EPA Has Done Nearly All It Can To Clean Up This Town. It Hasn’t Worked.

"Despite years of air monitoring, inspections and millions in penalties for petrochemical plants, the air in Calvert City, Kentucky, remains polluted. The EPA’s inability to fix it is an indictment of the laws governing clean air, experts say."

"Nearly 100 people crowded into the library in Calvert City, Kentucky, in February when the Environmental Protection Agency hosted a public meeting on air pollution. Many had discovered flyers in their mailboxes explaining how the agency had found “elevated levels” of chemicals that “can pose an increased risk of cancer.”

The EPA aimed to deliver a simple message that evening: Local petrochemical plants were leaking toxic air pollutants and regulators were working to fix them. And what played out next was predictable to anyone who has been to one of these meetings. There were concerned questions (Would you hesitate to live here? What are you going to do today?), unsatisfying answers (We’re working with the plants on voluntary measures) and pleas for action that regulators said couldn’t happen “overnight.”

What made this meeting remarkable, however, was a sobering truth that bubbled up amid the exasperated grumbles and earnest assurances.

Once a community becomes a hot spot for these pollutants, it’s nearly impossible to clean it up for good. In fact, ProPublica found, such a success story is virtually unheard of."

Lisa Song reports for ProPublica April 15, 2024.

Source: ProPublica, 04/16/2024