The United Steelworkers (USW); the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) have initiated a lawsuit against a company they say failed to disclose the release of toxic chemicals that can cause liver and kidney damage, among other health problems.

In a statement issued last week, the USW says a notice of intent to file suit has been filed against OMNOVA Solutions, Inc. for insufficient reporting of the use, storage and release of toxic chemicals from the company’s decorative products facility in Monroe, N.C.

“Community members and workers have the need as well as the right to know about hazardous chemicals used and released by OMNOVA,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “Corporations like OMNOVA need to come clean and fully inform the public and workers about toxic chemicals stored at their facilities and released into communities.”

OMNOVA Vice President of Communications Sandi Noah denied the allegations. "OMNOVA has an excellent record of compliance at all of our facilities and we believe we met our reporting obligations in this case."

The groups allege that the company failed to accurately complete and submit required Toxic Chemical Release Forms for 2008 and 2009, to report discharges of Toluene and Isopropyl alcohol to the environment. They charge that OMNOVA also failed to file required storage Inventory Forms for Toluene. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), the company could be subject to civil penalties up to $32,500 per violation, per day with liabilities that ultimately could reach millions of dollars.

“We cannot allow companies to ignore toxic chemical reporting; it's our right to know," said Louis Zeller, Legal Director, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), toluene and isopropyl alcohol can cause liver and kidney damage, as well as dizziness, muscle fatigue and eye and nose irritation.

OMNOVA Solutions, Inc. has been contacted and its response to the notice of intent action will be posted online as soon as it is received.