Several days after Hurricane Laura slammed into an area littered with dozens of petroleum, petrochemical and other industrial sites, key state and federal air pollution monitors remain offline. Residents say that’s typical. The state’s response to Hurricane Laura “sounds like it’s about what it usually is. Not robust is putting it kindly,” said Anne Rolfes in New Orleans, founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told the AP. Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color are disproportionately likely to be located near polluting facilities like refineries and chemical manufacturing plants.
And Louisiana is home to communities with some of the nation’s highest cancer risks, according to EPA rankings, but the dearth of government information is not new. In Lake Charles, where a massive fire at a chemical manufacturing plant sent black smoke billowing into the air late last week, prompting urgent pleas from the governor to stay inside and turn off their air conditioning to avoid potentially toxic fumes, residents “generally don’t get any information except what the industry puts out,” Carla Chrisco, a Lake Charles lawyer, told the AP. (AP; Climate Signals background: 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season)