Chloroprene: The Chemical Behind Cancer Alley’s Latest Lawsuit

The Denka chloroprene plant puts the majority Black community of LaPlace, Louisiana, at higher risks of cancer. How can their air and future be healthier?

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What's your favorite trendy carcinogen?

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.

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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.


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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