Environmental Debate Heats Up

September 25, 2006
Reported by Vince Atkinson 

Chemical plants are big business in Southwest Louisiana.  They do great things for the local economy, but when it comes to how they are affecting the environment, that issue leaves some people divided. That debate came to a head Monday. This issue is nothing new, but the allegations a group of environmental activists are making against state and federal governmental agencies are. The activists say the public is not getting the whole truth.

Monday morning a large group of environmental activists could be found in front of The Lake Area Industry Alliance. The crowd was part of the Environmental Justice For All Tour. One activist said, "We are here to set the records straight." The activists claim state and federal government agencies that monitor the environment in Calcasieu Parish are not being honest with the public. Some environmentalists believe information about the amounts of harmful chemicals average citizens are exposed to is being withheld.

According to recent studies by the Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, there are no real environmental dangers. Larry Deroussel with The Lake Area Industry Alliance said, "Based on their data and based on their analysis, there are not elevated levels in the area of any chemicals, dioxin, ect. that would be a health issue." Environmental activist and Mossville resident Dorthy Felix said, "Could they actually believe that? That is not true. They know that this is happening, but they feel this is the end of it."

Now, those with the Environmental Justice For All Tour are releasing their own report that calls into question the accuracy of state and federal government environmental testing. The activists taking part in the tour say they are ready and willing to take their message all the way to Washington in order to be heard.