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Daramic near top of polluter list, group says

An environmental watchdog group has declared a Corydon manufacturer as second highest in the nation when it comes to emitting a chemical pollutant into the atmosphere in 2002.
The emissions were within federal safety guidelines, and the company has taken steps to reduce the pollutant even more.
Environmental Defense, based in Washington, D.C., said Daramic Inc. in Harrison County Industrial Park north of Corydon, emitted 1.09 million pounds of trichloroethylene, or TCE, a solvent used in cleaning metal parts. TCE is classified as a ‘probable’ human carcinogen.
Only 3V Inc., a chemical plant in Georgetown, S.C., released more ‘ 1.2 million pounds in 2002.
Daramic produces plastic separators for batteries. The plant first operated here as Evans Products, then Evanite Fiber Corp., then the Exide Corp., which sold to Germany-based Daramic in late 1999.
The company says it is committed to protecting the environment. ‘Since that report, the company has reduced pollutant emissions by 60 percent,’ said Mark Hadley, company spokesman. To do that, he said, ‘the company adopted a new set of policies and procedures to help reduce emissions.’
The reduction was undertaken even though the emissions were within environmental safety guidelines, Hadley said.
Environmental Defense based its report on the latest figures available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Daramic’s vice president and general manager Pierre Hauswald said, ‘Daramic takes its responsibility to protect the environment very seriously and remains fully committed to the employees and environment in the communities in which we operate.
‘It is our policy to fully comply with all air and water pollution limits and guidelines,’ Hauswald said. ‘We have in place many policies and procedures, including the implementation of ISO 14001 enhanced environmental certification, which strives to continuously monitor and reduce the environmental impact of our operations.
‘Any questions we have ever had with them, they have been very cooperative,’ said Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack.
TCE is a colorless liquid that is not easily ignited but can explode. The vapors can cause dizziness or suffocation, according to information from Tony Combs, public health coordinator for the Harrison County Health Dept.
Most of the vapors are heavier than air so will spread along the ground and collect in low or confined areas. In case of a spill, 150 feet in each direction should be isolated, and unauthorized personnel should be kept away. Downwind evacuations of at least 330 feet should be considered in case of a large spill, and in cases of fire, 1/2-mile in all directions should be evacuated, among other precautions.
Dr. Rashidul Islam, Harrison County’s health officer, said TCE is ‘primarily an irritant, like chlorine.’
He does not believe the chemical causes cancer, but cautions that he is not 100 percent sure.
Other top pollution emission companies in 2002, in declining order, were:
Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., 970,000 pounds;
Foamex L.P., Corry, Pa., 724,000 pounds;
U.S. Sugar Corp., Bryant, Fla., 711,000 pounds;
Abbott Health Products Inc., Barcoloneta, Puerto Rico, 654,000 pounds;
Alcoa Eastalco Works, Frederick, Md., 608,000 pounds;
DDE, Louisville, 521,000 pounds;
Albemarle Corp., Orangeburg, S.C., 507,000 pounds.