Race and Ecological Justice are Connected

They are connected in many many ways, but one of the most insidious is location. For instance, low income housing (often with higher proportions of minority residents) is often near polluted sites, large factories, and dumping.

But today I was nonetheless appalled to learn where Southern University is situated. I mean, Southern! The home of the Human Jukebox! It’s one of the flagship HBCUs, and is highlighted every year during the Grambling vs Southern football game with those amazing marching band shows.

“next to the Devil’s Swamp Superfund site and surrounded by petro-chemical plants and toxic waste sites. A slew of leaks, discharges and accidents have impacted Southern, including toxic leaking railroad tank cars, ruptured pipelines, chemical spills from tank trucks, and leaking barges on the river, making it the most adversely impacted institution of higher learning in the country.” (Source)

The Devil’s Swamp Superfund site is indeed a few miles away from campus. The site was proposed for Superfund status back in 2004, and it’s still “under investigation.” They finally held a meeting with the public about the cleanup strategy in October 2019.

And Petro Processors of Louisiana is located just next to Devil’s Swamp. According to the EPA, “PPI operated these sites as depositories for various petrochemical wastes during the 1960s and the 1970s. These operations contaminated surface soil, surface water, groundwater, air and airborne particulate matter with hazardous chemicals. The site is located over the ‘400-foot sands,’ a major drinking water aquifer.”

And yes, there’s more info out there, for anyone who isn’t sufficiently bothered by the above.