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CNN Reveals America’s Toxic Towns

Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinatorby Mike Schade,
PVC Campaign Coordinator
Center for Health, Environment & Justice

CNN’s two-night investigative report “Toxic America” kicks off tonight (8pm EST/7pm and 10pm Central/5pm and 8pm Pacific) with a story about the environmental health and justice problems plaguing the community of Mossville, Louisiana. Nestled amidst an alarming cluster of chemical plants, Mossville is home to more PVC chemical plants than anywhere else in the entire country, and has been dubbed the Vinyl Manufacturing Capital of America.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explore how Mossville has been polluted by the chemical industry with vinyl chloride, Dioxins, and other harmful chemicals.

At the bottom of this post you will find a video of a previous CNN story on Mossville that aired in February.

I am no stranger to Mossville. In 2004 I traveled to Mossville as part of an environmental health delegation organized to bear witness to the environmental pollution the chemical industry has brought to this poor African American community. CertainTeed, one of our nation’s largest PVC manufacturers, was building a PVC fabrication plant on the Lake Erie waterfront in Buffalo, and we wanted to investigate how CertainTeed and other PVC plants had impacted Mossville in Louisiana. CertainTeed’s chemicals were manufactured just outside Mossville, and were then shipped to Buffalo to be fabricated.

I had visited and worked with many impacted communities in the Buffalo area, from homeowners in Hickory Woods whose neighborhood was built on toxic waste, to parents fighting the only hazardous waste landfill in the Northeastern United States.

But I was not prepared for the scope of pollution and cluster of chemical plants bordering Mossville. Together with a few colleagues, I went on a toxic tour led by Mr. Edgar Mouton Jr., who is an inspiration to me. We met with concerned residents and former workers, and drove around parts of the community that had been turned into a ghost town – scores of homes were evacuated due to the plume of chemicals seeping into the neighborhood. We listened to residents’ stories of cancer, asthma, and reproductive health problems — diseases residents were sure was a result of the chemical industry.

I will never forget that visit. That experience and trip stays with me every day, and it motivates me to continue fighting for environmental health and justice. Watch CNN’s Toxic America series and stand in solidarity with the community of Mossville, and all communities impacted by the PVC chemical industry.

Former CNN story Toxic towns: People of Mossville ‘are like an experiment’: