Tuesday, October 02, 2007

From last week's City Strobe:

Thank you sir, may I have another?
Last Saturday, many local citizens gave up their cars for World Car-Free Day, which was sort of like burning a stick of Nag Champa in a Port-A-John on day 10 of the Derby Festival. A nice thought, but the stink is already entrenched. And it might seem tough to focus on the emissions coming from all our jammed traffic when the city’s got Rubbertown chemical plants spewing carcinogens into the air.

But Rubbertown neighbors are fighting back. In an August settlement, residents won a class action requiring Zeon Chemicals to install a thermal oxidizer to reduce the cancer-causing chemical 1,3-butadiene, and to reduce emissions of styrene and acrylonitrile (which help put the “lay” in latex).

If they agree to the $5.3 million settlement, Zeon’s closest neighbors would also receive $1,200-$1,800 each, which won’t pay to remove a tumor, but hey, times are tough. In order to receive their settlement, though, neighbors must sign an agreement to A) not say anything negative about the company; B) not file another lawsuit; C) collect no damages from the company for 10 years; and D) allow a Zeon executive to come by once a month and administer a wedgie. OK, D is a slight exaggeration.

Besides hamstringing its neighbors from keeping an eye on future violations, the agreement would effectively silence Rubbertown’s most vocal advocates. District Judge John G. Heyburn II will review the fairness of the appropriately named gag rule in November.

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