On March 20, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion for a preliminary injunction under the Clean Air Act requesting that Denka Performance Elastomer LLC — the only chloroprene plant in the United States — impose significantly greater pollution controls. Chloroprene is a chemical used in the production of neoprene, which is used to create wetsuits, beer cozies, laptop sleeves, orthopedic braces, and automotive belts and hoses. It is also a known carcinogen. The Denka plant is located in the majority Black community of LaPlace, Louisiana, which is part of Cancer Alley — a stretch of land where low income and minority communities have been exposed to disproportionate cancer risk due to petrochemical and fossil fuel infrastructure. Today, we’ll examine this one sliver of the story of Cancer Alley, exploring what chloroprene is, how the Denka plant has impacted the surrounding community, and how LaPlace can create a healthier future. With special guest Dr. Kimberly Terrell: Research Scientist and Director of Community Engagement at Tulane University’s Environmental Law Clinic.
The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.
This episode is the first in our four-part series collaborating with the Gulf Climate Listening Project covering environmental issues on the Gulf Coast. If you are interested in learning about stopping LNG exports and creating a better future on the Gulf Coast, visit GulfCoastMurals.com.
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Writers: Owen Reith, Velina Georgi, Ethan Brown
Fact Checker: Hallie Cordingley
Editor: Ethan Brown
Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano
Music: Brett Sawka
The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.