Occidental Chemical - Five Year Air Permit
January 31st 2001, DEP held a public hearing concerning Occidental’s HAZARDOUS AIR EMISSIONS at Occidental Chemical for the next five years. Many presented testimony to try to protect us, including Congressmen Holden and Hoeffel, Pottstown Mayor Anne Jones, Councilman Ron Downie, Physicians Dr. Fred Winter, Dr. Charles Vickerman, and Dr. Jean Flood and many concerned residents. It was a banner event to protect public health in our area. ACE thanks each person who had the courage and caring to speak out to protect us, those who attended in support, the many people who sent in written testimony to DEP after the hearing, and those who sent letters to the editor.
ACE presented written testimony documenting the need for Occidental to reduce its vinyl chloride emissions over the next 5 years, and for DEP to deny increases in ‘Criteria’ air emissions. We requested continuous perimeter air monitoring because this 5-year permit will allow Oxy to monitor, test, calculate, and report its own emissions data.
It appears Occidental’s public relations tactic after the hearing was a campaign to try to discredit ACE information. What else could they do? But our facts about Oxy’s hazardous emissions came from their own data. Health effects of chemicals emitted came from EPA, ATSDR, and NIOSH, all government agencies. Our shocking cancer statistics came from the Montgomery County Health Department, CDC website, and the PA Cancer Registry.
Oxy workers were obviously told ACE is trying to shut down the plant, which is not true. We are concerned for their health and safety. We believe if the company would be up front with its employees about the dangers of vinyl chloride and dioxin by-products, the workers would be more serious in taking better measures to protect themselves while at work.
ACE is trying to protect the health of the 31,000 residents and all the children who attend all the schools too close to Oxy’s dangerous air emissions and also those who work too close to Oxy’s emissions, including Pottstown Hospital employees just ˝ mile away. These people have no choice. They must breathe all the hazardous emissions Occidental spews into our air over the next five years, in addition to all those coming from the Pottstown Landfill.
Too many people are already too sick in our community. It is time to take precaution and reduce our risks. Oxy keeps referring to their percentages of reduced emissions. When we examine what Oxy will still emit into our air, that is little comfort or protection. Just add up all Oxy’s future proposed air emissions in the five-year permit, (add vinyl chloride to their other hazardous chemicals, then add those to the ‘criteria air emissions, add the DeMinimis ‘criteria emissions), then evaluate what all of that could do to the health of an already sick community. If that is not enough, consider the fact that DIOXIN, the most dangerous threat, is not even measured or considered in this permit. We need morality and common sense, rather than industry statistics and PR.
We believe if Occidental was the responsible care company it claims to be. it would do the following to protect the people in our community, as well as its workers.
1. Oxy would withdraw from the Pottstown Landfill gas pipeline project. Why should all the people, including the thousands of children in that area, be subjected to tripled hazardous air emissions, a third source of dioxin, and a second source of radiation just for Oxy to save money by burning Pottstown Landfill’s toxic gas?
2. Oxy would agree to phase out the use of Vinyl Chloride and PVC production. These are potent cancer-causing agents and we have far too many documented seriously elevated cancers. It is only a matter of time before the demand for PVC will decline because of its documented threat to human health.
3. Oxy would agree to change over its production to safer alternatives, which would show caring for the people in our community and ensure jobs for Oxy workers far into the future. Oxy claims it can not afford to change over, but we can not afford for them not to change.
4. Oxy would agree that until a phasing out of PVC could be achieved, they would not emit any more than their last reported emissions of vinyl chloride in 1999 of 130,000 pounds. This would not even require a reduction in their production.
5. Oxy would agree to no increases of ‘Criteria’ air emissions in the proposed Title V permit. NO “DeMinimis” emission increases.
6. Oxy would agree to pay for continuous perimeter monitoring to include dioxin.
There is no doubt that Vinyl Chloride is an extremely dangerous cancer-causing chemical. Vinyl Chloride is also a suspected cardiovascular or blood toxicant, developmental, gastrointestinal, liver, reproductive, respiratory, skin or sense organ toxicant and a neurotoxicant.
Is there any doubt that Oxy has emitted far too much Vinyl Chloride already? Vinyl Chloride has been found to be 10 to 20 times EPA’s health benchmarks in many parts of Montgomery County. Oxy in Pottstown is the only known emitter. Vinyl Chloride is the #1 cancer risk in Montgomery County, a county with staggering elevated cancer statistics according to the PA Cancer Registry.
While Oxy keeps pointing to reduced emissions, we wonder if they forgot Vinyl Chloride. From 1997 to 1999, Oxy increased its Vinyl Chloride emissions by 10,000 pounds.
During that same time, Oxy almost tripled its emissions of Acetaldehyde, another cancer-causing chemical. These are Toxic Release Inventory statistics reported by Oxy.
- For more about Oxy’s hazardous emissions, visit Environmental Defense Scorecard at:
www.scorecard.org/env-releases/. Type Occidental Chemical into the search line.
- For information about the attempt by the chemical industry to cover-up the health risks of exposure to hazardous chemicals, especially Vinyl Chloride, visit:
www.pbs.org then go to Trade Secrets
For names of companies and secret documents - www.ewg.org
For Children’s Chemical Exposures - www.childenvironment.org
You Can Still View “Trade Secrets” - A video documentary on the chemical industry by Bill Moyers, featuring vinyl chloride, by contacting ACE
Or call 1(800) 336-1917 to purchase for $29.95
Share this exposé with your family, friends, and neighbors
P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464
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