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KY Plastics Plant Ranks in Nation's Top Ten Emitters of Chlorine
Kentucky Ag Connection - 04/01/2024

A western Kentucky plastics plant is among the top 10 emitters of chlorine air pollution, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The Calvert City plant is owned by the Westlake corporation and manufactures ethylene, a primary ingredient used to make plastics, along with polyvinyl chloride.

Alexandra Shaykevich, research manager for the Environmental Integrity Project, said the plant has been scrutinized by federal regulators for environmental violations. Air monitors around the plant in Calvert city found elevated levels of harmful volatile organic compounds.

"According to EPA data, they were penalized with over $2 million in penalties between October 2020, and September 2023, as a result of violations under the Clean Air Act," Shaykevich pointed out.

According to the report, at least 10 new plastic plants and 23 expansion projects at existing facilities have been proposed nationwide, including in Kentucky. Companies producing plastics emitted nearly 63 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, about as much as fifteen coal-fired power plants.

The toxic chemicals emitted during plastics production have been linked to cancer, asthma and bronchitis.

Shaykevich noted communities living near the plant are bearing the brunt of the pollution.

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