Jon Huntsman has run as the most environmentally friendly of all Republican candidates. But his family’s business — The Huntsman Corporation — has run into trouble with environmental regulators. Huntsman served as the vice chairman of the board and was an executive committee member 1993-2001, and his personal wealth is largely attributed to the company.
In 1997 the Huntsman Corporation bought a Fiftiesbuilt petrochemical plant in Odessa, TX. When Huntsman Corp. took over, they said the plant was in dire need of upgrades. This involved the burning of excess materials.
Within three days of this, the new Huntsman plant had burned off over 61,000 pounds of ethylene, according to published reports. They also burned more than 32,000lbs of propylene and hundreds of pounds of benzine and butadiene, which are suspected carcinogens.
That, along with several other incidents, logged residents to complain as they began experiencing similar symptoms which they collectively coined “Odessa syndrome.”
The residents spoke of trouble breathing, soreness of the eyes and throat, bloody noses, and nausea. It was soon reported that there was a higher rate than normal of kidney cancer. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) received more than 3,000 complaints about the different symptoms
The Huntsman Corporation was eventuallyforced to make a $3 million settlement with the residents of Odessa who suffered from the pollution. The company’s original $2 million settlement was rejected by the citizens.
In 1998 as well, two former Huntsman plant managers were indicted and eventually convicted, of violating the Clean Air Act during their time as head of a Huntsman plant in Port Arthur, Texas. The two men failed to disclose information to EPA and the TNRCC concerning releases of volatile organic compounds from the plant. The EPA noted that the Huntsman Corporation was cooperated in the investigation and agreed to establish a $500,000 trust fund for the preservation and improvement of coastal wetlands in Southeast Texas in response to the incident.
In 2003, the Huntsman Corporation agreed to pay $9 million in 2003 for violations related to their Port Arthur plant.
A 2011 report from the Environmental Integrity Project contained scathing details about the Huntsman Corporation plant in Port Neches, Texas. The report claimed that
so far in 2011 the plant had stated that equipment malfunctions at the plant had triggered the release almost 40,000 pounds of ethylene, a highly reactive toxic chemical that contributes to the creation of smog. It has detailed that the same plant had self reported the release of more than 15,600 pounds of ethylene oxide in 2010 when a loading rack was overfilled due to an “inattentive” operator.
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