What is ethylene oxide? Here is a breakdown of ethylene oxide.
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Introduction from Stephen Fox: Louisiana chemical plants release more cancer-causing ethylene oxide gas than Illinois' Sterigenics medical sterilizer plant, which was shut down by IL state regulators. Illinois in 2019 passed the USA's toughest ethylene oxide laws. EPA decided in 2016 that the gas is more dangerous than previously thought. Dow Inc.'s 2,000-plus-acre Union Carbide Corp. petrochemical complex in Louisiana's St. Charles Parish #1 dumping this poison in USA.
Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas with a sweet odor that is used to sterilize medical equipment, and also as a building block for other chemicals to make a range of products, including antifreeze, textiles, plastics, detergents, and adhesives. Prolonged exposure to higher concentrations can hurt eyes and lungs, harm the brain and nervous system, and potentially cause lymphomas, leukemia, and breast cancer. The EPA concluded in late 2016 that ethylene oxide is at least 30 times more carcinogenic than previously understood.Facilities that release ethylene oxide are spread around the country, with many lower-emitting sites in states like Minnesota and North Carolina. But the 2014 data showed that those with the highest annual emissions were often concentrated further south; 12 of the top 20 highest-emitting facilities were in Louisiana and Texas.
A Thorough Statement by Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, Color Of Change
Once again, Governor John Bel Edwards is allowing corporate greed to endanger black people's lives in Louisiana. Formosa Plastics has applied to Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to build a 9.4-billion-dollar petrochemical plant in the predominantly black community of St. James Parish, Louisiana.1 And with several permits already moving through the department successfully, it looks like they are going to be approved. The problem? Formosa Plastic's plant proposes to emit a chemical that a 2016 EPA study has proven causes cancer, "even with limited exposure."2 There is no other way to say it. If this chemical plant is built, black people will die. This is why we must speak up now, before it's too late.
This isn't the first chemical plant that has been approved in the region. The stretch of the Mississippi river where the company intends to build has long been referred to as "Cancer Alley" after the parish adopted a land-use plan that designated large swaths of agricultural land for industrial use in 2014.3 Since then, several multi-billion-dollar companies have built major manufacturing plants that emit some of the highest levels of waste and pollution in the country in a region where black people make up just under 50% of the population. This is unacceptable.
Time and time again, the state of Louisiana has demonstrated that it values profit more than it values black people's lives. According to a ProPublica analysis, the air around Formosa's plants is more toxic with cancer-causing chemicals than 99.6% of industrialized areas of the country4. Just last month, Formosa Plastics was required to pay residents of Texas $50 million dollars for the impact of illegally dumping billions of plastic pellets and other pollutants into Lavaca Bay and other waterways. Still, despite the devastation the company has caused across the country, DEQ seems poised to grant them more land, resources and space. And despite the fact that Formosa's currently-operating PVC site in Baton Rouge has been out of compliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for the past three years, Governor John Bel Edwards recently announced a 332-million-dollar investment of taxpayer dollars into the company's expansion in Louisiana.5 This isn't right.
We've long known that pollution takes its greatest toll on the health of black communities, who are often left with few resources or recourse. Environmental racism continues to place black people in close proximity to pollution and other environmental hazards.6 Black children suffer disproportionately from asthma, and are seven to eight times more likely to die of asthma than white children.7 Communities of color face nearly 40% more exposure to toxic air pollution than white communities.8 Formosa Plastics is counting on environmental racism and to get away with their crimes and Governor John Bel Edwards is giving them the free pass they need to do it. We can't let that happen.
Until justice is real,
Jade, Rashad, Arisha, Johnny, Future, Amanda, Evan, Imani, Samantha, Eesha, Marcus, FolaSade, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
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