Gather current and former Mossville, Louisiana, residents in a room and you’re likely to hear a litany of health problems and a list of friends and relatives who died young.
“I got cancer. My dad had cancer. In fact, he died of cancer. It’s a lot of people in this area who died of cancer,” says Herman Singleton Jr., 51, who also lost two uncles and an aunt to cancer.
Singleton and many others in this predominantly African-American community in southwest Louisiana suspect the 14 chemical plants nearby have played a role in the cancer and other diseases they say have ravaged the area.
For decades, Mossville residents have complained about their health problems to industry, and to state and federal agencies. Now with a new Environmental Protection Agency administrator outspoken about her commitment to environmental justice, expectations are growing…
Lisa Jackson, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the first African-American administrator of the EPA, this year listed environmental justice as one of her seven priorities…
Thousands of pounds of carcinogens such as benzene and vinyl chloride are released from the facilities near Mossville each year, according to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.
Robert Bullard, author of “Dumping in Dixie,” says it’s no surprise industry chose Mossvillle, an unincorporated community founded by African Americans in the 1790s.
Without the power, Bullard says, African-Americans have borne the brunt of living near industry, landfills and hazardous facilities…
Bullard says Jackson has breathed new life into environmental justice since she took office last year. During the previous eight years, he says, “environmental justice was non-existent or invisible.”
Some residents of Mossville have blood dioxin levels three times above acceptable levels. When the EPA reviewed such tests during the Bush years their decision was that people shouldn’t worry about that.
Dioxin has a wonderful history at home and abroad. The United States used it as central to Agent Orange and never did squat about the damage done to Vietnamese – or American servicemen. A supposedly pristine trout river in Connecticut had bans put in place and corporations picked up the tab for care for families that had been eating dioxin-flavored fish.
Color is always an acceptable reason for differentiating everything from health care to pollution – in America.