Home Energy and Environment Sierra Club Report Spotlights Worst Toxic Polluters in Virginia

Sierra Club Report Spotlights Worst Toxic Polluters in Virginia

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Nice work by the VA Sierra Club. Note, by the way, that the most polluted places also – NOT coincidentally, as environmental justice advocates have pointed out for ages – are places that tend to be poorer and/or have a higher percentage of minorities. For instance, Hopewell (#1 on the Sierra Club list) is poor and “majority minority,” and “has struggled with transitions through loss of jobs due to plant closures, changes in residential housing patterns, and the costs of environmental clean-up.” Covington City (#2 on the list) is overwhelmingly white, but poor. Buchanan (#4 on the list) is also overwhelmingly white and poor. Sensing a pattern here?

Sierra Club Report Spotlights Worst Toxic Polluters in Virginia

Report details of Virginia’s top 25 most toxic ZIP codes

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Sierra Club Virginia Chapter released a report today entitled The Top 25 Virginia Localities with the Highest Toxic Air Emissions. Virginia localities ranking high on the list include Hopewell, Covington, Buchanan, Isle of Wight and West Point.

“The majority of citizens don’t know what’s causing their poor air quality, or that they can do something about it,” Kate Addleson, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director, said. “We’re issuing this report to expose corporate polluters for releasing dangerous chemicals into our air to the detriment of Virginians’ health.”

The report is based on the EPA’s 2015 Toxic Release Inventory, an air pollution database detailing toxic chemical releases available for most ZIP codes across the United States. This data, self-reported by the companies releasing the pollutants, is analyzed to create the final Sierra Club report. Toxic chemicals emitted in West Point ZIP Code 23181 increased 18 percent from the previous year, the largest increase in the state.

The report also highlights the state’s largest polluters, which include MeadWestvaco (WestRock), Honeywell International Inc., Jewell Coke Company LP, International Paper and Dominion Chesterfield Power Station. Total reported toxic air pollution exceeds 19 million pounds, a slight decrease from the previous year. Virginia is ranked 15th worst in total toxic air releases occurring in the 56 states and territories.

“Throughout the state, major corporations’ toxic air pollution emissions are rising, despite Virginia’s slight overall decrease in air pollution,” Kendyl Crawford, Conservation Program Manager with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said. “We call on the Department of Environmental Quality and our elected officials to support increased opportunities for engagement in the Title V air pollution permitting process. Virginians living in highly polluted areas should be given more opportunities to speak for themselves and to fight these large corporations spewing toxic chemicals into the communities where they live.”

Important findings of this year’s statewide report include:

–  In each of five ZIP codes, over one million pounds of toxic chemicals were released.

–  Fifteen chemicals compose almost 18 million pounds of toxic air pollution discharged into the air in Virginia.

– The toxic chemicals emitted cause health problems like birth defects, damage to various organs and cancer.

The full report can be found at http://vasierra.club/toxics2017. A chart of the top 25 most toxic ZIP codes is on page 24.