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Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley,’ home to chemical plants with heavy pollution



  • “Cancer Alley” is an 85 mile-long stretch of the Mississippi river lined with oil refineries and petrochemical plants, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
  • People living in the area are more than 50 times as likely to get cancer than the average American.
  • For years, residents have suffered from illnesses, but they’ve been unable to prove a causal connection between industry and the health effects.  
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Surrounded by smokestacks, ‘Cancer Alley’ is one of the most polluted places in America. 

Here, people don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows. According to ProPublica, they see cancer everywhere

Its called ‘Cancer Alley,’ because of the high number of people living with cancer in the alley, which runs for about 85 miles along the Mississippi River, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. It’s made up of a dense concentration of oil refineries and petrochemical plants that run alongside suburbs and vulnerable communities. 

Rolling Stone called it the “frontline of environmental racism.”

But while residents think the industry is responsible for health problems, it’s hard to prove a causal link. As environmental reporter Sharon Lerner wrote for The New York Times, “Even when there is severe suffering and a seemingly obvious culprit, it’s often impossible to pin blame on any single cause.”

LaPlace resident Geraldine Watkins described the problem to CNN in 2017, when she said, “Industry is wonderful to have, but if it’s killing the people in the area that they live in, what good is industry?”

Here’s what Cancer Alley is like. 

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