This story was originally published by the Guardian and reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
A retired special education teacher from Louisiana who led a successful grassroots campaign to stop construction of a toxic plastics plant in America’s Cancer Alley has won the 2021 Goldman prize for environmental defenders.
Sharon Lavigne, 68, organized marches, petitions, town hall meetings, and media campaigns after elected officials gave the green light to the construction of another polluting factory in St James parish — a majority-Black community already blighted by heavy industry and exorbitant cancer rates.
The proposed $1.25 billion Chinese-owned plastics plant would have generated a million pounds of liquid hazardous waste every year, including hundreds of tons of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, a carcinogenic chemical that affects respiratory function, as well as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and benzene.
Despite the risks posed to human and environmental health, in late 2018 St James parish council expedited permits for the company Wanhua, granted them a ... Read more