Dow Plaquemines LA, USA


In 1997 the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals detected harmful levels of vinyl chloride, a chemical used in plastics manufacturing, in the Upper Plaquemine Aquifer. However, the department failed to inform local residents of the contamination until five years later in 2001. Vinyl chloride is a suspected carcinogen very rarely studied in ground water. Residents of the nearby Myrtle Grove trailer park sued Dow Chemical. The company denied that it was the source of the contamination. However, a Judge found the company responsible and required Dow to carry out a plan of Monitored Natural Attenuation. With rising insurance rates and health concerns the Myrtle Grove trailer park was closed and its residents evicted.

Basic Data
NameDow Plaquemines LA, USA
CountryUnited States of America
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Manufacturing activities
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Detailslbs of toxic industrial chemicals released to land and 2563 pounds injected. The most common chemicals being methanol and thrimethyl benzene. ('Scorecard.' PLAQUEMINES Parish, LA: Superfund Report. (accessed February 9, 2014).) residents live in Myrtle Grove during the time of known water contamination. (Dunne, Mike. 'Vinyl chloride source still mystery; little known of chemical†™s effects.' THE ADVOCATE pg 1A March 10, 2002)
Project Area (in hectares)607
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationIn 2012 the population of Plaqumines parish was 23,921 but in the 1990s and early 2000s it was considerably higher around 28,000 it dropped drastically post Hurricane Katrina
Start Date1997
End Date2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesDow Chemical Company from United States of America
Relevant government actorsLouisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, EPA, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLouisianna Environmental Action Network
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Soil contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Dow was determined responsible for the contamination. However, the residents of the area were not compensated for the disruption to their lives. Particular contaminant resolved but Dow Chemical continues to expand their facilities in the area.
Sources and Materials

Unglesby Law Firm. 'Unglesby Law Firm.' Verdicts and Settlements
[click to view]


Toxic Water Numbers Days of a Trailer Park
[click to view]

"Vinyl chloride source still mystery; little known of chemical’s effects"
[click to view]

Dow plans $1 billion investment in Plaquemine
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan
Meta Information
ContributorKaty Hintzen, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015