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Assessing industrial pollution and health impacts in Pascagoula, Mississippi to assist in buyout efforts

Pascagoula, Mississippi

Featured image for the project, Assessing industrial pollution and health impacts in Pascagoula, Mississippi to assist in buyout efforts

Image by Ed Judkins from Pixabay

Pascagoula, Mississippi is located near Bayou Casotte and the Gulf of Mexico. Large facilities nearby have been causing visible pollution and the resulting health impacts have been burdening the community for years. The community and Cherokee Concerned Citizens have collected various air pollution and health data throughout the past ten years. Through this project, we hope to synthesize this data to visually communicate the present data to the community, county officials, and identify areas where more data may be needed. This will allow the community to take further informed action toward their goal of a buyout and increase understanding throughout the community.

Description

About the Community

Cherokee Concerned Citizens (CCC) is a fenceline community in Pascagoula, Mississippi organized to protect the health and well-being of our families and neighbors from exposure to industrial pollution. The neighborhood is over 60 years old. Many residents have lived in the community since it was first developed. Over time the industry has expanded to include seven large oil-chemical facilities, releasing over a million pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, land, and water annually.

They officially formed in 2013 after several learned they weren’t the only ones submitting reports to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) of the noise, odors, and dust issues. Fifty households came together to organize for a buyout. CCC see a buyout as the best solution for their community because they believe environmental regulation and enforcement will not be enough to reduce the health risks associated with living so close to so many polluting facilities.

According to ProPublica investigative research, the neighborhood is considered a cancer hotspot with some households at risk of cancer 3.4 times more than what EPA says is acceptable. Based on their health survey, the people in their neighborhood are sick about nine days a month. At least 35 people have been diagnosed with cancer, and many reported chronic respiratory and sinus issues, lung, heart, neurological, and other health issues. In the last five years, at least 23 people have died of cancer or heart and lung issues.

 

About the Project

The Cherokee subdivision of Pascagoula, Mississippi is near several large polluting facilities including a Chevron Refinery, BP/Amoco/Enterprise gas processing plant, First Chemical/Chemours, Gulf LNG, Mississippi Phosphates, VT Halter and Halter Marine. These facilities have been emitting large amounts of industrial pollution harming the local resident’s health. The local community organization, Cherokee of Concerned Citizens, has large amounts of data from past studies including EPA monitors, self reported data, permit information and testing, PM data, VOC data, site test results, noise pollution, Benzene monitors, personal sampling, state or federal level public records, and health surveys.

The goal of this project is to synthesize the information that already exists and make these findings accessible and understandable. Through this project we hope to identify what in the air is most threatening and the highest potential health risks. The current air pollution data can be used to connect air pollution and potential health outcomes. This process may also identify missing information that could be addressed in future studies.

The community plans on continuing to hold future community events to share a one-page report with residents to better understand how the pollution is affecting their health.  Cherokee of Concerned Citizens also plans to present these findings to the community, local municipal government, and to better understand what is happening to their community to assist in future buyouts.

Timeline and Milestones

~12 months

Scientist Wanted

Desired Skills and Qualifications:

  • Environmental Health Scientist
  • Technical Experience with permits would be beneficial
  • Experience with air quality analysis and industrial pollution
  • Experience and/or desire to participate in community education, outreach, and engagement
  • Experience with data analysis and visual presentation for diverse audiences
  • Experience with citizen science or community science
  • Strong listening and collaboration skills
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns
  • Open to Student Involvement in the Project
  • Relaxed, easy-going personality with a good sense of humor
  • The scientist should be able to join video calls (including audio / video / remote collaboration on documents) regularly

Thriving Earth Exchange asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact to which they can contribute as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators. This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.

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