Environment

The Louisville chemical company Hexion is expected to pay its second fine in two years for poor plant maintenance and operations.

Even Hexion’s statement, issued to reporters and regulators, was nearly identical to what the company said about its fine last year.

The Louisville Air Pollution Control Board unanimously agreed Wednesday to fine Hexion $102,750 for repeated violations including small releases of the carcinogen formaldehyde.

Hexion makes adhesives and resins for a wide variety of uses.

Last year, Hexion paid more than $250,000 for violations dating back to 2015. For comparison, the company reported $135 million in gross profits for the quarter ending in June.

Regulators say the company has addressed poor plant operations with new equipment, including an interlock system that prevents workers from muting alarms — one of the alleged violations.

“We continue to be sure to monitor the company because it’s our concern that these very small types of releases may lead to a larger release,” said Rachael Hamilton, APCD assistant director.

WFPL News reported Tuesday that residents living just over the fence line from Hexion say their neighbors have died from rare forms of cancer as a result of the pollution in their community.

Ahead of the vote, board member and pulmonologist Josephine Mei asked if any part of the fine would go toward cancer-screenings for neighbors living nearby the chemical plant.

“The question is, how many things are they exposed to and how additive or exponential are those risk factors in terms of their risk of cancer?” she said.

West End advocate Arnita Gadson with the West Jefferson County Community Task Force recommended APCD adopt a policy for repeat violators to require a percentage of fines go to affected neighbors.

“That is one thing I would like to see,” she said.

But this fine will not go to neighbors. Instead, it will support enforcement and other programs at the Air Pollution Control District.

At the meeting, Hexion Site Leader Brad Giddens repeated the same statement provided to reporters over the last few days. It is the same statement the company used last year, according to this Courier Journal story.

“Hexion continues its commitment to operate its facilities in full compliance with all regulations and in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” Giddens said adding, “Hexion is agreeable to this board order.”

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.