(10 Sept., 1996 — New York) The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined the Canadian government, and other environmental and health groups in criticizing the Ethyl Corporation’s reported plans to file a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) claim today opposing Canadian legislation that would ban use of MMT, the controversial manganese-based fuel additive in that country. In addition, EDF today released results of a just completed survey showing that over 85% of US oil refiners have confirmed that they are not currently using MMT.
“We find it amazing that the Ethyl Corporation would call itself a victim of trade discrimination. The facts show that persistent public health and air quality concerns — not trade competition — have persuaded the Canadian government to remove this additive from the fuel supply,” said EDF attorney Bill Roberts. “In addition, our survey of US oil refiners shows that eighteen major US oil companies have confirmed they are not currently using MMT. BP America and Amerada Hess have just joined Arco, Anchor and Sunoco in promising to notify the public if their MMT plans change.”
“Clearly, oil refiners in the US are continuing to rebuff MMT, even though it has been legal to purchase since last year. Until pending health and automotive concerns with MMT are resolved, this is a product that deserves to sit on the shelf,” said Roberts.
“For the Ethyl Corporation to ask Canadian taxpayers to pay for lost profits on a product that could cause neurotoxic damage to millions of Canadian citizens is remarkably callous. Ethyl should remove MMT from the marketplace in both Canada and the US and complete the kind of health testing that will determine whether this product is safe,” said Roberts.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had refused to approve MMT for sale based on health concerns, but in December, 1995 was compelled to allow the sale by a narrow court ruling that did not address health issues. Airborne manganese at high doses has been found to cause disabling neurological impairments in movement and speech with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, but the public health impacts of the long-term, lower dose exposures resulting from MMT use are unknown. In addition, the American Automobile Manufacturer