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I am Ram

The Louisiana Environmental Apocalypse Road Trip

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https://longreads.com/2017/07/13/the-louisiana-environmental-apocalypse-road-trip/

A long but fascinating read about how incredibly totally and completely +++++ed up Louisiana is environmentally. It reads like a description of late 19th century England, but this is happening in 2017 right here in America. Some excerpts:

Quote

The risk of cancer in Reserve, a community founded by freed slaves, is 800 times the national average, making the community, by one EPA metric, the most carcinogenic census tract in America—the cause is a DuPont/Denka chemical plant adjacent to the town that annually spews 250,000 pounds of the likely carcinogen chloroprene into the air. If you think the situation in Flint is bad, there are approximately 400 public water systems in Louisiana with lead or other hazardous substances leaching into the drinking water. Meanwhile, hundreds of petrochemical plants peppered across the state’s lush swampy interior freely emit carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxins into the air and water, as well as inject them deep into the earth.

[...]

We begin beneath a shade tree on Croydon Street, in the state capitol of Baton Rouge, where Lieutenant General Russel Honore shares with us a one-line lesson in Louisiana economics. “We have some of the most profound natural resources in America, and we are the second largest energy producer, but we are the second poorest state,” says the General. “Now what the +++++ is wrong with that picture?”

The General is an epic Louisiana hero. In the dark violent days after Hurricane Katrina, he was tapped to lead Joint Taskforce Katrina and roared into the beleaguered city to control the chaos. A Times-Picayune reporter called him a “salty-mouthed, cigar-chompin’ guardian angel in camouflage.” Now, at age 69, rather than winding his career down with rum and cokes on some tropical beach, the General has transformed himself into a venom-spitting environmental warrior. He leads a guerilla posse of activists called the GreenARMY, whose aim is to rescue Louisiana’s poisoned communities and environment. Soldiers tirelessly crisscross the state, chastising toxic corporations and lame duck regulatory agencies at public meetings and standing up for the people. We lay out a map of Louisiana and the General, dressed in Army cap, navy blue blazer, and leather boots hurls out a laundry list of catastrophes.

“This is about as stupid as stupid gets!” he spits, diving into a story that conveys how Louisiana’s lax oversight can actually lead to things exploding. A military facility in northern Louisiana called Camp Minden contained 18 million pounds of old explosives, much of which had been stored improperly by a military contractor, including gigantic 880-pound sacks of propellant left outdoors and exposed to the baking Louisiana sun. On October 15, 2012, a tremendous explosion rocked the site, shattering windows in homes four miles away, generating a toxic mushroom cloud that rose 7,000 feet into the atmosphere. The local sheriff told people the cause may have been “a meteor.”

One hundred miles south in Colfax, a company called Clean Harbors has been burning old military and industrial explosives out in the open on metal sheets, releasing arsenic, lead and radioactive strontium into the environment. “Here we are in the 21st century and they’re using Roman army methods,” fumes the General. The burns are illegal under the Clean Air Act but Clean Harbors was granted an exemption by Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality. “This is one of the few places in America an open air burn of military explosives would even be permitted,” he says. Activities too toxic for other parts of America are regularly shuttled to Louisiana, often at the eager request of the state’s politicians. “Louisiana,” says the General, “is a dumping ground.”

[...]

Residents in Bossier City, Louisiana, near the Arkansas border, have also suffered from living adjacent to a wood preservation plant. A Louisiana State University toxicologist found leukemia rates here to be 40 times the national average. In 2001, a reporter visited the community and spoke to Harold Quigley, who grew up beside a ditch the plant used to funnel away creosote waste. “He spent summer nights sleeping on the side porch, breathing the fumes from the plant,” the reporter noted. Harold’s family health history: two cousins lost to leukemia; sister had breast cancer and also suffered an aneurism; mother developed four different types of cancer; two brothers both got skin cancer and both bore sons with birth defects; a nephew’s wife has birthed two stillborn babies.

The wind whistles through our shade tree. Even this pleasant late spring morning breeze feels suspicious. “Here we are,” the General sighs, paraphrasing Ansel Adams, “fighting our own government for clean air.”

The General grew up on a farm in tiny Lakeland, Louisiana, one of 12 children. “We never worried about having enough money because we never had enough money,” he said during a May 2016 TED Talk. About 7 miles from his home, in New Roads, the Big Cajun II coal-burning power plant continues to spray the fine country air with neurotoxins, mutagens—compounds that can alter an organism’s DNA—and teratogens—compounds capable of disturbing the development of a fetus. In a nearby parish is Belle River, a fishing community of 107 households on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest bottomland hardwood swamp in America. Since the mid-1980s an environmental service company has been shipping industrial waste from across the nation and injecting it deep beneath the swamp. “What a great +++++ing concept,” smacks the General.

 

  • Facepalm 1

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3 hours ago, BSUTOP25 said:

When it come to pollutant air particles, California is the worst offender by far.

Is this supposed to be the start of a red state vs. blue state discussion? This is an article about Louisiana, not California. I'm sure there are plenty about California as well. 

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4 hours ago, BSUTOP25 said:

That's terrible!  You must repeal as many regulations as possible to combat this atrocity!

Isn't most city air pollution ozone? 

I'd put the Louisiana issue into a different category as it's a specific carcinogen being released by a specific corporation. 

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11 minutes ago, I am Ram said:

Is this supposed to be the start of a red state vs. blue state discussion? This is an article about Louisiana, not California. I'm sure there are plenty about California as well. 

No, not a red vs blue state thing. Just pointing out that California is a horrible polluter, far worse than any other state.

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3 minutes ago, Boise fan said:

That's terrible!  You must repeal as many regulations as possible to combat this atrocity!

Isn't most city air pollution ozone? 

I'd put the Louisiana issue into a different category as it's a specific carcinogen being released by a specific corporation. 

Seems the issue(s) in Louisiana is(are) statewide according to that article I am Ram posted.

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18 minutes ago, I am Ram said:

@AndroidAggie: What's the face palm for?

The substance of the message, not the content nor the poster.  That Louisiana is 2nd richest in oil but 2nd poorest.  That there's so many egregious violations of environmental impact.  It sucks.

The brilliance of capitalism is *supposed* to be the safeguards of natural prevention.  "Oh, I shouldn't go too far making these chemicals because I'll kill the golden goose and so hey, let's find a different way to do it."  Real life: "lulz pollution"

It's sad.  And it's a facepalm.

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19 minutes ago, BSUTOP25 said:

No, not a red vs blue state thing. Just pointing out that California is a horrible polluter, far worse than any other state.

I'm sure some of my CSU brethren can speak to this, but much of the pollution referenced for California, particularly for the worst offenders of Fresno and Bakersfield, is PM 2.5 and PM 10 (i.e., dust). If you have lots of agriculture in a big valley surrounded on all sides by hills and mountains, you're going to have dust. Sort of the price paid for growing the lion's share of the nation's vegetables. If I had to choose between that and Louisiana air, I'll be stuck in Lodi.

Your blanket statement about California is not accurate.

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5 minutes ago, Old_SD_Dude said:

I'm sure some of my CSU brethren can speak to this, but much of the pollution referenced for California, particularly for the worst offenders of Fresno and Bakersfield, is PM 2.5 and PM 10 (i.e., dust). If you have lots of agriculture in a big valley surrounded on all sides by hills and mountains, you're going to have dust. Sort of the price paid for growing the lion's share of the nation's vegetables. If I had to choose between that and Louisiana air, I'll be stuck in Lodi.

Is farming dust considered ozone pollution? If so, you have point. 

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11 minutes ago, BSUTOP25 said:

Seems the issue(s) in Louisiana is(are) statewide according to that article I am Ram posted.

You're right, the issues are statewide.  I became focused on the town of Reserve, and their risk of cancer being 800 times the national average making the community, by one EPA metric, the most carcinogenic census tract in America—the cause being a DuPont/Denka chemical plant adjacent to the town that annually spews 250,000 pounds of the likely carcinogen chloroprene into the air.

My bad.

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20 minutes ago, Boise fan said:

You're right, the issues are statewide.  I became focused on the town of Reserve, and their risk of cancer being 800 times the national average making the community, by one EPA metric, the most carcinogenic census tract in America—the cause being a DuPont/Denka chemical plant adjacent to the town that annually spews 250,000 pounds of the likely carcinogen chloroprene into the air.

My bad.

Sounds like a metric the current EPA needs to get rid of.

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2 minutes ago, Old_SD_Dude said:

Sounds like a metric the current EPA needs to get rid of.

I'm sure DuPont thinks so!

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3 hours ago, BSUTOP25 said:

No, not a red vs blue state thing. Just pointing out that California is a horrible polluter, far worse than any other state.

Got it. It is. But it's also by far the most productive state in the country, and of course the state with the largest population by far. So you could argue that CA at least gets a lot out of its pollution. Louisiana, on the other hand, is just the nation's dumping ground. 

As an aside, a significant portion of the air pollution along the West Coast now originates in Asia. In fact, smog levels in CA have risen recently despite major cuts in domestic emissions.That's just one reason, we need a strong dialogue with Asia on pollution and climate change.

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I think the Central Valley in CA is one of the most seemingly polluted places I've ever been in the state there, outside of maybe the LA Basin. Not only do they generate their own dust and diesel fuel emissions, but they also get a lot of the bad pollution from the Bay Area that blows over the "mountains" there and into the Valley.

As for Louisiana, well, it's always seemed like a toxic waste dump, but there are some charming places there. 

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Another interesting aside: Louisiana is literally sinking into the sea and has a 50-90 billion dollar master plan in place to restore its coast. They are lobbying Washington like crazy. The governor and some parishes are even getting ready to sue oil and gas companies, which have contributed to the eroding coastline. All this is happening without any mentioning of climate change because, well... Louisiana politicians don't talk about climate change publicly even when residents are already being relocated from the coastal areas. Everyone knows what's going on, but no one talks about it. 

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