That's our neighborhood -- Cherokee subdivision. There are about 130 homes in our subdivision and as you can see to the east, there are several large industrial facilities. Seven in all (not all are pictured here) and a Superfund site.
The list includes Chevron Refinery, Gulf LNG (liquified natural gas terminal), VT Halter & Halter Marine & Offshore (both are owned by ST Engineering), BP Enterprise (gas processing plant), Destin Pipeline, and First Chemical (currently sold to another company), and MS Phosphates Superfund.
We officially formed in 2013 after several of us learned they weren't the only ones submitting reports to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) of the noise, odors, and dust issues we believed were causing health issues for our families. Fifty families came together. We decided that we wanted a buyout. The last ten years have taught us that for most of us, the only solution is a buyout. 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, our neighborhood is considered a cancer hot spot with some households at risk of cancer 3.4 times more than what EPA says is acceptable. Based on our own health survey, we found that on average people in our neighborhood are sick about nine days a month. We documented at least 35 cases of cancer and many households with 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.
Unfortunately, the burden of proof falls on us. Reporting potential violations and meeting with decision makers and regulatory agencies about our concerns generally (with few exceptions) hasn't led to further investigation by those charged with protecting the environment and public health.
We have had to find the time, money, and expertise to conduct our own investigations. We are not alone in this. Environmental justice communities across the nation are taking matters into their own hands. Over the years, we have taken several air, soil, and water samples and conducted our own health survey.