PRESS RELEASE: Nucor Steel Cancels Major Expansion
After Exposing Massive Nucor Violations and Expansion Plans, Residents Celebrate Victory
St. James Parish residents who live within a mile of Nucor Steel are celebrating the company’s withdrawal of its Title V permit application for a major expansion of its Pelletizer Plant just one year after submitting it to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). News of the withdrawal comes after St. James Parish residents publicized Nucor’s massive air permit violations, filing an objection to the settlement between Nucor and LDEQ which did little to protect fenceline residents from future emission violations.
“For years I’ve been told Nucor isn’t polluting and to look elsewhere,” said Myrtle Felton, a leader of Inclusive Louisiana and a 4th District resident who can see the facility from her window. “But now we’ve found out that for six years Nucor has been emitting harmful sulfuric acid that has been affecting our health and our property. What’s more, they don’t know how they’re going to stop it. So why are they even operating, let alone making a plan to expand?
On July 27th, 2021, Nucor submitted an “Addendum” to LDEQ that replaced its original permit renewal application entirely and stated its intention to withdraw the proposed Pelletization Project plan. It was only this week, however, that the 600-page addendum was posted to LDEQ’s Electronic Document Management System (EDMS). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
For years, St. James Parish residents have been leading their communities against the barrage of chemical plants locating in the majority African American 4th and 5th Districts of St. James Parish. In the fall of 2019, they successfully stopped Wanhua Chemical, a $1.25 billion plastics plant, from building in the 4th District. They continue to work towards a complete moratorium on all new chemical plants and expansions in St. James Parish.
“We exposed Nucor for illegally releasing sulfuric acid and other toxic pollutants into the air for nearly six years. Now we give Glory to God for the revelation that Nucor has cancelled its major project that would have been built less than a mile from my home,” said Barbara Washington of Inclusive Louisiana.
According to Nucor’s own reporting, it doesn’t know how to control already-excessive emissions from its operating direct reduced iron (DRI) plant. Nucor has stated that despite investing almost $200,000, it was unable to resolve an issue with their tail gas routing that contributes to excess sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid mist emissions. Nucor also reported that according to their performance test from November 2020 they had exceeded permit limits for carbon monoxide, PM10 and PM2.5, VOCs, and other harmful emissions. When they conducted an additional performance test in January 2021, they continued to exceed permit limitations for several of the same pollutants. No explanation or plans to fix this appear.
“Nucor was proposing to expand and increase its emissions at the same time it was the subject of multiple DEQ enforcement actions from years’ worth of violations and was repeatedly failing its own stack testing by large margins. The withdrawal of the proposed “Pelletizer Project” is both a positive step for the local residents and an opportunity for both DEQ and the community to take a hard look at Nucor’s ongoing permit violations,” said Attorney Lauren Godshall of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
“Nucor admitted they had been polluting Convent, St. James and Welcome with chemicals and Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10). Pollution goes anywhere the wind blows, and the air quality for all 21,000 residents in St. James Parish has been compromised,” said Gail LeBoeuf of Inclusive Louisiana.
“This is the second time in three years that a major source has withdrawn plans to build or expand in St. James Parish,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Wanhua Chemical decided to withdraw after major opposition, and Nucor also made a decision not to expand. The parish council and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality haven’t stopped a thing. In fact, they roll out the red carpet. It’s the people of St. James Parish who have stood up to protect themselves.”
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.