Cleaning up Brick Kilns, Protecting Communities from Toxic Pollution
March 13, 2007
On March 13, 2007 a federal court vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s weak approach to limiting the toxic pollution produced by brick, clay and ceramic manufacturing facilities. The Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, challenged the standards that EPA set for these industries; the Clean Air Act’s toxic provisions require the EPA to set standards for so that they reflect the emission levels achieved by the cleanest plants operating today. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found in today's decision that EPA has repeatedly violated this requirement in standards it has set for a wide variety of industries, including cement plants and garbage incinerators.
“We applaud the court's decision, and it's a good thing we have courts to review what this rogue agency is doing," said Marti Sinclair, Sierra Club's air chair. "Instead of fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment, EPA is doing its best to deny Americans the protection that Congress provided."
Brick kilns and ceramics kilns emit more that 6,000 tons of toxic chemicals into the air each year, including hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, and particulate matter containing toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium and lead, which can lead to cancer, respiratory damage and neurological and organ damage. For many kilns, EPA refused to require any limit on toxic emissions at all. For others EPA set standards that, in direct violation of the Clean Air Act, did not even purport to reflect the emission levels achieved by the cleanest plants in the industry.
"People live next to these plants," said Sinclair. "Because EPA once again refused to obey the Clean Air Act, they're being exposed to far more toxic pollution than the Clean Air Act allows."
Details and Documents:
Opinion, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.