St. James Residents Continue Opposition to Formosa as Movement to Stop the Chemical Giant Grows
(St. James, LA)
St. James residents opposing the Formosa chemical complex were joined Saturday by people throughout the region, including Pat Bryant of Justice and Beyond, a longtime veteran of Cancer Alley battles who helped stop a Formosa project in the 1990s. “To stop this plant, we build a movement,” Mr. Bryant said. “To do that, we will come when you call and help in any way we can.” Mr. Bryant is a leader of the movement to stop the Entergy power plant from moving into New Orleans East, a facility he said would provide power to plants along Cancer Alley.
In its permit applications, Formosa states that it would release over 26 millions tons of air pollution every year in its production of throwaway plastics. The project is slated for construction in the 5th District of St. James, the district with the highest percentage (87%) of African Americans in the parish. White and African American neighbors of the proposed location cited ongoing health problems from pollution from the existing plants as a central reason for opposition.
“I was sick a year ago and God had me to heal for this,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder of the local opposition group, Rise St. James. “He healed me for this…God put it in my heart to go up against this 9.4 billion dollar industry and I will not back down. I am Rise St. James.”
The proposed site is one mile from an elementary school called St. Louis Academy (formerly Fifth Ward Elementary), several historic churches and dozens of family homes whose roots in St. James go back six generations.
“John 10:10 says a thief comes only to steal, slaughter and destroy,” said Ms. Lavigne. “Formosa is the thief that is trying to steal our land, is trying to destroy us. But Jesus said, I will give you life so that you can have it more abundantly.”
Rise St. James is engaging support from around the state and nation. Organizations supporting Saturday’s march included 350New Orleans, Break Free from Plastics, Justice and Beyond, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the NAACP.
Chasity White, Rise St. James, (225) 206 – 2673, email@example.com
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452 – 4909, firstname.lastname@example.org