Industrialization and
    air pollution

  Lawsuits
  Air Pollutants
  Clean Air Act
  State regulation
  Smog reduction
  Sulfur dioxide
  Carbon dioxide and
    global warming

Lawsuits       Kanawha Valley. Through the years chemical leaks into the air and other harmful emissions have led to lawsuits against emitters.  In the Kanawha Valley several sizeable class actions have been litigated with varying degrees of success.  The October 1998 jury verdict against FMC was a multimillion dollar stinging rebuke of its safety practices. 

     Earlier lawsuits focused on tiny but dangerous methyl isocyanate (MIC) emissions from Union Carbide's Institute plant. MIC was the chemical that led to the deaths of, and injuries to, hundreds of people in Bhopal, India. Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical in 2000. The former managing director of Union Carbide India was quoted as saying: "If you do something that is inherently dangerous, and somebody does something foolish with it, still you are responsible for doing what was inherently dangerous."

      Huntington area. In the Huntington area emissions from a number of plants blow in from westerly sources.  In the mid-1980s Ashland Oil's new RCCS (Reduced Crude Conversion System) at Catlettsburg, Kentucky, malfunctioned. The RCCS frequently deposited a powder onto houses and vehicles, and was the subject of a major lawsuit by about 700 residents, which suit was settled favorably to the plaintiffs. The RCCS, which turns "dirty" (high metal content) crude oil into gasoline, was altered and emissions were reduced substantially. Other lawsuits followed through the early 1990s. 

      Ashland's style of public relations in the mid-1980s was heavily criticized and stirred up interest in doing something about pollution.  One result:  OVEC. In the late 1980s and thereafter Ashland's public relations efforts became sophisticated and effective.  Ashland, Inc.'s influence on it offshoot, Arch Coal, Inc., was evident in the 1990s in Arch's warm and fuzzy advertising about mountaintop removal of coal.

      An EPA Office of Regional Counsel enforcement action against Ashland, Inc. was announced October 1, 1998, describing a consent decree's $32.5 million settlement of violations under CAA, RCRA, CWA, EPCRA, and TSCA, involving three locations including the Catlettsburg, Kentucky, refinery.  The announcement included this statement:   "This selection was made because each refinery was believed to have serious ongoing violations under multiple statutes, the refining industry is a national priority sector, and regional staff felt that Ashland had demonstrated a corporate-wide policy of doing the minimum necessary to comply with environmental laws and then only after threat of litigation and long and difficult negotiation." [Emphasis supplied].   As of January 1, 1998, a joint venture known as Marathon Ashland Petroleum became the operator of the facilities.
Last updated on Monday, July 24, 2000