HEALTH

TOXIC TENSIONS IN THE HEART OF ‘CANCER ALLEY’

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says this Louisiana town has the nation’s highest risk of developing cancer from air toxins.

Residents live in the shadow of a plant that spews toxic chemicals.

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LaPlace is in the heart of “Cancer Alley,” an industrial stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge dotted by petrochemical plants.

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It’s home to the Denka Performance Elastomer plant, the nation’s only producer of neoprene, a synthetic rubber.

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The plant spews 99% of the chloroprene emitted by facilities across the country.

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In 2015 the EPA reported that residents in the area were five to twenty times more at risk of developing cancer than the national average.

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This prompted Denka to agree to voluntarily reduce chloroprene emissions by 85%. But the company says the EPA’s findings are based on faulty science.

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Residents aren’t satisfied with the 85% solution. They say cancer diagnoses in their neighborhoods are too common.

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The EPA said the “primary concern is with exposures over a lifetime.”

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A state official says the cancer concerns are overblown and that vocal residents are “fear-mongers.”

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Residents are hoping federal regulators, state regulators or someone will force Denka to adhere to the cancer risk recommendations.

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