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Mile by mile, town by town, there’s another little cluster of poverty and sickness.Most of these small towns are poor and black and nearly all are a stone's throw from the petrochemical processing facilities that dot the region.“Once you get into the details it’s really quite unbelievable.The state and EPA say there are no problems, that nothing bad has been found inside their samples, even though the findings…the state compares to short term standards but people don’t live there short term.” One recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota highlighted the segregation of pollution in America highlighting the exposure to one key pollutant in particular, nitrogen dioxide.Nitrogen dioxide is an airborne pollutant produced by car exhaust and petroleum refining that is linked to high risk of asthma, heart attack, low birthweight and more benign symptoms like coughing, wheezing and bronchitis.“Everything in their lives is contaminated as a result of living close to these facilities and they are being left behind.” From community to community the stories change little, Subra said — people die too soon, while others suffer from various respiratory issues, memory loss, the loss of liver function and uncomfortable skin conditions.
“African Americans, even affluent African Americans are more likely to live closer to and in communities that are more polluted than poor white families that make ,000 a year.” Abandoned houses in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Ala.
“People are talking about this economic recovery and the rebirth of clean energy and renewable energy, but what we have is energy apartheid, where poor communities and poor communities of color are still getting the dirtiest of the dirty energy,” said Dr.
Robert Bullard, author of “Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality.” Sources: Plant data from Randy Peterson and and EPA emissions registration data; povery data from US Census 2013 5-year ACA; displacement information from news sources, Mary Sternberg's Along the River Road, Steve Lerner's Diamond, and Kate Orff's research in Petrochemical America; emissions data is from the EPA's 2013 registry.
Others packed up and moved when the air got too thick or too nasty for their little ones to handle.
Many more relocated after being bought out by the bigwigs over at the oil plant next door. Nobody here but me,” Sims said from her kitchen table in Standard Heights, an African American neighborhood along the fence line of Exxon Mobil’s colossal Baton Rouge plant and refinery, the 11th largest oil complex in the world.