Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
August 24, 2005


Broad coalition, thousands of citizens, unified in pushing EPA for
strong protections

Washington, D.C. -- A broad coalition of conservation and public
health groups and environmental justice organizations, along with over
8,400 citizen activists from across the country, today sent letters
to the Environmental Protection Agency calling upon Administrator
Stephen Johnson to propose rules that will significantly reduce toxic
air pollution from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) facilities.

"We've lived near these plants and have seen how harmful they can be
to our environment and our health," said Edgar Mouton, President of
Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN), a Louisiana-based
environmental justice group. "This is a chance for EPA to involve all
of us who are forced to breathe this dirty air, and draft a rule that
really does something to protect our health."

The letter signed by health, environmental justice and conservation
groups calls upon EPA to propose a rule that reduces toxic chemicals
from PVC facilities. Also, as of today, 8,475 citizens sent emails to
Administrator Johnson, calling for stronger protections against toxic
chemical releases from PVC manufacturing and hold meetings in
communities where PVC plants are located.

EPA's previous rule -- vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit in April 2005 -- did not require any
reduction at all in PVC plants' toxic emissions. Instead it allowed
PVC plants to continue to rely upon 1970's-era control technologies to
control pollution. EPA acknowledged that, with only these controls,
emissions from PVC plants "may reasonably be anticipated to result in
an increase in mortality or an increase in serious, irreversible, or
incapacitating reversible illness." While EPA does not record total
emissions of the 27 PVC plants nationwide, state permits show
individual facilities are emitting as much as between seven and thirty
tons of vinyl chloride each year, as well as vast quantities of other
hazardous air pollutants.

"As a physician practicing occupational and environmental medicine, I
provide health consultations to people who are exposed to the type of
toxic pollution released by PVC facilities. The potential for damage
to the health of people and the environment from the chemicals used in
PVC production is profound," said Professor Peter Orris, Chief
Scientist of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University
of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago. "EPA should pay particular
attention to protecting communities in the vicinity of PVC production
plants from the serious health effects of this activity."

The groups also called upon EPA to include affected communities in
discussions preceding the new emission standards. "Before issuing its
decision to leave the inadequate 1970's-era emission standards
unchanged, EPA met repeatedly with vinyl industry representatives,"
the letter states. "EPA met by telephone with representatives of the
Vinyl Institute on January 14, 1999, and met in person with
representatives of the Vinyl Institute on March 4, 1999, which was
followed by yet another meeting in person on March 21, 2000. After
issuing its proposed decision, but before issuing its final decision,
EPA met again with representatives of the Vinyl Institute on November
7, 2001. But EPA did not meet once with representatives of the
communities affected by PVC plant emissions."

"Vinyl chloride is only one of the many toxic pollutants emitted by
PVC plants," said Monique Harden, an attorney with Advocates for
Environmental Human Rights. "A federal judge and the people living
near these PVC plants agreed that EPA did a poor job of regulating
these toxic emissions. It's time EPA lived up to its name and started
protecting us."

A June 2004 court decision in a case brought by Sierra Club and MEAN,
represented by Earthjustice, vacated EPA's previous rule. That rule
offered no protection against the bouquet of toxic chemicals emitted
in PVC production. EPA asked their previous rule be returned for
revision or further explanation. Instead, in April 2005, the court
affirmed its decision to throw out the rule entirely. The court's
decision requires EPA to write a new PVC rule from scratch.

"It's not that often that anyone gets a second chance to correct a
mistake," said Marti Sinclair, National Air Toxics Chairperson for the
Sierra Club. "We all hope EPA does the right thing and proposes a rule
that considers the harmful effects of these facilities and does
something about it."

Groups signing on to the letter include: MEAN (LA); Sierra Club;
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (LA); Center for
Constitutional Rights (NY); Greenpeace; Justice Resource Center (KY);
Healthy Building Network (DC); Center for Health, Environment and
Justice (NY); Center for Environmental Justice (GA); Calhoun County
Resource Watch (TX); West County Toxic Coalition (CA); People for
Community Recovery (IL); REACT (KY): Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists (MI); Global Community Monitor (CA).

There are six PVC plants in Louisiana; one plant each in
Mississippi, California, Florida, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania;
five plants in Texas; four plants in New Jersey; three plants in
Delaware; two plants in Illinois; and two plants in Kentucky. A list
of these facility locations is available at


Monique Harden, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (504)

Marti Sinclair, Sierra Club (513) 761-6140, x28

Edgar Mouton, Jr., Mossville Environmental Action Network (337)

Jared Saylor, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500, x235

To speak with local activists in Louisiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, and
California, contact Jared Saylor at Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500,