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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cytec second on EPA list of state’s top polluters

As published in the Record Journal, Tuesday January 10, 2012

By Dan Ivers
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2275

WALLINGFORD — A local chemical plant has found itself near the top of a list of the state’s top polluters.

Cytec Industries, at 425 S. Cherry St., landed second on the list, behind only the AES Thames power plant in Uncasville. The list was compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, using 2010 records of toxic releases required to be disclosed under federal law.

According to the EPA, the plant reported releasing 254,927 pounds of toxic materials at the plant during 2010, and another 18,425 off site. Most of the releases were chemicals such as trichloroethane, acrylamide and acrylic acids. The plant managed more than 2.6 million pounds of waste.

Brett Giles, the site manager for the Wallingford plant, said it is one of a handful of specialty chemical plants in New England, which inherently produce more toxic material than other industries. He stressed that the company is in full compliance with all of its state-issued permits, and has significantly reduced its chemical emissions in recent years.

“We’re committed to protecting our environment,” he said. “The state of Connecticut has very stringent permit conditions, and those permits are based on human health assessments. We work inside of those permits.”

A statement issued by the EPA along with the list noted that 287,337 fewer pounds of pollutants were released by New England companies in 2010 than in 2009, largely due to efforts to reduce damage to the environment.

EPA officials said the report did not mean the high levels of pollution were violating any law, but wanted to make the information public for those who might live or work close to the plants. The 250-acre Wallingford Cytec plant is adjacent to a largely residential neighborhood.

State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, who lives on South Cherry Street close to the plant, said that emissions at the plant have likely become less harmful to the environment as the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection steps up permitting requirements and other regulations.

“It’s actually gotten better over the years. The complaints have certainly dropped off as the permits are ratcheted up,” she said.

Nevertheless, emissions from the plant have been the object of concern from the community. In 2003, Wallingford Little League abandoned Cytec Field out of concern over the effects of contaminated soil. The only other area company to land on the list is a Tyco Healthcare Group facility in North Haven, which ranked just behind Cytec as the third highest polluter. Cytec’s Wallingford plant employs 150 people, and ranked 10th on the town’s list of biggest taxpayers, paying more than $13.3 million last year. Formerly known as American Cyanamid, it has been operating on the same site since 1941.

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