After 13 residents who live near the LaPlace chemical plant came forward with health concerns and a lawsuit against the plant owner, Denka Performance Elastomer, the lawsuit has been allowed to continue in a recent decision by the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Denka is being pursued by the plaintiffs who allege that the emissions of chloroprene from the plant are causing them adverse health consequences.
Chloroprene is used in the production of neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber used to make a number of commonly used items.
Currently, Denka's plant is the only one that is emitting chloroprene in the U.S. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has claimed that the chloroprene is "likely carcinogenic."
Greg Bowser, the Executive Vice President with Louisiana Chemical Association, a local chemical trade association, commented on the nature of this situation.
"We’ve seen these lawsuits before and we’re just going to have to let it play out with what the evidence finds lead us," Bowser told Louisiana Record. "There may not be cases exactly like this, but there have been lawsuits brought before based on possible health effects and impacts and I think that the best method is to allow the science to dictate what it is."
While the plaintiffs in the case are claiming that their exposure to chloroprene is putting them at 800 times the risk of cancer as the national average, Bowser believes that the science is all that can really do to determine the truth in the matter.
"We’re in an age now, technologically when I’m sure that throughout the court case I’m sure there will be scientists and physicians and people that will be presenting evidence on that and I think that’s where we are now, we just have to see what happens with that," Bowser said.