Chemical plant threatens to shut down if EPA restrictions don’t change


Synthetic rubber manufacturer Denka Performance Elastomer says it will be forced to shutter its plant in St. John the Baptist Parish if EPA restrictions aren’t relaxed. The EPA initially gave over 200 industrial plants two years to reduce emissions, but later changed just Denka’s deadline to 90 days. Louisiana Chemical Association President Greg Bowser says that’s an impossible task, adding, “there’s no way they [Denka] can comply in 90 days. Not just them, I don’t think there’s any facility that could meet the qualifications, the specifications in 90 days.”

The EPA says the 90-day rule is needed because Denka poses an “imminent and substantial danger” to nearby communities in Reserve. They won’t consider extending the deadline until Denka sets out some sort of emissions reduction plan. However, Bowser think it’s more political than this.

“It could very well be because Denka, who is in a dispute with them [the EPA] over something else, that they’re questioning the EPA on. And the EPA is retaliating and saying, ‘well, we’ll make you do this,‘” Bowser says.

Local advocacy group Rise St. James celebrates the potential closure because they say Denka is poisoning people in Reserve. Bowser says Rise St. James doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

“That’s how they make money,” he says. “The government pays them as long as they say that kind of stuff. I think they need to come up with the science and… and prove that.”

Earlier this week, Denka told a federal appeals court that adhering to the shorter deadline is impossible and would likely force the plant to shut down permanently.


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