Cancer Alley residents may finally see environmental justice

Marginalized groups suffer most from corporate pollution. Many of those affected lack the resources to fight back or reach out to relevant authorities for help. One such community is the Reserve, a predominantly black neighborhood of about 8,000 people, located in the heart of Cancer Alley between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

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This week, members of this community had a chance to meet Michael Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Regan is the first senior person to have given them a listening ear, despite years of struggle to get their case heard. Regan’s actions come at a time when the Biden administration has promised to enforce environmental justice in its new reforms.

Related: First Nation Residents Exposed to Dangerous Levels of Carcinogens

According to data provided by the EPA, Cancer Alley is plagued by toxic chemicals such as chloroprene, produced by Denka, a nearby Japanese petrochemical plant. Chloroprene is known to be carcinogenic and increases the risk of cancer among locals. Studies have shown that residents of the region are 50 times more likely to get cancer than the national average.

Regan’s visit to the Reserve was just part of a long journey. Regan has been on trips around the American South to meet and talk to many marginalized groups affected by pollution. After hearing from members of the reserve community, Reagan told the press that the government had embarked on a journey to rebuild trust in the people.

“I know we need to rebuild trust. I know this did not happen overnight and will not be resolved overnight. So our commitment is to do better, to take advantage of our enforcement, to work with Congress to get the toughest laws in place that are adequate and protective. And to do this in consultation with members of the community who have been advocating for this for decades, “said Regan, as reported by The Guardian.

Regan also visited Jackson, Mississippi, where thousands were left without running water last year after a storm destroyed the water pipe system. On Wednesday, Regan visited residents of Gordon Plaza, an affordable New Orleans housing project built on toxic landfills in the 1980s

For years, environmental justice has been intangible for many marginalized groups. Although most of the societies have leaders defending their rights, progress has been slow. With the renewed efforts, local communities hope that justice will be done.

Via The Guardian

Lead image via Pixabay

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