Denka announces LaPlace plan for reducing chloroprene emissions

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Denka Performance Elastomer (DPE) announced (Tuesday afternoon) it is instituting a series of technical measures aimed at reducing emissions of chloroprene from its LaPlace facility.

“DPE has been and is in compliance with existing air permits,” Plant Manager Jorge Lavastida said. “We will voluntarily install a series of measures designed to reduce emissions of chloroprene by 85 percent. DPE’s commitment to excellence in environmental stewardship is demonstrated by its committing a large portion of financial and personnel resources to emission reduction.

“We are working with the EPA and LDEQ to reduce emissions of this compound.”

Actions outlined in the announcement include:

  • DPE will install a modification at the Neoprene Unit to route emissions from the Poly Kettles Vent Condenser to an additional vent condenser which will operate in series with the existing equipment. This project is scheduled for completion and startup in early February. DPE has already received permission from LDEQ to begin construction.
  • DPE will install a new vacuum pump and brine condenser on the Chloroprene Refining Column, replacing an older vacuum system. This project is scheduled for completion and startup in second quarter 2017. DPE has already received permission from LDEQ to begin construction.
  • DPE will install more than 1,200 feet of pipe to route process vents in the monomer area to the HCl unit for removal by combustion. This project is expected to be online in late third quarter, 2017.
  • DPE will install a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) to remove much of the remaining chloroprene emissions from the site. DPE’s parent company Denka Co. Ltd. has reliably operated similar devices in Japan for many years. This major project is expected to come online by the end of 2017.

In 2010, chloroprene, a substance used in the manufacture of neoprene, was reclassified a likely carcinogen by the EPA, and in December 2015, EPA released the 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment map which showed a high risk for cancer in and around what was the DuPont facility for the period of the study and is now the DPE facility.

Regulators from the EPA and LDEQ have worked with the company since that time to find ways to reduce emissions from the plant.

Ron Curry, EPA Region 6 Administrator, LDEQ Secretary Chuck Carr Brown and St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom praised the company for its willingness and aggressive approach to improving its emissions profile.

“EPA remains committed to our promise to the community and local leaders to bring the best science and transparency as we work to protect the people we serve,” Curry said. “We will continue to conduct air monitoring throughout 2017 and share data with the Louisiana officials, local leaders, DPE and most importantly – the community.”

Brown said this is a good start.

“We’re working with EPA, St. John Parish and Denka Performance Elastomer to ensure we protect human health and the environment,” Brown said. “The changes DPE has committed to make are estimated to reduce chloroprene emissions by 85 percent. These changes are being done voluntarily and in consultation with EPA and LDEQ and should all be in place within the next 14 months. Air monitoring will continue at the facility during and after the installation of these measures.”

Robottom said the Parish is pleased with the progress DPE is making and have been assured they are working closely with LDEQ and EPA on their long range plan.

DPE acquired the LaPlace facility Nov. 1, 2015 and has operated the company for one year. The company was expressly formed to purchase the Neoprene business from DuPont, which had operated these units since 1973.