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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
Name of conflict:Dow Plaquemines LA, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Louisianna
Location of conflict:Plaquemines
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Manufacturing activities
Chemical industries
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

lbs 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:607
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:In 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 of the conflict:1997
End of the conflict:2001
Company names or state enterprises:Dow Chemical Company from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, EPA, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Louisianna Environmental Action Network
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, 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-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Dow plans $1 billion investment in Plaquemine
[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]

Other comments:This 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
Contributor:Katy Hintzen, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015
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