The Alliance For A Clean Environment
Printable Version

DEP Public Hearing Testimony - January 31, 2001
Occidental Chemical Title V Public Hearing
Donna Cuthbert - Pottstown, PA

What happened here did NOT happen by chance. Hazardous air releases by polluting industries like Occidental, are contaminating our life support systems. Residents have no choice. We must breathe in all the poisons spewed into our air. There can be no doubt that our toxic air is a major factor in our alarming illness patterns. Health based federal standards say we are in a severe non-attainment zone. Reason enough for DEP to require reductions, but there are many more. We breathe air in the top 10% of the nation for cancer causing emissions and just look at these corresponding cancer statistics.

We can not inhale millions of pounds of extremely toxic air emissions every year and not have our bodies break down day by day. Too many people in our community are suffering on a daily basis from far more than the devastation of cancer. Asthma, chronic sinus conditions, headaches, dizziness, and other flu like symptoms are also signs of toxic exposure and are far too common here. Diabetes, liver and kidney disease all seem commonplace in this area. Far too many of our children have ADD and learning disabilities. Short-term memory loss is common for many, including young people.

Every year Occidental poisons our air with enormous amounts of chemicals, which are known and suspected to cause serious health problems. Facts are readily available. There is no where to hide on this one. Yet, once again we are forced to defend ourselves because DEP is not protecting us. You are willing to allow business as usual and even provide increases. What is wrong with this picture?

Occidental tells us they have reduced emissions. How relevant is that to those of us breathing their emissions when they are CURRENTLY one of the largest polluters of the most dangerous chemicals in a county with extremely unhealthy air and people. What were they emitting? That's a frightening thought. Ironically, their most HARMFUL cancer-causing emissions have INCREASED in the past 2 years and the most dangerous of all is not even evaluated.

Just in 1998 Occidental emitted more vinyl chloride than any other facility in the nation. VINYL CHLORIDE is the #1 cancer causing chemical in this county that has severely elevated cancers. VINYL CHLORIDE has been found to be 10 to 20 times higher than EPA's health benchmarks in Montgomery County with Oxy the only listed emitter. DEP should be ashamed to even consider a 5-year permit, which allows Occidental to emit far more VINYL CHLORIDE than it currently emits. What is wrong with this picture? We need and deserve REDUCTIONS in this 5-year permit, BELOW ACTUAL VINYL CHLORIDE emissions.

DIOXIN comes from Occidental's PVC production and is a terrifying chemical, which affects the unborn causing birth defects, immune system damage, ADD and hyperactivity. It is also a potent carcinogen. DIOXIN accumulates in our body fat, never leaves our bodies, and causes all this damage in tiny amounts. Why isn't such a health threat part of Occidental's 5-year air permit to pollute? This doesn't make any sense when the whole world knows the dangers of DIOXIN.

Entire communities have been evacuated because of DIOXIN. How could Occidental or the government afford to relocate the thousands of residents who live near Occidental? There is only one solution. Occidental needs to start using less dangerous alternatives. Occidental would then be the responsible care company it claims to be. The choice is simple - Our children's health or Corporate Profit. What about jobs over health - Are tens of thousands of people to be slowly poisoned by Occidental's chemicals so that 300 can have jobs? What kind of a choice is that?

Besides Vinyl Chloride and DIOXIN, Occidental fills our air with millions of pounds of dangerous 'criteria' air pollutants each year. They also cause serious health harm. Still, DEP has NOT required REDUCTIONS in this 5 year permit and would allow deceptive "DeMinimis" emissions INCREASES to millions of pounds each year. What is wrong with this picture?

Self monitoring and reporting provide no assurances for our safety either. Occidental's numerous accidental releases are a good example. DEP takes Occidental's word on accidental emissions. An accident reported on a Thursday was not investigated by DEP until the following Tuesday. Oxy told DEP there was no problem. Who could prove otherwise at that late date? This company is using deadly chemicals and there are no checks and balances for public protection. We must have continuous perimeter monitoring by DEP, paid by the polluter.

DEP needs to remove or change any part of this permit which would allow Occidental to triple hazardous emissions by burning toxic landfill gas as fuel. Burning landfill gas would produce more DIOXIN and include radiation. How could people directly exposed, survive this added hazardous burden to their air?

Common sense and logic must prevail. We need a toxic turnaround. DEP must take protection action NOW with this 5-year Title V permit for Occidental Chemical. Promises or good intentions by Mr. Dorko and Mr. Shirey, nice people who want to help, are not good enough to protect our children. They work for a gigantic chemical company that poisons our air, whose priority is huge CEO salaries and shareholder profits, not our health and safety. We want written guarantees of SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS in this permit.

DEP for once look at the whole picture. Apply the Precautionary Principle. DENY INCREASES and REQUIRE REDUCTIONS in order to protect our health and all those downwind.

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

disclaimer  |  privacy policy  |  home  |  back to top  |  feedback  |
|  donate online  |  contents  |  contact us  |  join  |  contact web master  |