate this victory and most
of all are relieved and happy that the people of Port Arthur
will not suffer this additional pollution.”
Port Arthur, a Gulf Coast community on the Texas border of Louisiana with a high percentage of low-income residents and people of color, has carried a burden of pollution from the concentrated operation there of a large number of oil refineries and chemical plants. In November 2009, the EPA addressed the serious problem of environmental injustice by committing $1 million over the next two years to 10 U.S.
communities, including Port Arthur.
“We’re very excited about the Veolia withdrawal, and we will take a stand in the future against any other industries that are seeking to incinerate PCBs in Port Arthur. We aren’t
going to stand idly by and let companies dump on our community,” said Kelley.