The report says vinyl chloride accidents occur frequently

The report says vinyl chloride accidents occur frequently

A new report published by environmental justice organizations finds that once every five days there is an incident in which vinyl chloride, a human carcinogen, is illegally released into the environment in the United States.

The cancer-causing chemical is commonly used in the manufacture of PVC plastic, and made headlines last year after a freight train carrying tanks of vinyl chloride derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Norfolk Southern decided to burn the toxic chemical inside the train just days after it derailed due to fears of tank cars exploding.

Earlier this month, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told Congress that the decision to burn the chemical in a controlled manner at the derailment site was not justified.

Residents of eastern Palestine have ongoing concerns about potential long-term health consequences caused by vinyl chloride and other chemicals spilled from the freight train accident.

But chemical accidents like the Ohio train derailment are not rare at all, according to a report by Beyond Plastics and Earthjustice.

The report said there have been at least 966 reports of chemical incidents involving vinyl chloride since 2010. Most of these incidents occurred at facilities that manufacture and process the toxic chemical.

See more: Derailed: East Palestine, one year later

The number of vinyl chloride manufacturing facilities across the United States has shrunk over the years, but the volume of production has increased dramatically — from 6.8 billion pounds in 1974 to more than 18.6 billion pounds in 2021, the report said. Dozens of facilities operating today In Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky.

While a major concern for communities near these processing facilities, the report highlights the risks of transporting vinyl chloride across the country via rail cars.

There have been at least 29 derailments of train cars carrying the chemical since 1968, nearly half of which resulted in vinyl chloride being released into the environment, the report said.

Beyond Plastics and Earthjustice said they collaborated on the report to submit to the EPA as part of the agency’s public comment period in its ongoing assessment of risks related to the chemical.

The findings were based on information collected from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, chemical data reports, and other reports.

The organizations said they want the EPA to designate vinyl chloride as a high priority chemical under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to phase it out and eventually ban its use.

“Companies expose people to vinyl chloride during every stage of its life cycle. People who work in factories that make vinyl chloride, people who transport the chemical, and communities who live in neighborhoods near factories or railways are particularly vulnerable,” Beyond Plastics and Earthjustice said. At risk of a high exposure accident.

The Vinyl Institute, a trade organization representing vinyl manufacturers, said the byproduct of the chemical is vital for PVC piping used in clean water lines and medical products. He also refutes the claim that the industry causes harm, noting that the industry has made great strides in workplace safety since the 1970s.

The EPA will make a decision on the classification of vinyl chloride, and the four other chemicals it is reviewing, in December.


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