Alert 104: DuPont and Dioxin

[Note:  This article reposted August 24th, 2015]

DuPont plant in Delaware, USA, reports emissions of over sixty pounds (28 kg) of dioxin and dioxin-like substances in year 2000

Port Penn, Delaware, July 2, 2001.

By Alan Muller

Under the US EPA Toxic Release Inventory program (part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)), releases of dioxin and dioxin-like substances are being reported for the first time.

Data for calendar year 2000 are due to federal and state regulators on July 2nd (today). The reporting threshold for dioxin is 0.1 grams, equivalent to about two/ten-thousandth of a pound.

Preliminary reports indicate that dioxin emissions in Delaware above these levels will be reported by Motiva (an oil refinery), Conectiv (from two coal-fired power plants), Metachem Products (a plant making chlorinated benzine compounds), Oxychem (operator of a caustic-chlorine plant that also emits lots of mercury), as well as DuPont.

17 individual chemicals make up the family of reportable “dioxins and dioxin-like compounds.” Some are considered more toxic than others, and each has a Toxic Equivalent (TEQ) to the most toxic dioxin. Dioxin emissions can be looked at in terms of the total emissions and/or the TEQ emissions. TEQ is usually a smaller amount depending on the mix of dioxins present.

Dioxins are considered the most toxic materials known, and the average levels of dioxin in the American people is considered by EPA to be high enough to potentially be causing health problems. The International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] –part of the World Health Organization –announced February 14, 1997, that the most potent dioxin, 2,3,7,8-TCDD, is a now considered a Class 1 carcinogen, meaning a “known human carcinogen.”

For more information on dioxin see http://action.enviroweb.org/dioxin/.

The DuPont Edge Moor plant, in a populated area on the Delaware River, was the world’s first “chloride process” plant for the manufacture of titanium http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/antidepressants/ dioxide (TiO2), a non-toxic white pigment used in everything from white paint to cookies.

It is the smallest of DuPont’s TIO2 plants, others being located in DeLisle Mississippi, New Johnsonville Tennessee, Altamira Mexico, and Taiwan. DuPont formerly operated another plant in Antioch, California. Other such plants are operated by other firms.

Because these plants chlorinate their feed materials (ore) at high temperatures, any organic materials in the feed have the potential to produce chlorinated organic wastes, such as dioxin. Edge Moor produces approximately 100,000 tons per year of wastes.

Originally these wastes were disposed of in on-site lagoon/landfills. Some were sent as landfill cover to Delaware Solid Waste Authority landfills. Now, they apparently are being sent to a landfill in South Carolina that is permitted to accept dioxins.

As reported by the Wilmington News Journal (DuPont spokesperson Sharon Justice said the information was “generally accurate,” but detailed information from DuPont was not available): The dioxin emissions from the Edge Moor Plant were about:

to air 0.1 gram
to water 14 grams
to land 27000 grams (61 pounds)

[Note: DuPont Edge Moor officially reported 85 pounds of dioxin for year 2000]
DuPont says the TEQ of all this is about 45 grams.

In March 2001, the EPA estimated the total releases to land in the United States to be 127.6 TEQ, but this is known to be incomplete. Emissions from titanium dioxide manufacturing are apparently not included in the EPA inventory. See http://www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/dioxin/.

A document from the Delaware Division of Public Health (Office of Drinking Water), approved by the USEPA, states “there are no known dioxin sources in Delaware.”

We will report in more detail on Dioxin emissions in Delaware in a few days.

Green Delaware is a community based organization working on environment and public health issues. We try to provide “information you can use.” Please use it.

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