“…Felix and other environmental activists in this southwest Louisiana community tried for decades to convince the state and federal governments they live in a toxic town.
They say the 14 chemical plants surrounding this African-American community are making residents sick.
As evidence, they point to government blood tests showing residents with three times the normal levels of dioxins in their blood. Dioxins are carcinogens, often called the most toxic substance known.
Health surveys in Mossville show widespread respiratory problems and other ailments. Residents also say many in the community have died young, from cancer.
After years of rebuffing their requests, the EPA in January agreed to test whether Mossville qualifies as a federal Superfund site. Investigators arrived in April. Superfund designation could mean federal funding for cleanup and, possibly, relocation for residents who want to go.
Mossville won another victory in March. An international human rights commission agreed to rule on a case brought by Mossville against the United States government.
“It means they are going to have a legal judgment on their right to live in a healthy environment,” says Monique Harden, co-director and attorney with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights. “They are hard-working, good people. And they want nothing more than what anybody would want, which is a safe place to raise their children.”
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights filed suit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the people of Mossville. It was the first time the commission, an arm of the Organization of American States, decided to rule on an environmental injustice case in the United States, according to Harden.
Harden says the ruling could have an impact beyond Mossville because the suit claims legally permitted pollution violates the human rights of residents living nearby.”