The Environmental Protection Agency announced it has opened multiple investigations into several Louisiana state agencies to determine whether the civil rights of Black residents were violated. The industrial corridor where the residents live is known as "Cancer Alley."
According to the New Orleans Advocate, the series of federal probes comes after EPA Director Michael Regan visited the area last year and marks additional action on environmental racism taken at the federal level.
The investigations are specifically looking into permits granted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in St. John Parish, St. James Parish, and beyond plagued by chronic air pollution.
The Louisiana Department of Health is also being investigated, over its alleged failure "to provide parish residents with necessary information about health threats" in St. John Parish where an elementary school and homes located near a neoprene facility have been exposed to elevated levels of a known carcinogen, chloroprene, for years.
That facility is owned by a Japanese chemical firm, Denka, and is the only one in the country that emits chloroprene, The Guardian reported.
Black residents and local activists have raised awareness to the issue for years, filing complaints stating that the permits to build these types of facilities is racially-biased and failed to take community input into consideration.