Air of uncertainty: EPA answers citizens questions regarding change in air monitoring

St. John Denka Meeting

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - People with air quality concerns gathered in St. John Parish for a meeting with the EPA on Feb. 11.

The EPA is changing the air monitoring systems around the Denka-Dupont plant.

The EPA announced the beginning of this year that they intend to change how they monitor chloroprene around the Denka DuPont plant. But when it hit Q&A, one of the attorneys representing St. John citizens suing the plant had some direct questions for the EPA rep on his emails with the plant manager.

Since May 2016, the EPA has been collecting samples at 6 air monitoring stations around the plant via air canisters.

Denka-Dupont has invested in mitigation technologies. According to the plant and verified by the EPA, they've been able to reduce chloroprene emissions by 86 percent.

However, data still shows chloroprene spikes in the community, but scientists haven’t been able to find a clear pattern as to why or when.

That’s why the EPA plans to replace the air canisters with spods at those six stations, but plan to make the changeover gradually.

"EPA has to work in the parameters they're given under the laws that they're regulated by they'll instate some new air collection operations but it's not moving fast enough,” resident Margarete Fiedler said.

However, residents and experts in the audience were quick to point out their concerns that the spods don't directly detect chloroprene, and they have doubts about the new technology and how it will help.

Citizens had a lot of questions for the EPA Regional Administrator and the meeting lasted more than 2 hours.

"It's sad Genocide taking us out day after day this is not right it's not right and needs to change needs to change now,” Sylvia McKenzie with the Coalition against Death Valley said.

Overall people at today's meeting say they're glad to be more informed but are still wary about what it will accomplish.

Gray says the other compounds in the air will help trigger the new air monitoring devices spods and says the continuous air canisters will still be in place the first few months.

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