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Jury rules against vinyl maker in Lake Charles, LA

  Punitive Damages Awarded For The First Time Against Louisiana 
  Industry --  Greenpeace Calls For Action To Halt Continuing Threat
  Lake Charles, LA -- This week a Louisiana jury found one of the
  nation's leading vinyl manufacturers liable for "wanton and reckless
  disregard of public safety," causing one of the largest chemical 
  spills in the nation.  Workers brought a multi-million dollar
  lawsuit against the German-owned Condea Vista for damages caused by
  exposure to the chemical spill.  For the first time in state
  history, punitive damages totaling $7 million have been awarded
  against a local industry. 
  Evidence produced during the trial estimated that Condea Vista
  released between 19-47 million pounds of ethylene dichloride (EDC)
  into the local waterways of Lake Charles, Louisiana.  EDC, a
  suspected human carcinogen linked to liver, kidney, and
  nervous system damage, is essential to the manufacture of vinyl, 
  also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Lake Charles is host to the 
  nation's largest concentration of PVC manufacturers.
  "Only a negligible amount of EDC has been recovered from the toxic
  spill," said Tom Filo, attorney who represented plaintiffs in the
  lawsuit against Condea Vista.  "EDC has been detected in the
  200-foot sands in the Chicot Aquifer at 76 times the safe drinking
  water standard," said Filo.  The Chicot Aquifer is a source of 
  drinking water for Southwest Louisiana and Southeastern Texas.
  Greenpeace is calling for a halt to the expansion of the PVC
  industry. "Condea Vista has provided tragic proof that vinyl
  production is not safe," said Beth Zilbert, Greenpeace activist. 
  "This is the fourth major chemical accident in the Lake Charles area 
  by a vinyl producer in the last three years.  An industry with this 
  kind of record should not be allowed to grow," said Zilbert.  
  Against citizen protest, two vinyl corporations, Shintech and 
  Westlake, have sought permits to build PVC facilities in Louisiana. 
  The National Environmental Law Center, an organization that monitors 
  chemical accidents in the U.S., compiled data on toxic chemical 
  accidents in 3,000 U.S. counties during the years 1988-1992.  
  Calcasieu Parish, the county where Lake Charles is located, had the 
  fourth highest number of chemical accidents according to the study.  
  Contact:	Thomas Filo, Attorney (318) 436-6611
  Beth Zilbert, Greenpeace (888) 401 3324 toll free voice mail pager
  Charlie Cray
  Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
  847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
  Chicago, IL 60607
  Ph: (312) 563-6060 x218
  Fax: (312) 563-6099
  Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray@dialb.greenpeace.org