Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Communities at Risk

About the Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Communities at Risk Series

More than 100 petrochemical facilities line a stretch of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is known to industry as the “Petrochemical Corridor” and to locals as “Cancer Alley.” This series documents the fenceline communities abutting this industrial activity and their efforts to push back against the companies they say are already polluting their air and water and which are often trying to expand further into these neighborhoods. 

In This Series

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State regulators left the public in the dark for weeks after a major diesel fuel spill near New Orleans. The spill came from a pipeline owned by a company the state had just granted a permit to a nearby project.

State regulators left the public in the dark for weeks after a major diesel fuel spill near New Orleans. The spill came from a pipeline owned by a company the state had just granted a permit to a nearby project.
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Climate advocates in Louisiana warn that environmental justice goals will be tough to meet in a state where the governor keeps welcoming new fossil fuel development.

Climate advocates in Louisiana warn that environmental justice goals will be tough to meet in a state where the governor keeps welcoming new fossil fuel development.
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Despite widespread destruction, the surging pandemic, toxic air, and racial inequality, members of the Concerned Citizens of St. John plan to rebuild.

Despite widespread destruction, the surging pandemic, toxic air, and racial inequality, members of the Concerned Citizens of St. John plan to rebuild.
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Photos from around the plant show how vulnerable fossil fuel facilities are to extreme weather on the Gulf Coast and how that may compound the pollution for their neighbors in Cancer Alley.

Photos from around the plant show how vulnerable fossil fuel facilities are to extreme weather on the Gulf Coast and how that may compound the pollution for their neighbors in Cancer Alley.
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Residences near where Formosa plans to build a sprawling petrochemical complex were severely impacted by winds from Ida, fueled by the Gulf’s unusually warm waters.

Residences near where Formosa plans to build a sprawling petrochemical complex were severely impacted by winds from Ida, fueled by the Gulf’s unusually warm waters.
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A Louisiana Cancer Alley community group responded by petitioning the EPA to take emergency action to reduce carcinogenic emissions.

A Louisiana Cancer Alley community group responded by petitioning the EPA to take emergency action to reduce carcinogenic emissions.
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Human rights experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement on March 2 raising concerns about the further industrialization of Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” This larg...
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Higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death have been found in people living in a stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge lined with over a hundred refineries and petrochemical plants.

Higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death have been found in people living in a stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge lined with over a hundred refineries and petrochemical plants.
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“It took courage for Senator Cassidy to vote against Trump,” Sharon Lavigne, the founder of the faith-based grassroots organization RISE St. James, said about the Louisiana Republican after the imp...
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The disproportionate toll that COVID-19 is taking on the Black community brought environmental justice issues to the forefront during 2020. Calls for dealing with climate change and environmental j...
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Community leaders long at odds with the powerful petrochemical industry in Louisiana took note when their Congressional representative, Cedric Richmond, announced November 12 that he was taking a n...
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Environmental and community groups in Louisiana are elated after what they see as two back-to-back wins in their fight to protect fenceline communities from additional petrochemical industry pollut...
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Having no nationwide testing and contact tracing protocol several months into the pandemic is taking its toll in Louisiana, and especially in its predominantly African-American communities in Cance...
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Two Louisiana environmental activists, Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, were taken in handcuffs and leg irons from a Baton Rouge police station to jail after they voluntarily surrendered themselves o...
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“I feel like our ancestors are shouting and rejoicing in heaven about what we did for them today,” Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, a community group fighting petrochemical plant construc...
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On Friday, June 12, Louisiana's Democratic governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign off on a piece of legislation, House Bill 197, that would make it a more serious crime to trespass on Louisi...
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Confirming fears, cases of COVID-19 have been spreading at an alarming rate in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, an 80 mile stretch along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that is l...
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“Our people aren’t prepared for a pandemic,” Robert Taylor, executive director of the Concerned Citizens of St. John The Baptist Parish, told me a couple of days before the governor of Louisiana is...
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A large fire at ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge oil refinery late on February 11 lit up the sky for miles and continued until dawn. The night of the fire, ExxonMobil representatives claimed that air monit...
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This report was produced as part of ivoh’s Restorative Narrative Fellowship. On the evening of January 6, Louisiana state regulators issued 15 key permits to the Taiwanese petrochemical corporatio...
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Mounting concerns over pollution, public health, and the expansion of the petrochemical industry came to a head when two activists were detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 30, the last d...
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Chinese giant Wanhua Chemical officially withdrew its plans to build a $1.25 billion plastics manufacturing complex in St. James, Louisiana, in the heart of the already industrialized Cancer Alley....
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On August 7, after Geraldine Mayho’s funeral, her body was laid to rest in the St. James Catholic Cemetery in southern Louisiana, across the street from a cluster of oil storage tanks. The tanks ar...
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“Look at what is coming into the Parish, instead of saying ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’—it is time to say ‘No,’” Pastor Harry Joseph told the St. James Parish Council on July 24. He implored councilmembers t...
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Yesterday, I stopped writing another story for DeSmog to get ready for what could likely become this year’s first hurricane in the U.S.  I live in Mandeville, Louisiana, on the north shore of Lake...
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Last month, four residents from Louisiana neighborhoods impacted by air pollution traveled far from their Mississippi River parishes to Washington, D.C., and Tokyo, Japan, seeking help in their str...
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On June 3, at the end of a five-day march through stifling heat in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, activists fighting against environmental racism reached their goal of bringing attention to their area’s...
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On May 30, around 100 people took part on the first day of a planned five-day march for environmental justice in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. Amid sweltering heat, the march kicked off in St. John the...
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“Take a deep breath” is common advice for helping people to relax. However, that advice has the opposite effect on some citizens who live in heavily polluted Louisiana communities along the Mississ...
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“You don’t give a shit about brown and black people,” Louisiana activist Cherri Foytlin told government officials during a heated public permit hearing for a proposed plastics plant in St. James Pa...
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On September 8,  “Rise for Climate” events took place in 95 countries around the world, pressing leaders to take action on climate change and other environmental issues, a week before a global summ...
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What should be done about a chemical plant in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish that releases chloroprene — a chemical so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined nearb...
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Sixty-year-old Keith Hunter lived in St. James, Louisiana, for roughly 27 years, and during that time, he watched as the sugarcane farms gave way to oil storage tanks and as a railroad terminal was...
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This past year in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, a small group of residents began organizing their community to compel the state to protect them against an invisible menace: the air they ...
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Early morning skies Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were alight from a fire that started around 2:30 a.m. at an ExxonMobil refinery. The blaze, though contained before the sun came up, is a re...
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If you drive along one of the main streets in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, you may encounter a large sign warning about chloroprene in the air. These signs let people know that chemical...
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A group of residents in St. Gabriel, a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is no stranger to industrial pollution. The small town is on the banks of the Mississippi River in a stretch of land between...
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It doesn’t take carefully calibrated measurements to realize there is something wrong with the air around the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana.  From a s...