The land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is often referred to as ‘Cancer Alley’. The area is dominated by chemical plants and is consequently one of the most polluted places in the USA. ProPublica has used Environmental Protection Agency scientific model to map out the concentrations of toxic chemicals between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
In a Notoriously Polluted Area of the Country, Massive New Chemical Plants Are Still Moving in uses a story map to show the location of chemical plants in the area and the pollution that they are causing. As you progress through the story the map shows the air toxicity levels from cancer-causing chemicals based on the EPA scientific model. The story map also reveals where Louisiana has granted permits for new chemical plants to be built and what their impact will be on the pollution levels in the neighborhoods where they are built.
ProPublica has also looked at where these highly polluting chemical companies are being allowed to be built. It found that Louisiana are refusing permits in areas which have a predominantly white population but are allowing their construction in predominantly black populated districts. Some conurbations in Cancer Alley have city status and are able to refuse planning for new chemical plants. However they can’t stop the pollution from nearby plants.
At the end of the ProPublica story you can enter any address in the region to show a map visualizing the local air toxicity levels.