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Chevron’s plastic-based boat fuel approval sparks cancer risk concerns: EPA under scrutiny

Approval was recently granted by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a boat fuel component derived from discarded plastic, Chevron made,  despite an outstanding cancer risk that has alarmed experts. The agency’s own risk assessment reveals an unprecedented level of danger: people exposed to this substance routinely over a lifetime are expected to develop cancer, a risk that’s higher than what the EPA typically deems acceptable for new chemicals.

For reasons undisclosed, the EPA dismissed their own scientists’ concerns about the risks and gave Chevron permission to produce the new boat fuel ingredient at their Mississippi refinery. Chevron promotes their new fuel as “clean energy” because of the implications that the company is using recycled plastics, but they are not acknowledging the consequences recycled plastics in fuel will have on the environment and people who work in close contact with the new fuel.

By law, the EPA has to give products a safety check before they hit the market. If there’s a whiff of unreasonable risks to health or the environment, the EPA’s supposed to take steps to reduce those risks before granting approval. But here’s the catch: critics are wondering if the EPA might’ve fallen a bit short in this case.

The risk assessment dropped a cancer risk bombshell – a 1.3 in 1 chance of getting cancer for people exposed to this fuel over their lifetime. That is considerably higher than what the EPA usually says is acceptable. The EPA’s own admission that they missed this in the consent order is raising the eyebrows of critics.

The Environmental Defense Fund and The Sierra Club,  environmental organizations, are calling attention to the EPA’s assessment of the cancer risks. They’re worried that they might be giving this plastic-based boat fuel a pass without fully protecting the public from potential hazards.

While the EPA’s proposed rule sounds good on paper – it’d require companies to check in before producing certain fuels – critics say we need a deeper dive into risk assessment and testing. 


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