News advisory for August 18, 2004

Report to show nationwide loopholes for supposedly "accidental" air pollution pushing carcinogenic pollutants well over U.S. legal limits

Group to highlight Sun Oil Oregon Refinery accidents

Video shot by residents of refineries victimized by pollution to illustrate air woes

OREGON -- Millions of Americans - including Ohioans -- are exposed today to supposedly "accidental" industrial site air pollution incidents that include cancer-causing pollutants far in excess of the limits set out under federal law, according to a report to be released in Ohio on August 18, 2004 by Ohio Citizen Action and the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Integrity Project.

The national report will show that, in addition to lax U.S. EPA oversight, the major culprits behind the so-called "upsets" pollution are state laws that permit the supposedly "accidental" emissions to take place in violation of federal law. Additionally only a small handful of states actually track these "upsets" and then take appropriate action. Though the Environmental Integrity Project report is national in scope, it looks in detail at the situations in California, Ohio Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas to illustrate the "upset" issue.

Among the excess pollution emissions involved in "upset" incidents in the national report are benzene and butadiene -- two major carcinogens. In order to document the hidden "upsets" pollution problem, citizens living nearby industrial/commercial sites -- including refineries and chemical plants -- have produced videotape records of the "accidental" emissions. The videotape will be available online and in hard-copy form on August 18, 2004.

In addition to the national news event, Ohio Citizen Action is also releasing a local report detailing the 2002 and 2003 upsets at the Sun Oil Refinery in Oregon, Ohio. Ohio Citizen Action and Sun Oil refinery neighbors have been working to reduce emissions from the refinery. This information was compiled using reports submitted to Toledo Environmental Services by the Sun Oregon Refinery. Names of refinery neighbors who can talk about living next to the refinery will also be provided.

News event participants will be --

  • Rachael Belz, Associate Director, Ohio Citizen Action; and
  • Kelly Haragan, Counsel, Environmental Integrity Project.
To participate: A live, two-way phone-based news event (with Q&A) will take place at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 at 1-(800) 860-2442.

Can't participate?: A streaming audio recording of the news event will be available on-line at 5 p.m. EDT on August 18, 2004. B-roll footage of upsets at various refineries nationwide will also be available to interested TV producers.

Contact: Rachael Belz, Ohio Citizen Action, (513) 221-2100, or Stephanie Kendall, for Environmental Integrity Project, (703) 276-3254.