Precision Castparts: Pollution study ‘deeply flawed’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland-based manufacturer claims that a recent report designating it the worst toxic air polluter in the United States is “deeply flawed.”

In a statement Wednesday, Precision Castparts — which makes steel and titanium components for the aerospace, defense and automobile industries — alleged that the Toxic100 study released last week by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst “is grossly misleading and uses flawed assumptions in several key areas.”

Precision Castparts has three local plants — in Clackamas, Milwaukie and Portland. Its main Johnson Creek facility is just blocks from several Southeast Portland residential neighborhoods, including Eastmoreland, Woodstock and Brentwood-Darlington. The study’s findings are an aggregate of Precision’s 40 plants located throughout the country. However, approximately one-third of Precision’s total pollution score came solely from its three Portland plants.

The report, based on 2010 data  from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, looked at thousands of industrial facilities across the country and factored in the quantity of pollutants released, the toxicity level of those chemicals, geographic and weather variables such as winds and smokestack heights, and the number of people exposed to the pollution.

“The study assigns false high toxicity levels to the metal emissions from Precision Castparts Corp. manufacturing facilities,” Precision stated. “The authors of the study assume that metal releases to the atmosphere have the same toxicity as the most toxic material within the category. “

Precision cited its chromium emissions as an example of the report’s shortcomings.

“The PERI study data assumes that nearly all of the company’s chromium emissions are of the most toxic form.  However, nearly all of PCC’s chromium emissions are in the form of metal dust with very low toxicity.  PERI’s reasoning leads to inaccurate assumptions and conclusions regarding the potential hazard associated with the facilities.”

Precision also stated that the EPA itself did not intend for its data to be interpreted this way.

“The PERI study uses EPA data in a way that the EPA itself warns against.  The EPA is very specific about the fact that its findings should not be used in an improper manner. “

The other companies that rounded out the top five were E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Biomet, Inc., Bayer Group and the Dow Chemical Co.

To read Precision’s full response, click here. 

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