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Jury rules against vinyl maker in Lake Charles, LA
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Jury rules against vinyl maker in Lake Charles, LA
- From: "Charlie Cray" <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 14:22:33 +0000
- Comments: Authenticated sender is <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Organization: Greenpeace
- Priority: normal
LEADING VINYL COMPANY FOUND LIABLE IN ONE OF NATION'S LARGEST
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
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