Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chemical Cartography

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM

This month's ethyl acrylate leak at a Dow chemical facility in St. Charles Parish has left a bad taste (or smell) in many a mouth (or nose). Darwin Bond-Graham set up an interactive Google map in which people can log what they experienced in its aftermath — from inhaling a heavy chemical whiff to much more serious problems. With more participants, the map could create a sort of amateur timeline of the chemical's dispersion from its location across the river to other parts of south Louisiana, as well as demonstrate how far its effects were felt.

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In an email, Bond-Graham says: "... the map is a medium for people to record their experience of the spill. Mostly this is going to entail people describing when and where they were when that horrible stench first appeared. But I'm hoping some people closer up to Hahnville in the river parishes find it and record what they went through. I've been sending the link out to people I know and hoping that they'll forward it on. It's a small way to give people some power in this otherwise disempowering situation.

"You know, people in New Orleans often forget that we're smack in the middle of cancer alley, that between here and Baton Rouge there are 300 some odd petrochemical plants, and that all of them are emitting carcinogens, teratogens, and other nasties. The Dow spill was bad, but also fortuitous because it was such a pungent chemical. It could serve as a wake up call for us all. Is this really the kind of economy we want? How did LA end up the chemical capitol of N. America? Who bears the heaviest burdens from industrial pollution? Will the land upriver around these plants be clean for future generations, or are we throwing it all away? And for what? Plastic consumer goods and chemical fertilizers, most of which are unsustainable, things we need to transition away from anyway."

An entry titled "From Plantation to Plants" in Bond-Graham's blog discusses the plant and the leak incident in-depth.

You can add your two cents to the map by clicking the image above or by following this link.
Thanks to B. Funck over at www.noladiy.org for the link.

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