CONVENT, LA. — The Rev. Jesse Jackson has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent Shintech Inc. from building a PVC plant in Convent.
In an Aug. 11 letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner in Washington and Jerry Clifford, acting regional administrator in Dallas, the civil rights leader said the Convent community is ``overburdened with hazardous facilities that release one of the highest levels of toxic air contaminants.''
Jackson, who serves as president of his own Rainbow/Push Coalition, said in the letter that EPA's decision in the case ``will signal to our nation the importance of environmental justice.''
EPA is scheduled to issue a ruling Sept. 2 on whether Shintech will be allowed to build the $700 million facility. The agency earlier dismissed a request to withdraw air permits issued to Shintech by state officials, but a charge of environmental racism is still pending against the Houston-based firm.
That charge came through a petition from environmentalists and area residents who point to a nearby government housing project that is primarily minority-occupied.
Shintech has countered that the plant's emissions will be safe and that those residents who live closest to the site are not opposed to the project. Two minority groups recently entered a local coastal land- use lawsuit in support of Shintech.
The plant would have annual capacity of 1.1 billion pounds of PVC, 1.1 billion pounds of vinyl chloride monomer, 1.1 billion pounds of caustic soda and 990 million pounds of chlorine.