Environmental Justice: “St. James Parish Takes on Big Plastic”

“In Cancer Alley, residents are fighting a new plastics factory, arguing its placement “reflects a racist society.””

“Beneath a searing Louisiana sun, a crowd gathers on a former sugar cane plantation to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Rows of unmarked graves stand nearby—believed to be the resting place of those who’d been enslaved on the plantation. A few people, clad in face masks, hold up a banner: Honoring Our Ancestors. Another sign, staked into the grass, is aimed not at the past, but at the future: FORMOSA: YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.

Since 2018, this land in Welcome, Louisiana, has belonged to FG LA LLC (FG), an affiliate of Taiwanese manufacturing conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group. Here, the company plans to build a nearly 1,000-hectare, US $9.4-billion plastics factory known as the Sunshine Project. Forecasts project that the factory will release substantial plastic and carcinogenic pollution into a region already known as Cancer Alley.

Sixty-eight-year-old Sharon Lavigne, a retired teacher and lifelong resident of Welcome, a town of 800 in St. James Parish, has seen businesses and residents leave the area as industry has moved in. Her neighbors and family have grown ill, she says, from exposure to industrial pollutants. In 2018, she founded RISE St. James, a faith-based grassroots organization that works against racial and environmental inequality, to give her community a fighting chance.”

Erica Cirino reports for Hakai magazine June 26, 2020.

SEE ALSO:

“Environmental Activists Decry Felony Arrests as Intimidation” (Courthouse News)

“Police Condemned for Charging Peaceful Environmentalists With ‘Terrorizing' in Louisiana” (Common Dreams)