Air of Uncertainty: Manufacturing plant completes $30 million emissions reduction effort

Air of Uncertainty: Manufacturing plant completes $30 million emissions reduction effort

LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - A manufacturing plant singled out by the federal government for possibly causing cancer has completed a nearly $30 million upgrade to reduce emissions of the chemical chloroprene.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies chloroprene as a likely carcinogen.

At the beginning of last year, Denka Performance Elastomers in Laplace volunteered to reduce its chloroprene emissions by 85 percent after the EPA said emissions coming from the plant put the people who live and work in the area at the highest risk of developing cancer in the nation.

Denka officials dispute the EPA's claim and says the federal government is using incorrect data to determine the cancer risks involved in chloroprene.

"We are pleased to have completed installation and started operation of all of our emission reduction projects," said Jorge Lavastida, Denka plant manager. "Our voluntary emissions reduction plan represents Denka's commitment to our community. We have followed through on a promise made to our neighbors, employees and the state of Louisiana. I want to congratulate our many employees and contractors who committed their time over the last year to making these four projects a reality."

Denka expects significant reductions in ambient concentrations of chloroprene measured at air monitors surrounding the plant.

Residents sued Denka over its chloroprene emissions, and attorneys for the residents say traces of chloroprene have been found in people's system.

Denka attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming the residents had no proof chloroprene has caused any health issues in humans.

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