The U.S. EPA has recently proposed new restrictions on the use of asbestos. While asbestos use is currently restricted, the new rules would be the closest to a complete ban. The proposed rules have been celebrated by those who have asbestos-related diseases and advocates. Still, chemical companies continue to fight the ban.
The dangers of asbestos exposure have been widely known for decades. The naturally occurring mineral has been linked to numerous deadly diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It was utilized for various commercial purposes until the 1970s when the EPA initially took steps to limit its uses. The mining of asbestos has been prohibited in the U.S. since 2002, but it is still imported for some purposes.
Chlorine Industry Is Fighting the Ban
Diaphragms made from asbestos are used to create many chlor-alkali products for several purposes, such as purifying drinking water supplies, making pharmaceutical products, and other manufactured products, including circuit boards, car parts, and lithium batteries. There are ways to adapt these processes to avoid the use of asbestos. There are only 10 plants in the U.S. that still use these processes, one of which is already scheduled to be closed in 2022. Only one-third of chlori-alkali products are made in these facilities. Still, the companies that own these plants are resistant to changing their operations.
The Olin Corporation, one of the biggest chlorine production companies in the U.S., owns some of these plants. They have claimed that the rule would force plant closures, resulting in lost jobs and lower clean water supplies.
Out of the approximately 48,000 workers in the chlor-alkali industry, however, a representative of the Chlorine Institute could only point to 100 employees whose jobs would be directly impacted. The company has requested an exemption to the rule specifically for chlorine production, arguing that it can be done safely.
Communities located near these plants have suffered from higher rates of cancer. With the majority of plants concentrated in Louisiana and Texas, it is communities of color that are disproportionately affected by the environmental impacts.
The proposed ban, if passed, would ban the use of chrysotile asbestos, forcing chlor-alkali plants to use alternative production methods. Plants that currently use asbestos would have two years to eliminate the use of asbestos in their processes.
The transition is challenging and costly, but there are substantial benefits to making the change. The new process is more efficient and would be less expensive, and it would also reduce the carbon emissions of these plants. The chlorine industry is the only industry that uses imported raw chrysotile asbestos, and the ban would reduce exposure across the supply chain.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Fight for the Rights of Those Who Have Been Negligently Exposed to Asbestos
Corporations that knowingly put their employees, customers, or community at risk of asbestos exposure can be liable for their negligent actions. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law can help you explore your legal options. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case.