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Environmental Injustice in Cancer Alley: Injustices and Facilities (Essay Sample)


present a case study of the Cancer Alley in Louisiana, highlighting the injustices and the effects of the facilities around them. The poor communities are oppressed and unfairly treated in environmental policy implementation


Environmental Injustice in Cancer Alley
Institutional Affiliation

Environmental Injustice in Cancer Alley
Environmental responsibility is significant for any business acceptability in communities in the contemporary world. Communities, groups, states, and non-governmental institutions have come together to ensure environmental protection and mitigation of risks that arise from environmentally-unfriendly activities. The start-up, expansion, and permit-renewal ofthese hazardous chemical manufacturing firms often face criticism and lawsuits meant to force them to stop such businesses. To pursue their plans, businesses have always colluded with government officials to set up such firms in poor and minority communities where activism is unlikely to win, resulting in environmental injustices (Berry, 2003). Environmental injustice is defined as the unfair treatment of people on the basis of social class, race, color, national origin, or income levels,and their failure to be involved in developing, implementing, and enforcing environmental laws, policies, and regulations(Blodgett, 2006). Minority communities often face environmental injustices due to their inability to form strong activism against environmentally-unfriendly business operations that harm them. The following discussion advances the argument that toxic industries affect poor and minority communities disproportionately, bringing about questions of environmental injustice. The paper will present a case study of the Cancer Alley in Louisiana, highlighting the injustices and the effects of the facilities around them. The poor communities are oppressed and unfairly treated in environmental policy implementation.
The Louisiana community, in the United States, is populated mainly by the minority groups. African-Americans form a great percentage of the population in this community. Many industries that operate in this area are mainly noxious chemical industries that release environmentally-unfriendly contents to the Mississippi River. The result of this business’s unresponsiveness to environmental concerns has been the increased cases of cancer and reproductive health problems among the Louisiana population. According to Berry (2003), powerless and poor communities have experienced environmental injustices in the way state enforcers delay proceedings against the construction of hazardous chemical plants in their community. For instance, the role played by the local and state governments in supporting the Shintech Company shows utter environmental injustice at play. The costly lawsuits and delays by the government in the legal proceedings of the case against Shintechsuggest that poor and minority communities are treated unfairly when it comes to environmental justice(Berry, 2003; Blodgett, 2006). The lack of government support in community activism has led to unequal treatment of minorities; a factor that has contributed to the increased cases of environmental harm and health risks in minority communities.Unlike the developing nations and disadvantaged communities, the powerful communities have anupper hand in preventing the activities of harmful industries in their neighborhood.
Power and influence have played a significant role in environmental injustice in the United States. The location ofchemical industries in neighborhoods with African-American has resulted in the disproportionate effects of environmental injustice on the poor and people of color. According to Cole & Foster (2001), the signing of the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice brought to recognition the rampant injustices that were anchored on social, economic, and political-legal systems. Corporate polluters in cities with poor and low-income population often receive support from the state officials. The dumping of chemical wastes results in environmental hazards that affect the health of communities and their quality of life. Cole & Foster(2001)further explain how community activism was formed in low-income towns across the US to reduce the environmental impact. According to these authors, the legal process has not been effective enough to bring environmental justice. Walker (2012) adds that the powerful influence on policy implementation contributed to the lack of involvementby the poor communities. The powerful seem to have a high voice in issues relating to environmental decisions, which unfairly ignores the involvement of minorities. The ignorance by the communities is what provoked the agitation for environmental activism in the communities. It is clear that the increased health complications among children and the general population may have prompted community activism to seek recognition for environmental justice. The poor legal representation of minorities has contributed to the disproportionate environmental impact even after justice advocacy by the state was initiated many years ago.
The minority groups receive poor legal representation in environmental issues, which has led to unequal treatment. The population characteristics of African-Americans and other poor communities predispose them to weak political power to resist environmental impacts in their communities. According to Blodgett (2006), poor legal representation in the fight against environmental impacts from corporate polluters has contributed to disproportionate effects. As such, the resistance by minority African-Americans has been weak. The initial activism was characterized by arrests and incarceration. The building of chemical industries has been more than twice in communities with minorities; predominantly the African-Americans. The presence of such industries has led to the dumping of chemically hazardous wastes that compromise on the quality of water, air, and soil. The result of such chemical pollution is health complications among the poor populations. The air released from the industrial activities to the community has been shown to contribute to the increased cases of cancer and tumors in the town (Blodgett, 2006). Therefore, the disproportionate environmental impact on poor and minority communities is the result of increased industrial dumping and air releases that are not in other towns.
One recognizable impact of environmental pollution is the increased chronic conditions that impair healthy reproduction. In Louisiana, reports from the Parishes have indicated a declining population as a result of harmful emissions into the environment. The increased complications have prevented some women from giving births while others have suffered stillbirths. Moreover, increased cancer mortality among children, as well as, respiratory ailments have contributed to a decline in the population. The chemical and air released to the environment have been the cause of these complications; hence, the decline of the population (Blodgett, 2006). According to Colten (2012), the geographical proximity to industrial facilities predisposes one to health problems. The in-migration of African-Americans to industrial refineries in search for jobs explains why many have settled around these areas. The explosions, leakages, and dumping have caused public health concerns among the populations in these rural areas. Still, the Districts officials do not recognize any environmental injustice, as the industries have not shown any indications that they target a specific community in their facility establishment and operations.
Moreover, the operations of industrial plants often lead to exuberated health problems caused by the exposure to sewage sludge and biosolids. Following the operations of the FTM and Associates in Romeville, the residents started to complain about skin problems, diarrhea, and fatigue. The company used sewage sludge as fertilizers for sugar canes; hence, the reason the residents started complaining about diarrhea. Moreover, the use of bio-solids in their operations led to emissions that caused skin rashes and boils. Such health problems are irritating and lead to reduced quality of life and are best described as environmental injustices (Blodgett, 2006). Therefore, the future health of the population in question will continue to be in danger if the District officials do not take actions against the industrial activities in the area.
Further, the disproportionate environmental impact on the poor minority communities in the U.S. has contributed to a slow economic development. Communities within many of these toxic chemical industries, predominantly African-Americans, have shown little economic progress. According to Blodgett (2006), the dumping of polluted soils in landfills has led to a decline in the rural land...
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