With Public's "Right-To-Know" in Jeopardy, Greenpeace Kicks off Bus Tour of Louisiana's Worst Chemical "Hot Spots"

Media release - June 22, 1999
From the steps of the State Capitol building, Greenpeace today launched a "Toxics Patrol" bus trip to more than a dozen of the state's chemical facilities whose emissions have made Louisiana a "global toxic hot spot."

From the steps of the State Capitol building, Greenpeace today launched a "Toxics Patrol" bus trip to more than a dozen of the state's chemical facilities whose emissions have made Louisiana a "global toxic hot spot" The bus tour begins with stops at three controversial facilities: Rhodia, the nation's first napalm incinerator; Formosa, which makes components of vinyl; and Dow, another vinyl producer which plans to partner with Shintech on its newly-proposed vinyl plant in West Baton Rouge.

Joined by representatives of several state and local environmental groups, Greenpeace displayed specially created signs it plans to post at chemical facilities, warning that toxic pollution "does not stop at the fence."

"Louisiana ranks number one in the nation in per-capita toxic releases to the environment, and her citizens are bearing a terrible health burden for it," said Greenpeace Toxics campaigner Damu Smith. "Our Toxics Patrol is out to expose some of the state's worst toxic offenders."

Greenpeace also responded today to a March invitation from Governor Mike Foster to meet. In a letter the group released today, Greenpeace said it will meet with the Governor but that

"Öwe would prefer to meet with you along with representatives of the many people in Louisiana whose lives, families and communities are being severely harmed by your environmental policiesÖ. The economic planners and environmental policy makers under your and previous administrations have made Louisiana home to some of the most dangerous and polluting industries ever builtÖ. Louisiana is at the center of the nations growing problem of environmental racism and injusticeÖ. You seem to dismiss this issue as if the problem does not existÖ."

Recent blood tests of citizens in Mossville -- a predominantly African American community situated in the midst of the PVC manufacturers Condea Vista, PPG, and Westlake -- have turned up dioxin levels as high as twice the national average.

Greenpeace has declared Louisiana a "Global Toxic Hot Spot" because the toxic emissions created in Louisiana -- particularly from those industries involved in the manufacture of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC) -- can also contaminate people and the environment thousands of miles away.

The week-long tour kicks off just as some in Congress are trying to prevent the publishing of worst-case accident scenarios for the nation's chemical producing facilities. "This is merely another industry attempt to keep the public in the dark about the dangerous nature of the chemicals being produced in their midst every day," Smith said. "Given some 200 chemical facilities between Lake Charles and New Orleans, Louisiana citizens have a tremendous stake in knowing exactly what could happen to them in the event of a catastrophic accident."