BATON ROUGE (CN) – Environmentalists say ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge chemical plant spews thousands of pounds of dangerous pollutants into the air in violation of the Environmental Quality Act. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network says Exxon’s Maintrain Ethylene facilities do not hold permits allowing emission of propylene, ethylene or flammable vapors.
Some air contaminants can be emitted only by permit. The plaintiffs say that on three occasions in June 2008, all three hazardous chemicals -propylene, ethylene and flammable vapors – were released into the air – nearly 2 tons of them.
Since May 2008, Exxon has emitted more than 89,700 pounds of other pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, according to the complaint in East Baton Rouge Parish Court.
Exxon reported much of the pollution as “leak” incidents, or failures in its pollution control devices that the plaintiffs say would not occur if Exxon’s facilities were in proper working order.
Among the leaks reported, one was active for at least 22 days, emitting at least 525 pounds of benzene, a carcinogen.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) react with oxygen and sunlight to form ozone. Ozone can cause breathing difficulties, including asthma and susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as permanent lung damage. Many VOCs are associated with cancer.
Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and civil penalties. They are represented by Adam Babich with the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic of New Orleans.