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United States, Louisiana


“Cancer Alley” Louisiana, United States

“Cancer Alley” (or “Death Alley”) refers to a stretch of River Parishes between the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, which contains more than 150 petrochemical plants and refineries. In 2014, The Environmental Protection Agency determined that the risk of getting cancer from air pollution was 95% higher for people living in “Cancer Alley” than anywhere else in the country. In the years since then, the toxic air and water pollution has only gotten worse.

Most of these petrochemical sites are located in predominantly Black and low-income communities, many of which trace their ancestry back to emancipated slaves who settled here following the end of the U.S. Civil War. In fact, the gravesites of former slaves hwave been identified at several locations where petrochemical facilities are currently operational and/or proposed.

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The discovery of slave burial grounds in “Cancer Alley” includes Formosa Plastics’ proposed 14-plant petrochemical complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana, which experts have estimated would more than double the area’s toxic air pollution, and more than triple exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. In 2020, local community leaders seeking to hold a solemn observance at the gravesites of their enslaved ancestors—in honor of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves—had to take a local member of Formosa Plastics Group to court in order to legally visit the burial grounds.

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