St. James residents sue parish over chemical plant pollution


Residents of St. James Parish filed a federal lawsuit last week raising allegations of civil rights, environmental justice and religious liberty violations, reports The Associated Press.

The lawsuit names St. James Parish as the defendant and says the parish council approved the construction of several factories that emit harmful amounts of toxic chemicals in two majority-Black districts of the parish. It says the pollution negatively affected the health of the area’s Black residents.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are calling for a moratorium on petrochemical plants like the one being built by Formosa Plastics that was approved by the council in 2019. The Associated Press reached out to the council for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

For several years leading up to today’s suit, Black residents of St. James Parish had lobbied the parish council and state government to do something about air pollution from the area’s petrochemical plants. In 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency said it had evidence that Black residents in the region have an increased risk of cancer from at least one nearby plant, which they sued last month in a separate case. Read the full story.