Union Carbide West Virginia Facility Ethylene Oxide Emissions Class Action

Union Carbide Corporation has a manufacturing facility in South Charleston, West Virginia that makes ethylene oxide for industrial purposes. The complaint for this class action calls the chemical “a powerful cancer-causing gas,” and alleges that the facility has been emitting it into the surrounding areas, “in both controlled and uncontrolled releases” for decades, thus raising the risk of cancer for area residents.

The class for this action is all natural persons who have lived within census tracts 54039000100, 54039012900, or 54039000200, for a period of one year or more, at any point between January 1, 1978 and December 6, 2019.

Ethylene oxide (EtO) has many industrial uses, including in making substances such as antifreeze, synthetic fibers, PVC pipe, plastics, surfactants, solvents, detergents, and polyurethane foam and in sterilizing medical equipment and plastic devices.

The complaint says, “The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),the National Toxicology Program, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) all classify [e]thylene [o]xide as a known human carcinogen.” It is also mutagenic. The gas is odorless and colorless and so generally can’t be detected by ordinary people going about their daily business.

In 1977, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended that occupational exposure be minimized. These studies were, in fact, based on “studies performed on workers at Union Carbide’s South Charleston Facility[,]” the complaint says. In, 1981, it found that EtO created cancer in animals.

EtO’s “half-life in the atmosphere is 211 days,” the complaint says, and, because it is heavier than air, it can linger along the ground.

The complaint says, “The EPA’s 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment (“NATA”) demonstrated severe cancer risks” in the area around the plant, and places them “as the highest in West Virginia and among the highest in the country.” It alleges that Union Carbide “operated without sufficient pollution controls” and did not properly control or eliminate emissions, so that residents of the area have been exposed to the gas for decades without being aware of it.

As a result of this, the complaint says, residents “require an award of the cost of a medical monitoring program necessary to detect the onset of physical harms, illnesses, disease processes or disease” to detect “cancer, the disease processes of cancer, and the progression of biomarket abnormalities.”

The counts include negligence, ultrahazardous activity/strict liability, and willful and wanton conduct, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Environmental

Most Recent Case Event

Union Carbide West Virginia Facility Ethylene Oxide Emissions Complaint

December 6, 2019

Union Carbide Corporation has a manufacturing facility in South Charleston, West Virginia that makes ethylene oxide for industrial purposes. The complaint for this class action calls the chemical “a powerful cancer-causing gas,” and alleges that the facility has been emitting it into the surrounding areas, “in both controlled and uncontrolled releases” for decades, thus raising the risk of cancer for area residents.

union_carbide_ethylene_oxide_emissions_compl.pdf

Case Event History

Union Carbide West Virginia Facility Ethylene Oxide Emissions Complaint

December 6, 2019

Union Carbide Corporation has a manufacturing facility in South Charleston, West Virginia that makes ethylene oxide for industrial purposes. The complaint for this class action calls the chemical “a powerful cancer-causing gas,” and alleges that the facility has been emitting it into the surrounding areas, “in both controlled and uncontrolled releases” for decades, thus raising the risk of cancer for area residents.

union_carbide_ethylene_oxide_emissions_compl.pdf
Tags: Cancer Risk, Environmental, Environmental Contamination, Environmental Pollution, Polluted or Toxic Air, medical