Published: 5:08 PM, 10/30/2009
Last updated: 5:10 PM, 10/30/2009
The Environmental Protection Agency
has finalized the Air Toxics Risk Assessment Report,
reflecting findings from data collected at monitors at two
locations in Loudon County over several years. Report
findings were discussed Wednesday by the Loudon County Air
Quality Task Force.
Mike Crosby, task force chairman, said the finalized report
had not changed significantly from the preliminary report
delivered in July. The report concluded that suspected
carcinogens - actaldehyde, were not found in concentrations
deemed to present an undue health risk. The scientists' main
concern was an unexpectedly high level of acrolein, a
substance known to cause respiratory distress.
While report conclusions were not all
negative, new or particularly alarming, local citizens in
attendance insisted air quality still is unacceptable.
Several took to task industry representatives for failing to
meet emission standards set by the Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
Local activist Pat Hunter asked industry stack test results
be added to the agenda for discussion. Several other
community citizens were in attendance, asking questions and
voicing concerns about the environment.
Citizen Sarah Simpson Bivens first broached the topic about
stack tests results. Bivens asked the task force to
investigate and attempt to obtain information to explain why
hardwood trees are dying on a family farm property parcel.
"The young trees as well as old are dying off," she said. "I
want to find out if it is related to air pollution. We are
just across the river from the (Kimberly-Clark) plant."
Bivens said the United States
Department of Agriculture had maintained a test plot on the
farm property for several years, but had not disclosed any
findings with the owners.
Hunter said she shared Bivens'
concerns. "I look at the smoke stacks, and I see a different
white plume, a different black smoke and a brown haze."
Betty McAllister, a Loudon resident, said, "I see what comes
out of Staley (now Tate & Lyle), and you're telling me
there is nothing harmful out there?"
Jerry Schleuter, Tate & Lyle plant manager, said the
acetaldehyde levels found in the air toxics report placed
the substance in the yellow, or elevated level, but not in
the red danger level. "It is not toxic, so the answer would
Schleuter said Tate & Lyle is on shut-down through November
except for a skeletal crew, for the plant to correct some
problems. He also said the plant had received a Notice of
Violation from TDEQ after reporting a 12-hour boiler fire
problem that had occurred about a year ago.
"Basically, it was poor quality control," he said. "We did
everything we could, other than shut down."
Over the last few months,
Kimberly-Clark Corp. has failed two stack tests and received
Notices of Violation from TDEC.
Bryan Crawford, the Kimberly-Clark task force
representative, reported the plant is waiting for a third
stack test. Internal tests, conducted by a third party for
the plant indicated the problems had been resolved, he said.
Hunter said Crawford's explanation did not allay her fears,
which revolve primarily around the sooty, small-particle
emissions from local industries.
"Most of us who live in the area know
the difference between before and after Kimberly-Clark,"
"You see the dust everywhere. You see
it along the road, dumped. You see it on vehicles on cars on
siding, close to residential areas."
Hunter said although the soot causes
an unsightly residue on everything, she is not concerned
about cosmetic issues.
Her concern, she said, is health effects.
"My grandkids play out in the stuff, and it is not good.
Kimberly-Clark keeps telling us it will be addressed, but
they are no closer to getting it addressed. I am concerned
about the long-term effects when our kids have to breathe
it, and I would like to see something done. We keep coming
to these meetings, but we never hear about enforcement. You
should do a check. The board has an obligation to tell us if
there is noncompliance."
Loudon County remains in noncompliance with the
Environmental Protection Agency's small particulate emission
standards. The air toxics study just completed by TDEC and
EPA did not address small particulates, but looked at
chemicals and chemical compounds released into the air.
Hunter said she had obtained evidence
that the small particulate emission violations were far more
significant than plant representatives had indicated.
"I got the paperwork, and it is a significant violation. ...
We are not talking a little bit elevated – we are talking
off the gauge."
Crawford said abnormal operating
conditions had led to the elevated emissions incident, and
that the plant had continuously looked for ways to address
problems. "We now have a tool that will monitor
continuously," he said.
"We are confident of a resolution
because we can prevent a recurrence with the monitors in
Crosby said he was sympathetic with Hunter's concerns. "For
four years you have been here and it has been an ongoing
issue, despite repeated efforts to address."
Shirley Harrison, another citizen in
attendance at the meeting, said she uses a machine at night
for breathing problems, and changes the machine filter every
three or four months.
"When I change the filter, it's black
and gray from the pollution I'm breathing every night,"
Harrison said. "It's scary."
Harrison noted that nearly 6,000 people live around
Kimberly-Clark and are breathing air containing those
emissions at all times.