Glenola: After the plant closed
Many of the 170 employees at Trinity opposed what they perceived as unfair targeting of their company. When the state closed the plant, these employees picketed the local and state health departments. However, the company remained closed.
Although Trinity was originally set to undergo emissions testing and reopen, the EPA issued an Administrative Order prohibiting Trinity from manufacturing foam or fiber. The ATSDR also said that its investigation strongly suggested Trinity had been emitting hazardous materials into the air at dangerous levels.
After Trinity production stopped, an employee of the state Division of Epidemiology noted that levels of TDI in the air decreased to safe levels.
The state contracted with a medical center to conduct clinical evaluations of Glenola residents. Tests showed that 22% of subjects showed symptoms of reactive airway disease, a disorder similar to asthma. The study concluded that residents were exposed to TDI and suffered negative health effects as a result.
In July 2001, ATSDR released another report indicating that 15 to 40% of children who grew up near Trinity facilities developed asthma.
After Trinity closed, the state issued warnings to four other foam plants in the state, giving them six months to reduce their TDI emissions.
As the Trinity plant was being closed, another North Carolina foam manufacturer was phasing out use of methylene chloride in all of their North Carolina plants, replacing it with acetone, a less hazardous substance that also appears to be more efficient than methylene chloride.
“To the very end we cared about people’s jobs. I care about people’s jobs today, but I know they all got good jobs in safer environments than they were in here. . . . You can go find you another job, but once your health is stolen from you, taken from you, it’s gone, never to be replaced.”
– Community Member