Mississippi River Chemical Corridor
The Louisiana industrial corridor, aka “Cancer Alley,” is a stretch of the Mississippi River lined with petrochemical companies and oil refineries. The ground, air, and water along this corridor are so infused with carcinogens and mutagens that the area has been called a “massive human experiment.” Louisiana ranks number one in per capita toxic releases into the environment. The polluting facilities are clustered predominantly in areas with high concentrations of African Americans. Eighty percent of the total African American community in this industrial corridor lives within three miles of a polluting facility. The petrochemical industry denies any responsibility for the noxious odors and ill health effects on the area residents, despite contradictory scientific evidence.
Petrochemical corporations wield tremendous power in the state of Louisiana. The industry’s lobby shamelessly uses its power to ensure that the state legislature represents its interests, such as offering tax incentives and loopholes that privilege the industry. In 2000, the Louisiana Shell Corporation had an income of 26 billion dollars and ranked fourth in the state in receipt of tax exemptions.
During a tour of Cancer Alley by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, a Nigerian man said, “I cannot believe that this is happening in the U.S. I know that the oil companies exploit my people and degrade and devastate the environment, but I had no idea that this was being done in the U.S.” Beverly Wright, “Race, Politics, and Pollution: Environmental Justice in the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor,” in Agyeman et al., Just Sustainabilities, . ↵