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Thu Oct 31, 2019, 04:15 AM

In a Notoriously Polluted Area of the Country, Massive New Chemical Plants Are Still Moving in

The industrial stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, a region known as “Cancer Alley,” is one of the most highly polluted areas in the country. A ProPublica analysis using a scientific model developed by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that some of the neighborhoods where new plants are being built already have very high concentrations of toxic chemicals. But Louisiana continues to approve the building of these new plants and the expansion of existing ones.

The EPA model ProPublica used, known as Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators, or RSEI, calculates the estimated chemical concentrations from toxic industrial plant emissions across the country, down to 810-by-810-meter blocks. We then used that model to find where toxic levels of cancer-causing chemicals are highest in the seven parishes.

In these seven Louisiana parishes, more than 200 plants emit toxic chemicals at a high enough level that they must report their emissions to the government. (graphics identify East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Charles parishes).

According to our analysis of the RSEI model, which incorporates these emissions, here's where toxic levels of cancer-causing chemicals are estimated to be highest along the lower Mississippi in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

The graphics accompanying the story are excellent. Read more: https://projects.propublica.org/louisiana-toxic-air/

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