‘Living in America’s cancer alley is like death row’

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“We are only fighting for fresh air,” Shamara Lavigne tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

The area around St. James in Louisiana, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, has the undesirable nickname “cancer alley”.

There are around 150 chemical plants located along this stretch of the Mississippi River. Data from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that those living in this area of Louisiana have the highest risk of getting cancer than anywhere in America.

Now residents of the small, predominantly black, community known as the fifth district are campaigning to stop another large plant being built near their homes.

But many feel let down by politicians. “I want them to stop saying yes to industry,” Sharon Lavigne tells Newsbeat, “if they can help us with that, they got my vote.”

The plants provide a large number of jobs in the state, and the petrochemical companies disagree with the government report saying it’s based on faulty science.

Video by Matt Wareham and Daniel Rosney

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