Group blames health problems on Valero refinery - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Group blames health problems on Valero refinery

In the neighborhoods around the Valero Refinery Plant in Memphis Wednesday morning, residents complained about a litany of health problems they claim were caused by emissions from the plant.

"I was diagnosed a couple of years ago with brain cancer," said resident Charles Gray.

"For asthma and bronchitis, I've been treated for the last six years," said former resident Pastor R.L. Harris.

Wednesday, the residents and ministers showed reporters a Department of Justice news release that says in March of this year, Valero agreed to pay $2.2 million for environmental violations.  Furthermore, they said, the company in August agreed to spend $232million on Clean Air Act pollution controls.
  
The ministers said they were upset because no one told the people who live around Valero about the possible hazards. 

"Valero what have you done?" asked Pastor Frederick Tappan, another resident in the neighborhood. "We have not been told. We have not been educated about the situation. We want to know."

The group said they wanted Valero to make public why it was fined, and what progress it had made in its $232 million clean-up.   Group members said they also wanted to know why city and county leaders didn't warn them, and demand soil and water samples be taken in an area that was ordered to make millions of dollars in pollution control upgrades.

Late Wednesday, a representative for Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton's office said that the city and county are working on a plan to address the concerns outlined by the Department of Justice.
  
The representative confirmed that residents have not yet been notified, but said an official notification would be issued and $150,000 would be available for environmental enhancement grants in the neighborhoods surrounding the refinery.

When this story was posted, Valero had not yet responded to Action News 5's request for a comment.

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