As Hurricanes Bring Chemical Fires, Minority Neighborhoods Take a Hit

“Hurricane Laura rolled over a coast studded with refineries and chemical plants. Other storms have caused the release of toxic substances, often affecting poorer or minority communities.”

“A fire blazed, and acrid smoke poured from a Louisiana chemical factory, confirming fears that Hurricane Laura’s ravaging winds and water would release toxic pollution in a region central to the petrochemical industry that is increasingly exposed to major storms.

The Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, warned residents around the burning site, a Biolab Inc. plant near Lake Charles, to shelter in place and to “close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS.”

The Louisiana and Texas coastlines, which have endured many storms over the decades, are studded with sprawling facilities that produce fuel, plastics and other products. And while no one is safe when a hurricane strikes, poor and largely Black neighborhoods often located near industrial sites are particularly vulnerable.

Biolab is one of more than a dozen industrial facilities near one such community, Mossville, whose residents have long been exposed to the pollution that modern chemical manufacturing produces.”

John Schwartz and Hiroko Tabuchi report for the New York Times August 27, 2020.

SEE ALSO:

“Hurricane Laura Didn’t Cause Pollution In This Louisiana Town. It Just Added To It.” (Washington Post)