The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into a consent agreement with Denka Performance Elastomer, LLC and issued a final order to address certain waste management practices at the company’s facility in LaPlace, Louisiana. Denka failed to make an appropriate hazardous waste determination for poly kettle strainer waste, a chloroprene waste generated from the manufacturing of neoprene, which is used to create products such as wetsuits, gaskets, hoses, and adhesives. EPA has classified chloroprene as a likely carcinogen. This waste contributes to emissions of chloroprene from the plant.
EPA conducted on-site inspections of the facility in April and May 2022, and observed Denka’s process of transferring poly kettle strainer waste to an outside, open-air brine pit. During this process, EPA inspectors documented elevated chloroprene concentrations in the air in the vicinity of the brine pit. Pursuant to the consent agreement, beginning January 31, 2023, Denka will stop placing this waste stream in its open-air brine pit and instead meet hazardous waste regulatory requirements for both storage and ultimate disposal of the waste. Denka must also consider EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool when choosing disposal facilities, and must consider using low-emission vehicles when transporting waste for disposal. The company must also provide protective equipment to employees who handle poly kettle strainer waste.
The terms of the consent agreement also require Denka to manage the poly kettle strainer waste as hazardous waste until a more robust sampling and hazardous waste determination effort can be completed by the company through a waste determination plan. Denka will continue testing additional emissions reductions measures to reduce emissions from the management of this waste. These projects and any modifications will be subject to EPA review and approval. If successful, the emissions reduction projects alone have the potential to eliminate approximately two tons of chloroprene emissions per year from poly kettle strainer clean-out, according to Denka’s reported Emissions Inventory.
For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/la/laplace-st-john-baptist-parish-louisiana.