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Chemical industry representatives Friday criticized as impractical a Greenpeace call for a total ban on chlorine production in the Great Lakes area.

"Greenpeace totally ignores this chemical's vast economic and societal benefits, as well as the weight of scientific evidence showing that it can be manufactured and used in a manner that protects human health and the environment," said Joseph L. Walker of the Chlorine Institute.

Greenpeace, in a report released during International Joint Commission hearings, claimed production of the common chlorine-based plastic PVC "may be the world's largest source of dioxin" and urged a federal investigation into whether the toxin occurs near PVC facilities here at the same levels that Greenpeace scientists reported in Europe.

Chlorine is a common chemical produced and used in Great Lakes area plants. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is used in pipes, siding, wire and cable insulation, credit cards and other products.

Walker cited a study showing that "it would cost each and every U.S. and Canadian family more than $1,400 a year, over $100 billion total, to give up chlorine in favor of substitutes that may not perform as well, or carry health and environmental baggage."

"Greenpeace does not tell you this. And they do not explain that in New York State, more than 29,000 people working at 140 plants, many in Western New York, are dependent on chlorine for their livelihood. These employees add some $680 million in salary and wages to the economy."

The Vinyl Institute, a national trade association representing makers who produced more than 9.1 billion pounds of PVC during 1991, said Greenpeace "substitutes misleading rhetoric for intelligence."

The institute also said other research showed dioxin levels near the European plants about 100 times lower than the Greenpeace findings.

"The manufacturing process for PVC has been stringently regulated for many years, and the industry has made significant reductions in its emissions," the institute noted.

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