Julie Dermansky's blog

Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Residents Sue Chemical Plant for Nearly 50 Years of Air Pollution

Three African American men in red t-shirts from the Concerned Citizens of St. John Louisiana stand by a sign warning of cancer risk from chloroprene emissions

If you drive along one of the main streets in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, you may encounter a large sign warning about chloroprene in the air. These signs let people know that chemical emissions from the nearby DuPont facility, now owned by Denka, can greatly increase the risk of cancer for those who live around it. 

We are being killed by chemicals that the state is allowing Denka and DuPont to pollute our air with,” Robert Taylor, founder of Concerned Citizens of St. John, told me while the group posted the signs. “Putting up signs is one of the steps we are taking, so that later no one can say they didn’t know we are being poisoned.”

Taylor, a 76-year-old retired general contractor, is one of 13 plaintiffs suing Denka Performance Elastomer and E.I. du Pont de Nemours (DuPont), the companies responsible for the chloroprene emissions fouling the air in LaPlace and nearby towns for 48 years. The plant is located along the Mississippi River on a stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge known as Cancer Alley. 

Jackie Dill, Voice Against Oklahoma’s Industry-Caused Quakes, Passes Away Under the Open Sky

Jackie Dill at her home in Oklahoma

Jackie Dill, 64, a renowned Oklahoman wildcrafter of Cherokee descent and environmental activist who spoke out against the government’s failure to hold the fracking industry responsible for Oklahoma’s earthquakes, died on June 28, a few days after suffering a heart attack. 

I met Dill in January 2016 while reporting on Oklahoma’s earthquake swarms. She told me that she feared she would be killed by her house falling in and crushing her and her husband. Dill’s home in Coyle, Oklahoma, is on one of the state’s active fault lines and was so badly damaged by the constant earthquakes that she moved out a couple months before her death. 

Pastor Leads Lawsuit Opposing Bayou Bridge Pipeline to Protect Louisiana Cancer Alley Community

Pastor Harry Joseph in front of oil storage tanks in St. James, Louisiana

Pastor Harry Joseph of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church in St. James, Louisiana, is taking legal action to prevent the Bayou Bridge pipeline from being built in his community, roughly 50 miles west of New Orleans. He is named as a plaintiff in a case filed by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, petitioning the Parish Court to overturn the coastal permit that the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. 

The Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of the Dakota Access, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana. The final stretch of the project, if built, will span 162.5 miles from Lake Charles to St. James, cutting through the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area and the country’s largest wetland.

Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Residents Push Back Against Industrial Polluters

Concerned citizens sit with signs at a DEQ permit hearing in St. Gabriel

A group of residents in St. Gabriel, a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is no stranger to industrial pollution. The small town is on the banks of the Mississippi River in a stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge containing more than 100 petrochemical factories. To the industry, it’s known as the “Petrochemical Corridor,” but to everyone else it’s “Cancer Alley.” This fact is fueling a local drive to stop any new industrial plans that would add to the area’s already heavy pollution burden.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) has been assisting the Citizens for a Better St. Gabriel, a citizens group formed with the goal of halting one such company from expanding operations in their neighborhood. 

People’s Climate Movement Shows Strength and Diversity at DC March

Crowd of marchers at Climate March in DC

On Trump’s 100th day in office, over 200,000 people joined the People's Climate March in Washington, D.C., as tens of thousands marched in cities around the world. While the mood in D.C. was festive, people shared a sense of urgency, protesting against Trump’s agenda overturning all the environmental progress of the Obama administration. 

March for Science Organizer: 'Titans' Like Einstein, Galileo, Carson Engaged With Politics

Scientists and supporters carry a banner leading the DC March for Science

On Earth Day, tens of thousands turned out for the March for Science in Washington, D.C., despite the rain, celebrating ideas, facts, and empirical data while chastising climate science deniers.

Celebrity science educator Bill Nye, honorary co-chair of the March for Science, told the crowd, “We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and our prosperity.” The crowd roared their approval when he said they “could change the world.” 

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