Feb 08, 2022

EPA Announces Enforcement Actions to Address Air & Water Pollution in Disadvantaged Communities

The agency will conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites that are believed to be polluting air and water.

industrial water and air pollution

The EPA announced a series of enforcement actions to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other issues impacting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states.

This action follows a “Journey to Justice” tour by Administrator Michael Regan, reported AP News.

According to EPA, the agency will conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites that are believed to be polluting air and water, reported AP News.

Additionally, EPA will install air monitoring equipment in Louisiana’s chemical corridor, making way for harsher enforcement at chemical and plastics plants between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. AP News reports that this particular area contains several hotspots where cancer risks exceed national levels.

Inspections generally occur on a schedule or with advance notice, according to Regan, but this will not be the case anymore, according to AP News. 

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“We are amping up our aggressiveness to utilize a tool that’s in our toolbox that...has been there for quite some time,″ said Regan, reported AP News.

The goal, according to Regan on a conference call, is for the unannounced inspections of chemical plants and other sites to keep these facilities on their toes.

Additionally, a pilot project combining high-tech air pollution monitoring with additional inspectors will begin in three Louisiana parishes (St. John the Baptist, St. James and Calcasieu), which house scores of industrial sites dealing with water and air pollution.

EPA is also requiring a former DuPont petrochemical plant in La Place, Louisiana, to install fence-line monitors to identify emissions from the site, according to Regan, reported AP News. 

The agency also wants to reevaluate a proposed expansion of a Formosa Plastics plant in St. James and has issued a notice of violation to a Nucor Steel plant, which emits hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals.

Regan has also connected with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell about Gordon Plaza, a city neighborhood built on the site of a former toxic landfill. The EPA will review this site in March, and city officials want to use money from the infrastructure law to relocate families and build a solar farm on the site. Additionally, EPA also completed a review of proposed actions to clean up creosote contamination from a site in Houston which is in the Kashmere Gardens area in the city’s Fifth Ward, reported AP News.

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