United Steelworkers Union Holds Community Educational Forum

Press Conference in Corpus Christi on Dangers, Alternatives to Hydrogen Fluoride Use in Refineries


Contact: Lynne Baker, USW Communications, o) 615-831-6782, c) 615-828-6169

WHAT:   The community educational forum will include presentations by an expert on hydrogen fluoride and a vendor offering an alternative chemical process. A question and answer session will follow the program. The press conference is open only to the press and will give journalists an opportunity to ask questions of most of the speakers.

WHEN:    Educational Forum—Wed., Nov. 11; 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
             Press Conference—Thur., Nov. 12; 11:00 am (Central)

WHERE:  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Hall
             2301 Saratoga Blvd.
             Corpus Christi, Texas

SPEAKERS:  Fred Millar, Ph.D (Consultant on chemical accident prevention)
                 Dr. Melissa L. Jarrell P.D. (Citizens for Environmental Justice)
                 Dr. James Nelhsen (Process development manager at Exelus, Inc.)
                 Suzie Canalez (Executive director, Citizens for Environmental Justice)
                 Neil J. Carman, Ph.D (Sierra Club)
                 Jean Salone (Refinery neighbor, Citizens for Environmental Justice)

(Biographies for the speakers are at the end of this advisory.)

WHY:    The USW wants to educate community leaders, workers, emergency responders and the citizens of Corpus Christi to the dangers of using hydrogen fluoride in the refining process and that there are alternative processes that could be used by refiners here and across the U.S.

Journalists from out-of-town can participate in the press conference via teleconference. To obtain the call-in phone number, meeting ID number and password contact Lynne Baker, USW communications, at lbaker@usw.org, o) 615-831-6782, c) 615-828-6169.

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Fred Millar, Ph.D
Fred Millar, Ph.D. is a consultant on homeland security, hazardous materials transportation, and chemical accident prevention, with clients including major transportation unions, the District of Columbia City Council, and national environmental groups.  Most recently he led a national campaign and initiated a federal counter-terrorism law to protectively re-route chemical cargoes away from major target cities, and was for 17 years the Toxics Director at Friends of the Earth. 

He is an international expert and lobbyist in nuclear waste transportation and chemical accident prevention, consultant to the major U.S. chemical and oil worker unions, and has networked with industry, government, and citizen groups. 

Dr. Millar initiated and lobbied along with labor allies for the Chemical Accident Prevention provisions (Section 112 r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 under which 15,000 chemical facilities have produced comprehensive Risk Management Plans including worst case release scenarios.  For many years he served on the District of Columbia Local Emergency Planning Committee. 

On hazmat and terrorism-related issues he has testified in Congress on chemical safety legislation and in the Chicago, Baltimore and Washington DC councils on proposed re-routing ordinances; made presentations to the Transportation Security Administration/US Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard Chemical Transportation Advisory Committee; and written guest opinion pieces for trade journals and been often quoted in major media. 

Dr. Melissa L. Jarrell P.D.
Dr. Melissa L. Jarrell is assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She is currently engaged in research regarding upset events and the petroleum refining industry. A recent examination of upset events at Corpus Christi refineries found over 7,500 cases from 2003-08. Upsets occurred almost daily, producing approximately 8.5 million pounds of pollution and volatile organic compounds. Conclusions from the findings suggest that upset provisions may require revision in the interest of sound policy and public health.

Dr. James Nehlsen
James Nehlsen is a process development manager at Exelus, Inc. in Livingston, NJ where he has developed new catalytic processes for refinery alkylation, styrene monomer production, and second-generation biofuels, including over four years working with the ExSact solid-acid catalyzed alkylation technology. He previously worked as a Senior Process Development Engineer at Exelus, investigating technologies related to hydrogen production and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. His work at Exelus includes catalyst design, process engineering, and business development.

He holds a BS in chemical engineering from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University where he developed new techniques for
desulfurization. Email: jpnehlsen@exelusinc.com

Suzie Canales
The death of Suzie Canales’ sister to breast cancer is what inspired Suzie and her family to form Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ) in January 2000. As Executive Director of CFEJ, Suzie Canales has been instrumental in bringing Corpus Christi’s Environmental Justice issues to the local, state, and national level.

Successes include: birth defects studies with the state showing Corpus Christi has 84% higher overall birth defects rates than Texas—these birth defects studies brought a great awareness to this serious public health issue not only locally, but statewide—a landmark bio-monitoring study in Hillcrest that found very high levels of benzene and other volatile organic compounds in the blood of adults and in the urine of children tested; successful bucket brigade program.

It was CFEJ’s sampling regarding the February 22, 2008 CITGO event that spewed hot oil into the community that led to an enforcement action from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). 

Suzie wrote and released reports: “Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs): The Most Impacted Communities Are Not Receiving Satisfactory Benefits” and “Criminal Injustice in an All American City.” Suzie’s awards include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Award for Outstanding Achievements in Environmental Justice, The HERO award from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) National Institute for Environmental Health and Sciences (NIEHS) for Outstanding Service to Environmental Health and Justice Advocacy and a Community Service Award from HIALCO for time and dedication to improving the community.  
Neil J. Carman, Ph.D
Neil J. Carman, has a Ph.D. in biological sciences emphasizing plant chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and has taught at UT Austin. He served as an investigator at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s air program (Texas Air Control Board) from 1980-1992 inspecting 200 industrial plants a year, including refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants, natural gas processing plants, fertilizer plants, cement kilns, power plants, incinerators, steel fabrication and other facilities.
These investigations led to violations at several dozen plants and enforcement cases resulting in millions of dollars in penalties and corrective actions. A whistleblower case and media coverage in 1989 led to the largest Clean Air Act lawsuit filed in Texas until recently against a major company for serious violations.

He has worked with Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter on industrial air pollution across Texas for over 17 years. Finally, he has been involved in multiple Clean Air Act lawsuits against industrial plants for CAA violations in Texas and against the U.S. EPA for illegal rules.

Jean Salone
Jean Salone has lived in the fence-line community of Hillcrest since 1964. She raised two sons and worked in the school district and for the Housing Authority. Jean was thrust into the public eye when she was chosen by the U.S. Department of Justice to be the star witness representing the community during the landmark USA vs. CITGO criminal trial in 2007 that led to the first conviction of an oil refiner for violations of the Clean Air Act.

Jean has worked tirelessly with Citizens for Environmental Justice for several years. Her accomplishments include being the chairperson on the landmark bio-monitoring study that found very high levels of benzene and other chemicals in the people tested in her community and working on ways to be able to relocate the people along refinery row that want to relocate, at a price fair to the community.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-6961

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222