WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has returned the volley in the battle with Denka Performance Elastomer L.L.C. over the neoprene producer's allegedly hazardous chloroprene emissions.
On behalf of the EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint Feb. 28 with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging that Denka, based in St. John the Baptist Parish in LaPlace, La., is a "public health endangerment" for the "carcinogenic air pollution" it is causing.
The complaint, filed under Section 303 of the Clean Air Act, demands that Denka "eliminate the public health endangerment caused by its emissions by greatly reducing the levels of chloroprene to which this community is being exposed."
Further specified mandates are enumerated in a Dec. 22, 2022, consent agreement issued by the EPA to Denka.
"When I visited Saint John the Baptist Parish during my first Journey to Justice tour, I pledged to the community that EPA would take strong action to protect the health and safety of families from harmful chloroprene pollution from the Denka facility," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Feb. 28. "This complaint filed against Denka delivers on that promise."
In a March 3 email to Rubber News, Denka disputed the "unprecedented, politically motivated allegations of community endangerment," and the Japan-based firm continues its call for "sound science" in emission measurement.
"Denka Performance Elastomer strongly disagrees with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to file a lawsuit claiming that the company's St. John the Baptist Parish neoprene facility's permitted chloroprene emissions pose 'an imminent and substantial endangerment' to its community," the company said. "EPA's allegations in the lawsuit directly contradict the agency's own prior statements, years of reliable health data relating to St. John the Baptist Parish where the facility is located, comprehensive studies regarding workers in the U.S. chloroprene industry showing no connection between chloroprene and cancer and the best available science on the potential risks of chloroprene."