Monday, July 2, 2007

PA enviro groups sue over TCE emissions

Penn Future and the Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit today in federal appeals court, claiming the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to protect citizens against harmful health effects of the industrial uses of such solvents as perc (perchloroethylene) and TCE (trichloroethylene).

The groups are being represented by the public interest law firm, EarthJustice, which is based in Oakland, CA.

In a news release, the groups linked two industrial firms--Superior Tube and Accellent--to higher than normal levels of TCE in the Collegeville, PA area and blamed the EPA for backtracking on a previous decision to regulate the use of the solvent.

The PA-DEP has confirmed the TCE findings and is negotiating with Superior Tube over voluntary reductions. The company has proposed two projects that DEP said "should produce a 30-percent decrease in TCE emissions this year." A public hearing on the company's air permit is scheduled for August 8.

The environmentalists apparently are not impressed by the state's response.

“Hundreds of our 10,000 area members are put at risk by these emissions,” said Dennis Winters, Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Group. “We are not surprised that the EPA has not acted to protect Montgomery County residents living around these facilities, but we expect more from our own Department of Environmental Protection.”

That criticism, however, appears harsh, considering the fact that the state DEP, on May 17, beat the enviros to federal court, with a petition challenging the controversial EPA rule that exempted the two local companies, and other narrow tube manufacturers, from new EPA standards requiring reductions in TCE emissions in many other industries.

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