ROUGE, LA - June 22 - From the steps of the State Capitol building, Greenpeace
today launched a "Toxics Patrol" bus trip to more than a dozen of the state's
chemical facilities whose emissions have made Louisiana a "global toxic hot spot."
The bus tour begins with stops at three controversial facilities: Rhodia, the
nation's first napalm incinerator; Formosa, which makes components of vinyl; and
Dow, another vinyl producer which plans to partner with Shintech on its newly-proposed
vinyl plant in West Baton Rouge.
Joined by representatives of several
state and local environmental groups, Greenpeace displayed specially created signs
it plans to post at chemical facilities, warning that toxic pollution "does not
stop at the fence."
"Louisiana ranks number one in the
nation in per-capita toxic releases to the environment, and her citizens are bearing
a terrible health burden for it," said Greenpeace Toxics campaigner Damu Smith.
"Our Toxics Patrol is out to expose some of the state's worst toxic offenders."
Greenpeace also responded today
to a March invitation from Governor Mike Foster to meet. In a letter the group
released today, Greenpeace said it will meet with the Governor but that
"…we would prefer to meet
with you along with representatives of the many people in Louisiana whose lives,
families and communities are being severely harmed by your environmental policies….
The economic planners and environmental policy makers under your and previous
administrations have made Louisiana home to some of the most dangerous and polluting
industries ever built…. Louisiana is at the center of the nations growing problem
of environmental racism and injustice…. You seem to dismiss this issue as if the
problem does not exist…."
Recent blood tests of citizens in
Mossville – a predominantly African American community situated in the midst of
the PVC manufacturers Condea Vista, PPG, and Westlake – have turned up dioxin
levels as high as twice the national average.
Greenpeace has declared Louisiana
a "Global Toxic Hot Spot" because the toxic emissions created in Louisiana – particularly
from those industries involved in the manufacture of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride,
or PVC) – can also contaminate people and the environment thousands of miles away.
The week-long tour
kicks off just as some in Congress are trying to prevent the publishing of worst-case
accident scenarios for the nation's chemical producing facilities. "This is merely
another industry attempt to keep the public in the dark about the dangerous nature
of the chemicals being produced in their midst every day," Smith said. "Given
some 200 chemical facilities between Lake Charles and New Orleans, Louisiana citizens
have a tremendous stake in knowing exactly what could happen to them in the event
of a catastrophic accident."