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PRESS RELEASE: Nucor Settlement Exposes Long History of Permit Violations

St. James Parish Residents File Objection to Nucor/LDEQ Settlement

(St. James, LA)

On July 20th, Lawyers for Inclusive Louisiana and Louisiana Bucket Brigade submitted comments to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) opposing its proposed settlement with Nucor Steel Louisiana LLC (letter here). The proposed settlement comes after years of repeated Nucor permit violations spanning from 2014 to 2019, during which time Nucor and LDEQ failed to notify fenceline residents of unpermitted releases and emergency dumps in their community.

“We as residents of the community living near Nucor Steel have never been notified of the incidents and releases in our neighborhood, though Nucor and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality have known full well,” said Barbara Washington of Inclusive Louisiana.

According to the settlement document prepared by LDEQ, Nucor released 139.53 tons of hydrogen sulfide and 21.26 tons of sulfuric acid mist into the Romeville Community from 2014 to 2018, despite having no permit to do so. It also performed three concurrent emergency dumps in 2015 and never informed the community. As recently as January 2021, Nucor failed a stack test by violating emission regulations for fourteen out of the nineteen pollutants, including carbon monoxide, Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5), and lead.

According to the proposed settlement, Nucor Steel, the largest Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) plant in the world, only faces a potential fine of $89,760.32. There are no stipulations that require the company to control its emissions, to notify residents of future unplanned emissions, to implement constant air monitoring around the fenceline of its property, or to compensate residents for damage to their health and their property.

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Soot and chemicals from Nucor are landing on my property, and the pollution is wearing down my health. I live on a fixed income, so I have no choice but to clean up Nucor’s mess myself. Why isn’t Nucor held accountable to repair its own mess? I am so sick and tired and fed up,” said Romeville resident and Inclusive member Myrtle Felton.

Though Nucor has consistently failed to abide by air permit regulations, the company is proposing to expand. Its proposed pelletizer plant would be a major source of air emissions, and according to its air permit application, the plant would emit an additional 125 tons of PM 2.5 per year, the same particles that have increased risk of death from Covid-19.

“Any expansion of Nucor will add to the pollution of our air, water and soil. Nucor is a result of the elected and unelected, and it has been operating with no regards or resolve to help the people most affected by Particulate Matter 2.5 pollution. We never receive financial compensation for our homes or our compromised immune systems, which is the worst insult of all,” said Gail LeBoeuf of Inclusive Louisiana.

“The only reason that the state and Nucor want this settlement is so that Nucor can expand,” said Anne Rolfes, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “But as the company’s own records show, it can’t even handle its current operations. Only an agency like our sorry DEQ – polluters paradise – would offer such a pathetic settlement to a notorious polluter endangering people’s lives.

Inclusive Louisiana is a faith-based organization educating and mobilizing our community against the petrochemical industry that is polluting and harming our homes, our health, and our loved ones.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade collaborates with communities adjacent to petrochemical plants, using grassroots action to create an informed, healthy society and hasten the transition from fossil fuels.