And They Lived Happily
'Once, in days that are dead beyond recall, the country between New Orleans and Donaldsonville went by the opulent name of "The Golden Coast."' This is how Cahterine Cole begun her essay about the Saint James Parish in her book, Louisiana Voyages, in 1889. Today, the 85-miles-stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, along the Mississippi goes by the insipid name of 'Cancer Alley'. Here, about 150 petrochemical plants bustle around, emitting relentlessly vast amounts of toxins into the air. Living in this area increases the risk of getting cancer by several hundred times, as proven by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 2018, Formosa, a giant Taiwanese plastics producer got the go for a production of an estimated $9.4 billion industrial complex, with the romantic name of 'Sunshine Project'. To realize this project, Formosa purchased 2,400 acres in the Saint James Parish. The company bolsters its positive argumentation for the Saint James community with job guaranties, a promised average salary of $84,500, and $500 million in local spending. And the project´s website states that plastic production 'will make our lives safer, healthier, cleaner, and more efficient'. That the production of polyethylene, polypropylene, polymer and ethylene glycol will emit substantial quantities of cancerous pollutants into the environment is elegantly omitted.
The state of Louisiana presents a romanticized version of the slavery in its sprawling museeums of plantation estates. Combined with the lax environmental protection that the Louisianan government exercises, we find a highly discriminatory landscape. The ones who suffer the most for the vast profit margin are the various black communities, situated along Cancer Alley.
All pictures are taken in November 2020, along Cancer Alley, in the U.S. state Louisiana.