Jan 10, 2017
Baton Rouge - On Jan. 6, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and Denka Performance Elastomer signed a formal document that outlines the company’s voluntary commitment to reduce emissions of the chemical chloroprene. Under the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), emissions reductions devices will be installed on a set schedule, culminating with the installation of the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017.
After EPA reclassified chloroprene as a likely carcinogen, the National Air Toxics Assessment of 2011 showed an elevated risk for certain types of cancer in parts of LaPlace. The findings were published in 2015. The company also agreed to provide written progress reports to LDEQ on a monthly basis tracking the emissions reductions efforts, to conduct ambient air monitoring until six months after the RTO starts up and to acquire all necessary permits for installation and operation of the emissions reduction equipment.
“We expect to see reductions in chloroprene emissions immediately,” LDEQ Secretary Chuck Carr Brown said. “By the time the RTO begins operation, we expect the amount of chloroprene emitted to be reduced substantially. Denka has worked with LDEQ to craft this agreement, voluntarily agreeing to plant modifications that will cost millions of dollars. EPA has provided assistance and guidance through the whole process, and St. John the Baptist Parish government has been a partner from the beginning.
“This agreement is a culmination of that collective effort. It’s a very good beginning, but efforts to lower chloroprene emissions will not end with this AOC. We will continue to monitor and work with the company and our regulatory partners to achieve the maximum reduction possible.”
LDEQ’s regulatory partners also lauded the agreement. “Today is an important milestone in fulfilling our promise to reduce emissions in the community,” EPA Region 6 Administrator Ron Curry said. “Denka is committing to make changes at the LaPlace plant and install long-term pollution controls.”
“Upon review of the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), it is clear that Denka and LDEQ have developed a plan to ensure clean and safe air for the citizens of St. John Parish and to protect the environment,” St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said. “Despite recent challenges and a compressed timeline, I stand assured that the approved plan will achieve the stated goals as established by Dr. Brown and his leadership team. We have been kept abreast of this situation since December of 2015 and anticipate continuing to receive timely information regarding the executed plan, it's progress and any delays in reducing emissions to the stated level.”
Jorge Lavastida, manager of the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in LaPlace said the company is committed to being environmentally responsible.
“Denka Performance Elastomer LLC has been working with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality on a voluntary basis to develop the Administrative Order on Consent. As the next step in our cooperative agreement, we will install a series of measures designed to reduce emissions of chloroprene by 85 percent from the facility’s 2014 baseline chloroprene emissions,” Lavastida said. “While DPE has been in and is in compliance with existing air permits, we have committed $17.5 million for technology and have dedicated a significant amount of personnel resources to this reduction effort to demonstrate our environmental stewardship.
“DPE has worked swiftly and collaboratively with regulatory agencies to evaluate existing processes and try to find ways to lower chloroprene emissions from the facility. The result of this work and collaboration is the lis of emission reduction projects that will be undertaken. DPE has developed and is implementing air monitoring plans and continues to meet with employees and stakeholders including Near Neighbors and its Community Advisory Panel to share information and provide updates. DPE recognizes there are some St. John the Baptist Parish residents who have expressed concerns about the NATA findings, and we want to listen and respond to those concerns. We will continue to be environmentally responsible.
Follow DEQ on social media: