Residents express concern after city alters pollution restrictions for Rubbertown plant
It was a partial win for American Synthetic Rubber (ASR), and many in the community aren't happy.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some Louisville Metro Council members say the city is sending a message that black lives don't matter.
It stems from a decision concerning a Rubbertown plant and its pollution output.
It was a partial win for American Synthetic Rubber Company (ASRC), and many in the community aren't happy. There was disappointment and anger after the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) issued its final ruling about the company.
ASRC had wanted the district to significantly raise the amount of cancer-causing Butadiene it's allowed to release.
"Do black lives and poor lives in west Louisville not matter?" asked Louisville Metro Council member Mary Woolridge. "I think they do. I am not a happy camper, and the folks that I serve in west Louisville and southwest Louisville, they are upset."
The APCD decided it will not allow the company to nearly double the Butadiene coming from the company's flare stack, but it will allow the company to
modify what's called "fugitive emissions." Instead of a goal of one in 1 million, it's now three in 1 million.
"This has been a misunderstanding in the community," said APCD Director Keith Talley Sr. "It doesn't mean we're allowing ARSC to, from this point forward, to release more, to release three, what it is, they've been lowering -- they are down to three -- and their goal is to push down."
"Louisville's STAR regulations, which are more rigorous than federal EPA standards, have helped to significantly improve air quality for Rubbertown neighbors and our larger community, with overall air toxics dropping 53 percent," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
"The APCD and this administration has continued what they've always done, which is pacify the chemical industry at the expense of people who live in southwest Louisville," said resident Eboni Cochran.
As for concerned residents who are not happy about the decision, Talley tried to offer encouragement.
"I completely understand," he said. "That's a community that suffered a long time for much higher toxic releases in their community and STAR was written to address that."
ASRC send out a press release. It says, in part, "American Synthetic Rubber Company’s request for modification of its emission goals under Louisville’s Strategic Toxic Air Reduction program was substantially approved by the Air Pollution Control District today."
"ASRC respects the District’s decision, which adheres to the legal requirements under the STAR program and maintains appropriate safeguards for the community," said Guillaume Coiraton, plant manager for ASRC, in a statement. "The District’s decision also recognizes that the facility fully complies with all plant-wide goals for total emissions under STAR regulations. ASRC considers the health of its employees and residents in the community as its highest priority, and we will continue our efforts to reduce actual emissions every day."
Councilwomen Mary Woolridge and Jessica Green say they are upset with the mayor and want it to be known.
"If you are not for my people -- the people that I serve, the neighborhood that I live in -- I am not for you," Green said.
"I encourage the public to make their voices heard," said Woolridge. "I want you to call APCD. We need to hear you loud and clear. We need to call the mayor."
Some council members question if this decision would have happened in a richer area of town..
"What does this mean for people who are concerned with the toxic chemicals?" asked Talley. "Again, I can't emphasize enough the incredible level of reduction taking place in the toxic emissions from Rubbertown, over 90 percent."
Both sides have 30 days to appeal -- but ASRC says it does not plan to appeal.
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