LOUISIANA LAWMAKER SENDS EPA LETTER REGARDING AIR QUALITY TESTING IN BLACK COMMUNITIES NEAR CHEMICAL PLANT

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[Environmental Racism\Air Quality]
Congressman Cedric Richmond: "Louisiana has been disproportionately affected by the detrimental environmental effects of plant emissions...I am requesting that a community meeting be convened to explain the new air quality monitoring program. Considering the community’s lack of trust in Denka, they must be able to trust the accuracy and results of this change."
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Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Ken McQueen and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown addressing the new air quality data collection system for the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in LaPlace, Louisiana:

“I write to commend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to implement a new air quality data collection system for the Denka Performance Elastomer plant and to reiterate the importance of closely monitoring dangerously high chloroprene emissions moving forward,” said Rep. Richmond. “Louisiana has long been an economic engine for the country due to its geography and vast natural resources. Products manufactured in Louisiana are used by companies across the globe and spur economic growth across the country. Many of these goods are produced in plants located along the Mississippi River and play an integral role in bolstering the State’s economy, as well as creating good-paying jobs for our residents. However, with that production comes adverse consequences that must be addressed to protect the safety of river parish communities.

“As a result of such a heavy concentration of production, Louisiana has been disproportionately affected by the detrimental environmental effects of plant emissions. While economic vitality is important, it cannot ignore the reality of deteriorating air quality and the health risks it poses. For far too many years, people in communities along the Mississippi River have repeatedly expressed these very concerns which has prompted the federal government to intervene in the absence of action.

“With the recent announcement of a new phase of air monitoring around the Denka facility, I am requesting that a community meeting be convened to explain the new air quality monitoring program. Considering the community’s lack of trust in Denka, they must be able to trust the accuracy and results of this change. Providing such a forum will give community stakeholders an opportunity to get the answers they deserve. Specifically, it is imperative for them to know what this new data collection practice is expected to achieve and what next steps will be taken moving forward.

“I believe that continued monitoring and engagement on this issue will benefit the people of Louisiana and facilitate dialogue and action in the interest of improved environmental and public health outcomes.”

The Denka Performance Elastomer plant, once owned by DuPont, has been accused of polluting the surrounding majority Black community, with chloroprene emissions, for decades.

According to a report by The University Network for Human Rights, the "EPA’s 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), released in December 2015, seemed to confirm many residents’ suspicions. According to the most recent NATA, the risk of developing cancer from air pollution in the census tract closest to the Denka neoprene facility is nearly 50 times the national average due to emissions of chloroprene, classified by the EPA as a 'likely human carcinogen.”

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