Concerned Citizens of St. John, or CCSJ, is a Non Profit Corporation that shall at all times be operated solely and exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. Its primary, but not exclusive, purpose is to bring awareness of issues that affect our daily lives in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana for the betterment of our community.
In 2015, EPA DESIGNATED that St. John the Baptist Parish had the highest risk of cancer due to toxic chemical emissions in the entire country. These toxic emissions come from the Dupont/Denka plant located in the community of Reserve. The chemical Chloroprene, produced in the Dupont/Denka plant, was designated as a “Likely Human Carcinogen”and their suggested safe levels of exposure should not exceed 0.2ug/m3 of air. Chloroprene is used in the production of NEOPRENE. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber invented by Dupont in 1931 used for weather resistant products such as wet suits.
The census tract (708) nearest Denka has measured chloroprene concentrations that are 800 times the level deemed safe by EPA (0.2µ/m3). In that census tract less than 1,500 feet awayfrom this plant is 5thWard Elementary school which teaches K- 4thgraders.They are at the most vulnerable age to be subjected to these levels of toxins.
In 3 years, we have protested in front of 5th Ward Elementary School, marched through the parishes of “Death Alley” to the Governor’s mansion, and brought media attention from around the WORLD. We have also traveled to Denka’s headquarters in Japan twice and made several trips to DC before federal agencies and representatives.
The COVID-19 crisis has only cast these continued injustices in sharper relief. Right now, St. John the Baptists Parish has the third-highest mortality rate in the entire United States due to COVID-19. New study after new study has shown a link between higher levels of pollution and higher mortality rates of COVID-19. This is nothing new to us; when the community has been subjected to toxic emissions for decades it stands to reason that we would be more vulnerable to a virus such as COVID-19.
St. John the Baptist Parish has:
- Among the highest COVID-19 death rates in Louisiana and the United States
- Highest cancer risks in the nation from exposures to air toxics.
- Multiple large industrial sources of PM2.5emissions totaling to 1505 tons in 2018.
- High rates of PM2.5 air pollution-related health effects:
- Child (2-17 yrs) asthma rates 2.5 times the US and LA rates.
- Child (2-17 yrs) asthma hospitalizations 2.5 times the US and LA rates.
- Young adult (18-39 yrs) asthma rates 1.7 times the US and LA rates.
These underlying health conditions increase risk of COVID-19 death.
Enough is enough. We in CCSJ demand that the Dupont/Denka plant reduce its toxic emissions to a level that does not continue to destroy our community as it has for so many years. If it cannot, we demand that the plant is shut down. We demand that justice is finally granted to the citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish to account for decades of environmental, social, and economic injustice. Our people are dying, but we will never stop fighting for our right to live. Please join us in that fight.
Toxic Emissions and Disease Near the Dupont/Denka plant in Reserve, Louisiana
In 2019, Lydia Gerard and Robert Taylor of CCSJ travelled to the Dupont/Denka headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, to share their story.
Geraldine Watkins, of CCSJ, has a message for Dupont/Denka.
CCSJ at 5th Ward Elementary School in Reserve, La. Grades K-4 attend this school located less than 1,500 feet from Denka/Dupont Plant.
Tish and Robert Taylor of CCSJ and Sharon Lavigne of Rise St. James with Reverend Dr. William Barber, co-chair of The Poor People's Campaign
CCSJ, along with our partners in CADA (the Coalition Against Death Alley), speak with U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond about our struggle.
CCSJ and CADA outside the St. John the Baptist Parish government hall, demanding justice.
Lydia Gerard and Robert Taylor of CCSJ.