Judge nixes permit for Georgia Gulf's Westlake plant

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

A Baton Rouge state judge decided that an air permit for Georgia Gulf’s Westlake plant should not be renewed.

This decision is part of a legal suit filed by Mossville Environmental Action Now, which contends the company’s emissions

exceed healthy limits set by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

On Monday, activists and lawyers with Georgia Gulf and DEQ argued in 19th Judicial District Court about the ban imposed by

the judge

Dorthy Felix, president of MEAN, said the ruling is a small win for activists.

“Now we are going to move forward against DEQ for issuing the air permit in violation of Louisiana clean air standards,” she

said. “We are excited. I think DEQ expected the judge to just remove the stay. It was a slap in their face.”

In commenting about the court decision,

DEQ spokeswoman Jean Kelly said that “the facility is currently

operating under the

old permit. The stay means the facility can’t operate under the

new permit until after the judicial review process is complete.”

Georgia Gulf officials declined to comment on the hearing since the issue is in litigation.

Felix said the state and company should resolve the air permit issue among themselves, especially since it is understood that

residents allegedly suffer from health problems they attribute to pollution.

Monique Harden with New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights — the organization representing MEAN in court

— said the renewal is a “big issue.”

“Ultimately we are dealing with a

permit issue and compliance. MEAN is suing DEQ for issuing the renewal

to Georgia Gulf because

it means the company would be able to violate state air standards

based on the state’s own limits,” she said. “Those limits

prohibit an industrial facility from releasing pollutants above

state-set limits.”

Activists have argued since last summer that Georgia Gulf has been releasing pollutants over safe air standards for more than

five years.

Meetings involving MEAN and state officials were held in which residents suggested that the permit not be renewed.

In September, DEQ announced that Georgia Gulf’s permit would be renewed, prompting MEAN’s lawsuit.

Georgia Gulf, located at 1600 VCM Plant Road, produces vinyl chloride monomer which is used to make products like vinyl siding,

computer casings and surgical gloves.