KY plastics plant ranks in nation’s top ten emitters of chlorine Skip to content

KY plastics plant ranks in nation’s top ten emitters of chlorine

The plant was also the subject of an in-depth story by Pro Publica, as noted below this article.

The Westlake chemical plant in Calvert City (photo by ProPublica)

A western Kentucky plastics plant is among the top 10 emitters of chlorine air pollution, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The Calvert City plant is owned by the Westlake corporation and manufactures ethylene, a primary ingredient used to make plastics, along with polyvinyl chloride.

Alexandra Shaykevich, research manager for the Environmental Integrity Project, said the plant has been scrutinized by federal regulators for environmental violations. Air monitors around the plant in Calvert city found elevated levels of harmful volatile organic compounds.

“According to EPA data, they were penalized with over $2 million in penalties between October 2020, and September 2023, as a result of violations under the Clean Air Act,” Shaykevich pointed out.

According to the report, at least 10 new plastic plants and 23 expansion projects at existing facilities have been proposed nationwide, including in Kentucky. Companies producing plastics emitted nearly 63 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, about as much as fifteen coal-fired power plants.

The toxic chemicals emitted during plastics production have been linked to cancer, asthma, and bronchitis.

Shaykevich noted communities living near the plant are bearing the brunt of the pollution.

“They did find an elevated cancer risk for communities living within close proximity to that plant,” Shaykevich emphasized. “That’s very concerning, I’m sure, for the folks that are living downwind from the Westlake facility and Calvert City.”

Nationwide, more than 66% of the people living within three miles of the factories manufacturing the main ingredients in plastic products are people of color. Around 8% of the plants cited in the report had violated air pollution control permits over the last three years.


Written by Nadia Ramlagan for Kentucky News Connection.

See also:

Air Monitors Alone Won’t Save Communities From Toxic Industrial Air Pollution
Calvert City, Kentucky, has long had what people in other toxic hot spots have been begging for: monitors to prove they’re being exposed to toxic industrial air pollution. Regulators have years of evidence, but the poison in the air is only growing.

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