St. John industry talks emissions

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — St. John Industrial leaders held a public forum Wednesday to inform residents, business leaders and a few groups of school kids about emissions levels at various plants within the parish.

Industries that release toxic chemicals into the environment are required by law to announce emissions levels to keep the public informed and industries in St. John annually come together and announce the numbers at the same time.

The meeting becomes an informative event for the public and they usually get involved and ask questions,” said Wally Dows, environmental safety and security manger for Marathon Petroleum Co. in Garyville. “We get the opportunity to explain what we are doing to control and decrease what we release.”

Dows explained that along with Marathon, representatives from Bayou Steel, Nalco, Air Products, Evonik, DuPont and DuPont Performance Elastomers were on hand to provide the public with a Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) that documents emissions released into the air, water and land. It also provides information on quantities of toxic chemicals that are sent off-site for processing at other facilities.

“This is all part of the emergency planning and community right-to-know act (EPCRA), which is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Dows. “Things are continuously added to the list and everything is made public.”

Dows said the meetings, which began in 2000, have grown into a larger event and most of the industries don’t just stick to emissions.

“We talk about taxes, employment opportunities and often take questions from folks who attend,” said Dows. “The only question we got this year pertained to the current state of the economy and how it may affect operations at the plants in the area. It is a concern for all of us because we are all employment hubs in the parish.”

According to reporting data from the meeting, of all of the companies involved only Bayou Steel and DuPont reported slight increases in emissions in 2007.

DuPont, which produces materials that go into making Kevlar vests for police officers, reported a release total of 786,000 pounds, which is up from 729,700 pounds. The increase is a result of higher air and land emissions from the plant over the past year and is attributed to an overall increase in production at the plant.

Bayou Steel reported a release total of 2,278,100 pounds in 2007, which is up from the previous year’s number of 2,702,900. The increase is a direct result of higher air emissions over the past year.

Bayou Steel’s LaPlace Facility is, however, one of the largest recyclers in the state. The company reported that they successfully recycled 1.3 billion pounds of scrap metal in 2007 and the shredder facility, which recycles scrap metal from automobiles and discarded appliances, recycled over 160 million pounds in 2007.

The remaining companies involved in Wednesday’s meeting either stayed steady, or reported an overall decline in emissions from the previous year.

Air Products of Reserve reported an emissions total of 47,400 pounds in 2007, down from 58,000 pounds in 2006. Evonik Industries stayed steady with an emissions total of 5,000 pounds, all air emissions. DuPont Performance Elastomers reported total emissions at 356,700 pounds, which is down from 486,300 pounds in 2006. Nalco Company’s Garyville facility showed an overall decrease of about 58,000 pounds and reported an emissions total of 154,700 pounds in 2007, down from 212,500 in 2006. Marathon Petroleum’s release total stands at 214,100 pounds, which is down from 375,900 pounds in 2006.