Greenpeace Blocks Transports Of Toxic Chemicals: US Residents Appeal for Ban on Toxic Pollutants
LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA, US - November 28, 2000: Just one week before an international conference commences in South Africa to finalise a global ban on some of the world’s most dangerous toxic chemicals, Greenpeace activists took action today against one of the eight chemical companies in Louisiana, U.S. where local people say toxic pollution has left many of them seriously ill.
Greenpeace volunteers barricaded two railroad entrances to chemical company, Pittsburgh Paint and Glass (PPG) in Louisiana, to block toxic shipments to and from the facility. Citing nearly 500 industrial accidents and other environmental abuses committed by PPG, including an accident just four weeks ago, the international environmental group fixed a large coach emblazoned with a sign reading “Greenpeace Toxics Patrol” to one railroad track. Greenpeace activists then chained themselves to the vehicle where they plan to stay for several days. Another bus was fastened to a second rail track. “These trains transporting vinyl chloride are literally shipping disease and death into this community,” said Damu Smith, Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner. “We are here to protect the community that companies like PPG, Condea Vista and others continue to endanger and to send a clear message to industries and the U.S. government that it must commit to eliminate toxic chemicals that are threatening people’s health worldwide,” he added.
One of many residents, who live near the Condea Vista plant at Mossville, has had to watch most of her whole family suffer increasing ill health. “My 25-year old daughter has endometriosis and I don’t believe she will be able to have children,” said Diane Prince. “My 23-year old son suffers from a bleeding ulcer from pollution that has eaten a hole in his stomach and doctors have found a mass in his thyroid gland. My 21-year old daughter has bleeding kidneys. She’s tired all of the time and weak. My oldest son has a deviated septum and he now has no sense of smell. In January of 1998, I found out that I have ovarian cancer and would have to go through chemotherapy. My entire family is suffering from pollution,” she continued.
This action comes just days after Greenpeace released an alarming report, exposing illegal permitting, hefty tax breaks and lax enforcement of Louisiana’s environmental laws. PPG was cited for allegedly operating on an illegal 16-year interim permit. The report further points to PPG as a leader in manufacturing vinyl chloride, which produces dioxin, one of the most dangerous pollutants known to science. A government study revealed that residents of Mossville, an African American community near PPG, have dioxin levels three times higher than the national average.
“I suppose it is easy to ignore something when it is not in your own backyard, killing your children,” said Mrs Prince. “But this is not just a Mossville problem— it is a worldwide problem. The Louisiana government allows these plants to pollute and the U.S. government turns the other way and ignores what is going on. The world must agree to the treaty to ban these toxic chemicals, which are affecting the health of innocent people.”
Home to eight of the United States’ 13 vinyl plants, Louisiana is one of many toxic hotspots that Greenpeace has identified around the world. In addition to supporting today’s action, residents from Louisiana’s polluted communities, including Diane Prince’s husband David, is going to next week’s negotiations in South Africa to testify. In negotiations so far, the U.S. has been leading a handful of nations that refuse to support the majority of countries that want dioxins to be eliminated. It is trying to weaken the treaty to allow its industries to continue their polluting practices.
CONTACT: Carol Gregory 202-251-3998 (mobile/on location); Lisa Finaldi 202-462-1177 (Washington, D.C. office); Kymberly Escobar 202-319-2494 (Washington, D.C. office) Background photos/video and testimonies from Mossville residents are available Interviews with David and Diane Prince can be arranged through Greenpeace Reports are available on www.greenpeace.org/~toxics
James Williams Greenpeace International (Press Office) 176 Keizersgracht 1016 DW Amsterdam Netherlands. Phone: ++ 31 (20) 5249 515 Fax: ++ 31 20 523 6212