Union, Environmental Groups Allege Insufficient Reporting of Toxic Chemicals
PITTSBURGH, April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the Union, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), have taken the first step toward filing a lawsuit against OMNOVA Solutions, Inc. by providing notice of intent to file suit in United States Federal District Court. The suit would fall under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) for what appears to be insufficient reporting of the use, storage and release of toxic chemicals to the environment from the company's decorative products facility in Monroe, N.C.
In a letter sent today by USW, CHEJ and BREDL to fulfill the 60-day notice requirement to perfect jurisdiction to bring the citizen suit, the groups allege that the company failed to accurately complete and submit required Toxic Chemical Release Forms for 2008 to report discharges of Toluene and Isopropyl alcohol to the environment. The company failed to report releases of Isopropyl alcohol to the environment for 2009 and also failed to file required storage Inventory Forms for Toluene. Under EPCRA, OMNOVA could be subject to civil penalties up to $32,500 per violation, per day with liabilities that ultimately could reach millions of dollars.
"We have found that employers who disrespect workers often treat the environment with the same contempt," said USW Special Counsel Lynn Agee. "Until OMNOVA starts obeying our laws and respecting workers, we'll continue in our efforts to bring the company to justice."
"The League's members in the Carolinas are united in support of this action," stated Louis Zeller, Legal Director, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. "We cannot allow companies to ignore toxic chemical reporting; it's our right to know."
Both Toluene and Isopropyl alcohol can irritate the nose and throat and health warnings advise that Toluene may cause birth defects, as well as liver, kidney and brain damage.
"Community members and workers have the need as well as the right to know about hazardous chemicals used and released by OMNOVA," said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). "Corporations like OMNOVA need to come clean and fully inform the public and workers about toxic chemicals stored at their facilities and released into communities."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Diane Heminway, USW, 412-562-2519 Mike Schade, CHEJ, 212-964-3680