Step taken after Registry official refuses meeting with St. Bernard residents, fails to answer questions

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(New Orleans, La) The controversy surrounding the Louisiana Tumor Registry and Dr. Catherine Correa’s defense of polluting industries intensified today, with determined St. Bernard residents and their allies in front of the Tumor Registry office in New Orleans. “I hate for her to say the refineries are not causing health problems when we all know they are,” said Joy Lewis of the St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality. “I have had cancer, my daughter has died of cancer. Dr. Correa hasn’t proved anything to me with her statements.”

The alliance of groups is taking four steps on Monday morning:

1.    Going into the office of the Tumor Registry to re issue the invitation – this time personally – to Dr. Correa and the Tumor Registry Director, Vivian Chen, to meet with the groups in Chalmette and take a tour of their neighborhood.

2.    Providing a pledge – with space for a Tumor Registry official signature - that Tumor Registry officials will never again use their position to deny the link between the petrochemical industry’s release of carcinogens and cancer in Louisiana.

3.    Contacting the members of the Tumor Registry Board of Directors to alert them to the situation.

4.    Requesting a list of all individuals, corporations and other entities that provide funding to the Louisiana Tumor Registry.

The controversy began in early September when the Tumor Registry released a study that found lung cancer incidence in St. Bernard Parish to be the highest in the state. Dr. Catherine Correa, an epidemiologist, initially stated that the Tumor Registry study did not determine causation of the higher cancer rates. St. Bernard residents were alarmed when she later abandoned the absence of causation and said that polluting industries in the parish were not responsible for the cancer. 

“We are concerned that a public official is abusing her position in defense of private industry,” said Anne Rolfes, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “People are dying of cancer all over this state. Ignoring industries that dump thousands of pounds of carcinogens is no way to solve the problem.” According to its own reports to the Toxic Release Inventory, the Exxon Mobil Refinery in Chalmette is the principal source of carcinogens in the parish. The refinery is currently being sued for violations of the Clean Air Act, including leaking seals on tanks holding benzene, a known carcinogen. 

Dr. Correa has failed to even respond to a letter and numerous e-mails from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and its members. 

In her response to the St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality, Dr. Correa admitted that the Tumor Registry study did not determine causation but failed to acknowledge the principal concern – her abuse of her position as a public official defending private polluting industries. 

The organizations have thus determined to pull Dr. Correa and the Louisiana Tumor Registry out of their Ivory Tower. They have re issued the invitation to the director of the Tumor Registry and to Dr. Correa. “When someone isn’t doing their job, you have to go to their boss,” said Joy Lewis of Chalmette, “so we are now contacting Dr. Vivian Chen and the Tumor Registry Board of Directors.”

Where: 1600 Canal Street at N Claiborne, in front of the office of the La Tumor Registry

When: 10:30 AM, Monday, September 27th, 2004

Good visuals and photo opportunities, including an entrance of the office building. 

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