PIRG submitted more than 11,000 public comments in support of a proposed EPA rule to reduce pollution from chemical plants. The proposal would cover around 200 chemical plants and eliminate an estimated 6,000 pounds of toxic air pollution annually. That includes reducing pollution from a chemical called ethylene oxide, commonly used in medical sterilization plants, by as much as two-thirds below 2020 levels. Long-term exposure to ethylene oxide can increase the risk of lymphoma and breast cancer.
The EPA’s proposal would require chemical plants to report when and how much certain toxic substances they release end up crossing beyond their property lines.
And if a plant fails to keep its pollution below the established limit? It must fix the problem or risk legal action. In particular, affected citizens would be able to sue to reduce the threat.
That could be transformative for communities such as one in Louisiana where an elementary school sits a half-mile from a plant that emits chloroprene, which the EPA considers a likely carcinogen.
EPA will consider these public comments before issuing its final rule.