Lake Charles Sasol Complex called #2 “Super Polluter” in the nation

Updated: Feb. 28, 2020 at 9:22 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -A new report says of the nation’s 100 biggest air toxics polluters, the Sasol complex of Lake Charles ranks number two.

The rankings are based on data industries are required to self-report each year, known as the Toxics Release Inventory. The report is based on the most recent data available, which is from 2018.

But officials at Sasol say the report is wrong and not based on proper analyses.

The report is by the watchdog group “Environmental Integrity Project” for United Church of Christ. It’s called the “Breath to the People” report, referring to scripture, as the church argues that pollution is a moral issue. (Isaiah 42:406)

Longtime environmentalist Mike Tritico, who founded the group RESTORE (Restore Environmental Symmetry to Our Ravaged Earth,) believes what Sasol releases into the air is bad for people and the planet:

“To release over 200 tons a year of toxic molecules into Calcasieu Parish air is not good. That means the people in the area are breathing a lot of poison. In addition to that, they release 800,000 tons of greenhouse gases,” said Tritico.

According to the report, the top three chemicals Sasol releases are ethylene oxide, benzene and chlorine. No one from Sasol would appear on camera, but in a strongly worded statement, Sasol’s Kim Cusimano says numbers in the report are wrong and that TRI data was used incorrectly.

“Protecting public health and the environment requires using data in the correct way. Unfortunately, the “Breath to the People” report fails to do so. In fact, the report uses EPA data in precisely the way the EPA advises not to use its data,” she said.

Cusimano says EPA guidance says not to draw conclusions or evaluate risk based on yearly toxic release data.

“For example, the report appears to overlay the EPA Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RESI) to claim its identification of “some chemicals containing more potent toxins than others,” she said.

“However, the EPA makes clear that you cannot make assumptions based on RESI, and that “all RESI results should be followed up with additional analysis before drawing conclusions or making decisions about the potential risk posed to any particular population.” The ‘Breath to the People’ report lacks any of this additional analysis that the EPA recommends,” said Cusimano.

“The Agency goes on to say that “the presence of a chemical in the environment must be evaluated along with the potential and actual exposures and the route of exposures, the chemical’s fate in the environment and other factors before any statements can be made about potential risks associated with the chemical or a release. Again, this evaluation is absent from the ‘Breath to the People’ report,” said Cusimano.

Still Tritico hopes the report will do some good and he agrees that exposure to communities is and should be a moral issue.

“In Revelation it says that the Creator is going to bring to ruin those who are ruining the earth, but that doesn’t mean in the meantime we don’t have some type of responsibility to stand up for what’s right. We’re supposed to stand up for his beautiful creation and our fellow man,” said Tritico.

The report makes recommendations including that federal and state authorities should target top polluters with environmental enforcement to reduce emissions.

Sasol’s Cusimano also says clean air and a healthy environment are important to everyone.

“Sasol holds itself to the highest standards of environmental, health and safety protection. This is evident in our compliance with all applicable U.S. and state environmental laws and regulations, as well as our investment in best available emissions control technology,” said Cusimano.

“We support good public policy driven by sound science and rigorous data analysis and application – precisely the opposite of what is found in the ‘Breath to the People’ report,” she said.

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