[ View the story "Future of Louisiana community uncertain as chemical plant expands" on Storify] Future of Louisiana community uncertain as chemical plant expands Chemical giant Sasol offers to relocate residents for construction of new chemical facility.
AJAMStream· Fri, Mar 28 2014 14:09:19
The community has seen widespread
including cancer, respiratory problems, damage to the central nervous system, kidney and liver diseases, skin problems and digestive illnesses.
One Mossville resident, Edgar Mouton Jr., described the challenges faced by the community:
There is no place or person in Mossville that has not been harmed by the toxic chemicals spewed out by all of the industrial facilities.meannow.wordpress.com
Mossville residents have fought for their environmental rights for decades. Chemical contamination of the Mossville area in the 1990's
legal action and some home buyouts. A company called Condea Vista was found guilty of "wanton and reckless disregard of public safety" for a 1997 spill that contaminated Mossville's local estuary. Sasol acquired Condea Vista in 2001.
In 2005, the first human rights petition on environmental regulation was
on behalf of Mossville residents. That case is still pending. A 2012
lawsuit and petition
were filed on behalf of Mossville, asking the EPA to reconsider its decision to impose weaker emission standards for one Mossville plant that produces PVC. In December 2013, residents had to make phone calls to learn to shelter in place following an
and fire at a vinyl factory that released "unknown amounts" of carcinogens.
After living with the repercussions of local industry for so long, many Mossville residents are ready to get out, despite their bitterness at Sasol's contribution to making living conditions untenable.
In a statement provided to The Stream on March 27, Sasol said:
"The Voluntary Property Purchase Program has been well-received by the community. More than 80 percentof properties eligible for the program have registered to participate, meaningthat they have agreed to have their home appraised so we can make an offer. Ofthe offers we have made so far, more than 99 percent have been accepted."
Dorothy Felix, president of Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN),
that the Sasol program reflects the organization's advocacy for relocation and the desire of many residents to move away to protect their health. However, MEAN hopes to raise awareness on the
of heritage that will come with the end of the Mossville community, which was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.
Michael Hayes, manager of public affairs at Sasol’s office of new business development, had this to say on Mossville's legacy:
“The future of the community is in the hands of the community.”americanpress.com
Below are the results of a survey conducted by MEAN which asked Mossville residents what they would need in order to relocate:
One Mossville resident asked:
why should we have to start over, because Sasol has ruined the land we live onamericanpress.com
Sasol was founded in 1950 to provide energy to South Africa during the international fuel embargo against apartheid, which resonated with one Mossville resident:
These people are cut from the same cloth as Nelson Mandela, while SASOL was cut from the power structure that imprisioned a nation and Mandela himself for lifting his voice to fight for equally basic rights.americanpress.com
Monique Harden, co-director and attorney for
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
, shared the following statement with The Stream on March 27:
"As a company established to support the apartheid regime in South Africa, Sasol should know by now the power of people to overcome injustice. We are standing with the residents of Mossville, Louisiana in defense of their human rights."
However, one commentator pointed out that a buyout is what many have always wanted:
For years people have complained about living in Mossville, now they are being purchased outamericanpress.com
On a state level, the Sasol
has strong governmental and economic support. The facility would be the first built in the U.S. to convert natural gas from fracking into diesel fuel. Governor Bobby Jindal
the plant as "the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana."
The plan is expected to cost between $16 billion and $21 billion, and will benefit from
in state incentives. A Louisiana State University study estimated that Sasol's regional projects will have a
effect on the economy over the next 20 years. Sasol
the facility will create 7,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent positions. As part of the deal, Louisiana will fund an industrial technology training center in nearby Lake Charles.
At a December
about the Sasol plant, one woman expressed skepticism over whether any of those jobs would be filled by current Mossville residents:
You say you’ve got a million jobs out here. Who gets them? You’re sure not giving them to the people of Mossville.americanpress.com
However, it is likely that most Mossville residents will be long gone before the plant opens. In a statement before Congress, Felix
: "My grandchildren and great-grandchildren will never see and touch the natural beauty that was once Mossville."