Mossville, Louisiana: Toxic Town


By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL


Mossville, Louisiana is an example of a toxic town (see Toxic Town entry in this dictionary), one where the justice process is still unfolding as a remedy to the situation. Mossville is a largely African-American community that is part of the Lake Charles Basin area in the southwestern portion of Louisiana.

The community of Mossville is surrounded by more vinyl chemical manufacturing plants than any other location in the US, and the level of vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride and dioxin pollution are well above safe exposure levels in the area (for more on details on Mossville). The high level of pollution in this area have been the subject of studies by the US EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR study). ATSDR studies have discovered elevated concentrations of dioxin in local fish, leading to a fish consumption advisory for the area. ATDSR has also found elevated dioxin levels in resident blood samples. These problems are extensive.

Despite these findings, the government has yet to intervene in any meaningful way to address the problem, and residents argue that this lack of action is an example of environmental racism (Mossvillie Environmental Action group [MEAN] webpage). While no official action has been taken by governmental authorities with respect to the site, one of the involved companies, Sasol, has offered money for voluntary relocation efforts following discussions with MEAN. It appears, however, that Sasol’s main motivation for the relocation effort is not to address residents’ health issue or pollution, but rather its interest in expanding its facilities. To do so, Sasol needs more land currently occupied by Mossville resident (relocation plan).

Mossville is an ongoing example of a community’s fight for environmental justice, one that is still unfolding in this toxic town.
Further Reading

In this dictionary see:”Toxic Towns” entry


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