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Cancer Alley Campaigner Wins Goldman Environmental Defender | Louisiana

Special Education Teacher Retired from Louisiana A successful grassroots campaign to stop the construction of a toxic plastic factory in Cancer Alley, USA, he won the 2021 Goldman Award as an environmental protector.

Sharon Ravine, 68, organized a march, petitions, town hall meetings, and media campaigns after an elected official signaled the construction of another contaminated factory in the Parish of St. James.

The proposed $ 1.25 billion Chinese-owned plastic plant has £ 1 million (450,000) annually, including hundreds of tons of methylenediphenyldiisocyanate, a carcinogen that affects respiratory function, and volatile carbon monoxide. It was producing (kg) of liquid hazardous waste. Organic compounds, formaldehyde and benzene.

Despite the risks posed to human and environmental health, in late 2018, the St. James Parish Council will promote Wanhua’s permit, grant a 10-year property tax exemption, and consult the community appropriately. The residential area was re-partitioned.

“They got these companies into our black and brown neighborhood when they learned that these things were killing us,” Ravine told the Guardian. “This would have been two miles downwind from my house. I didn’t intend to allow the St. James Parish to do any more industry.”

Located between New Orleans and the Baton Rouge, the Parish of St. James is located 80 miles along the Mississippi River, what has become known as the Cancer Array. Depot.

Ravine mobilized the community for the Manhua Factory through Rise St. James, a faith-based environmental justice organization founded in 2018. She was at the forefront of opposition, knocking on the door, witnessing at Parish Council meetings and other hearings, and pleading with the locals. State authorities issue a moratorium on the construction of new industries.

From left to right, Ravine, along with members of Myrtle Felton, Gale Leboeuf, Rita Cooper, and Rise St. James, campaigned last year for a $ 9.4 billion chemical plant proposal owned by a Taiwanese company. Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP

When they refused to be upset, the daughter of a civil rights leader, Ravine, formed an alliance with larger and more established organizations, including 350.org and the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, and an educational flyer against the project. And designed newspaper advertisements.

In September 2019, less than a year after obtaining the permit, Manka withdrew its land use application amid growing opposition. The community has won.

“We stood up for health because health is more important than health. If we hadn’t spoken, the factory would have gone ahead. It felt like a victory. “Lavigne said.

The company turned its attention to another parish, but Lavigne and her colleagues helped the community organize a factory and keep it off limits.

A Goldman Environmental Prize spokesperson said: Her work has prevented the generation of £ 1 million of liquid hazardous waste each year … Sharon Ravine wins the Goldman Environmental Prize for her unwavering commitment and dedication to the community. “

Ravine added: “I didn’t expect to be an activist. I was just a worried citizen trying to save my life.”

Founded in 1990, the annual award recognizes grassroots environmentalists from the six inhabited continents of the world. This year’s winners are five women, Peruvian indigenous activist Liz Chicaje Churay, who saved a 2m-acre Amazon rainforest from a logger and persuaded the Malawi government to ban disposable plastics Gloria Majiga-Kamoto is included.

All the winners experienced the consequences of environmental destruction first hand.

For Ravien, life was very different while growing up when her family lived away from the land by raising animals, fishing and growing crops. “It was great. We had clean water, clean air, and productive soil. We lived in the American dream until the chemical plant began to open in the 1960s.”

Industrial plants were probably slowly poisoning the community for years, but it wasn’t until five years ago that Ravine fell ill. “I began to think of all those who died of cancer. The Parish of St. James was a sacrifice zone.”

Despite this victory, the struggle is not over yet.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cancer rates in St. James Parish are 50 times higher than the national average, and campaign participants say they are the result of decades of environmental racism. Nonetheless, the state plans to build or expand more than 100 petrochemical facilities with St. James Parish at the center of the boom.

Lavigne continues to oppose a new chemical plant, including a $ 9.4 billion complex that Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics wants to build near its home.

She states: It’s a long battle. We must convince civil servants that we want to live, stay in St. James, and will not take any more. “

Cancer Alley Campaigner Wins Goldman Environmental Defender | Louisiana

Source link Cancer Alley Campaigner Wins Goldman Environmental Defender | Louisiana

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