St. John Parish school officials holding public forum on Denka plant emissions

LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - School officials in St. John Parish will join forces with a community group concerned about emissions from an area plant Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency said air readings from two schools show massive levels of a chemical they believe could cause Cancer.

A recent study from the EPA put St. John residents at the highest risk of developing Cancer in the country.

The EPA believes the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in Laplace is solely to blame.

Denka makes a product called neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber used to make wetsuits, athletic gear, medical equipment and products for the military.

Denka is the only neoprene producer in the country, and provides 15 percent of the world's supply.

The process of making neoprene gives off a byproduct called Chloprene, something the EPA has classified as likely to cause Cancer.

Recently, EPA air monitors recorded Chloroprene levels at East St. John High School and Fifth Ward Elementary that were 150 times higher than the EPA's recommended safety standard.

That is why school officials are holding the public meeting Wednesday night at 6 p.m. with the Superintendent at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School.

For its part, Denka released information in January saying it had begun its most significant voluntary emissions reducing project under an 'administrative order on consent' signed with the state's DEQ.

Denka said it's one of four main projects designed to significantly reduce Chloroprene emissions operations at the Laplace facility.

The company says it, alongside the EPA, will monitor the air concentration during the first half of this year to determine the impact and effectiveness of it's reduction efforts.

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