By Tyrone Chambers, LABB Community Organizer, Istrouma Health Partnership
Last Friday, September 7, 2012, LABB Program Manager, Anna Hrybyk, and I went up to Baton Rouge for a community meeting of the Louisiana Democracy Project. There is a really involved program called “Pray For Our Air” led by WTQT’s Talk Show Queen Stephanie Anthony.
Anthony, who has been an integral part of the grassroots movement her entire adult life, led the meeting with great care and excitement while not making light of the severity of the topical issue. Kudos to you Stephanie! One Brett Spiers gave a very thorough presentation on a now closed criminal investigation of Pelican Refining. Spiers really wanted residents to leave the meeting knowing that actions are being taken and work is steadily being done to ensure a safer and cleaner environment for the people of Istrouma.
Anna gave a wonderfully informative presentation on the iWitness Pollution Map (click here to support grant funding for the map!), really stressing to community members the importance of reporting incidents, smells, smoke, and sounds being emitted from plants and refineries. We handed out several postcards with all the details of the map and reporting procedures including the two really important numbers to call.
Sadly enough, the ride home was- and I could hear Barry White singing with his chocolaty, smooth, deep voice- a “practice what you preach” moment for us. I must’ve texted the map four or five times along the highway back to New Orleans. The scents and stenches were horrid. From mile marker 169 all the way into Kenner we were tormented with smells of feces, rotten eggs, burning metal, dirty mardi gras beads, and sawdust. The strongest scent lingered on for miles around Gramercy and Lutcher and was also strong crossing the Bonnet Carre Spillway. See the links below actual reports.
If it always smells the way it did that night, it is an enormous indicator that we are doing good work and that there is a lot to still be done.