Facing South

Koch Industries plant linked to cancer epidemic in Arkansas community (video)

A new video from Brave New Films is drawing attention to an unusual number of cancer cases and other serious health problems in an Arkansas community next to an industrial facility owned by Koch Industries. The Kansas-based oil and chemical conglomerate is owned by the billionaire Koch brothers, who've spent millions of their fortune fighting environmental regulation.

The plant in question is a Georgia-Pacific mill in Crossett, Ark. that produces bleached paperboard products. Koch Industries acquired Georgia-Pacific in 2005.

According to the facility's latest toxics release inventory from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Crossett plant released over 913,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to the air in 2010 and another 136,000 pounds to nearby waterways, and buried over 444,000 pounds in the soil to degrade.

Among the chemicals that the plant emits to the air and water are known carcinogens such as formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as well as probable carcinogens including acetaldehyde and lead. In fact, the Crossett plant is the 39th-biggest air emitter of formaldehyde in the U.S., while a USA Today study ranked Crossett in the top percentile of communities for schoolchildren's exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

The Brave New Films video documents how residents of Penn Road in West Crossett, an African-American community close to the plant, are suffering from a host of respiratory problems and cancers that they link to pollution from the facility. The video is part of the group's Koch Brothers Exposed series, which earlier this year looked at the Kochs' role in a battle over school resegregation in Wake County, N.C. (I was among the reporters interviewed in that video.)

Brave New Films partnered on the latest video with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, as the plant in question sits along the Ouachita River that flows from Arkansas into Louisiana. The groups are hoping to bring awareness to what's happening in Crossett and are calling for an investigation by the EPA and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

"Something is wrong on this street, Penn Road, where I live," David Bouie, a pastor and reserve deputy sheriff, says as the video opens. "Something is wrong here in this community."

Watch the full video here:

Image: 
Facing South
Facing South
Appreciate this post? Please donate & share below.
Reddit »

People Referenced:

Comments

unethical business from the start

I am not surprised by this, I lived in Crossett from 1986-1999, it was still owned by Georgia Pacific (the company responsible for this, before they were bought out by Koch in 2005). My father worked for Georgia Pacific for 13 years. I can tell you from personal experience that Georgia Pacific is by far the most unethical business I have ever known. They are only concerned with producing their product for profit, and they are not concerned with the safety of the public. They are killing people with their profit and it is obvious they don't care.

Sounds like someone should

Sounds like someone should call Erin Brokovich. And I am completely serious about that. I don't live there so it would not be helpful for me to do it.

Cancer in Crossett

We Crossett Natives have known for a long time that cancer is too prevelant here. It is concerning to notice that we all are afraid to let our identity be known when we respond to this video. Ashley County is corrupt in the Law Enforcement and the Politicians for the most part. People are afraid of the "powers that be." It is time for some of the big guns to come in and clean up Crossett and the entire Ashley County area. Someone please help this dying community soon before more lives are lost.

Koch Ind

I have had family in Texas and southeast Arkansas my whole life. I have actually worked in the mill, and in the town of Crossett. I would notice my nose burning, and head aches when I had to be in town for more than a couple of hours. I actually asked the head of their EPA dept one day: "So what happens if you guys are out of compliance with the federal EPA folks?" to which he replied, "We pay the fine, it is in the budget, it is the smell of money". I knew then that there would be more and more trouble with this situation as time passed....it is a hell hole.

I'm from Crossett born and

I'm from Crossett born and raised. I agree this is a issue that needs to be taking care of but thr fault does NOT fall on the Koch brothers. They bought Georgia Pacific in 2005, these creeks have been here for over 70 years every since Georgia Pacific bought the Crossett Company mill. I'm pretty sure when Koch bought GP they didn't say "oh no were not going to buy one of it's biggest producing mills because it's a hazard to the community". I would take it as far as saying that they didn't even know those creeks were here. The fault is no ones,simple, it just needs to be fixed.

Koch brothers and Crossett mill

The Kochs have owned the mill since 2005 and have done nothing to clean it up? Really? This is 2014!

Koch Brothers

PUH-LEASE! Give me a break. The Koch brothers are PURE EVIL!

They almost certainly knew.

Having done due diligence work on some industrial company acquisitions and served as part of the team negotiating with the EPA on the cleanup of a dump area used by a company before we acquired it, I can state with confidence that Koch Industries knew exactly what they were buying in terms of environmental impacts and potential health damage risks when they acquired Georgia Pacific. The Koch brothers are too shrewd not to have investigated. Because the environmental liabilities are bought along with the acquired assets and are used by the acquiring company to justify a lower purchase price, if the GP acquisition was made without investigation, the Koch Industries execs are too incompetent to be in management positions. And, because Koch Industries would have been totally knowledgeable about GP's processes and the chemicals they use (after all, chemicals is one of Koch Industries' businesses), the people doing the due diligence investigations would have known exactly what to look for. If the land acquired as part of the GP purchase was used as collateral for any bank loans, the banks would have insisted on an environmental impact investigation. Reason: if the site could potentially be classed as a chemical pollution cleanup site/area, the estimated cost of cleanup would have been factored into reducing the collateral value of the land. If the land is polluted and would have to be cleaned up in order for the bank to dispose of the collateral to recover a loan default, it has no value to the bank as loan collateral. No banker(at least none of the credible ones that used to run banks) wants to be in the business of holding unsaleable, polluted land or in the position of having to run an environmental cleanup on a chemical dump site. It is more likely that Koch Industries factored the cost of a cleanup and the cost of any future claims from people whose health is damaged by the plant's pollution into to their acquisition price and are callously treating the cancer, health problems, and deaths as "just another cost of doing business."

Georgia-Pacific, Koch Brothers

I grew up in Crossett. I lived there from 1962 until 1982, when I wasn't away at college. I am, and always will be proud to say that I am from Crossett; however ,when I got out of college I said I'll never go back to live there because the entire livelihood of the town depends on this paper mill, and peripheral industries which were(are)not something I wanted to be part of.

I agree that the Koch brothers are bad people. They use money to manipulate politicians, and other people of power. They are just part of big money, and big industry that have ruined this country by forcing small business, and everyday people out of business and jobs. The situation from Corpus Christi involving the Bush administration is a perfect example of how Republican "big money" schemes have ruined America.

All that said, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why this pollution issue IS JUST NOW ARISING!! As far back as I can remember as a kid growing up in Crossett, "STINK CREEK" has been flowing through the area discussed in this documentary. Anyone with any sense at all had an idea that it was extremely harmful to the environment, and more than likely humans too. Of course the possibility exists that today it contains more harmful elements than it did in the past, but, once again...this isn't new news. In addition to this liquid pollution, tons and tons of pollution are released into the atmosphere all day, every day which cover the town and its residents.

All-in-all, I feel for the people of Crossett. It is a mere shell of the town it once was, and now its people are suffering physically from the long term exposure of the pollution from the industry which is the heartbeat of the economy there.

I was born and raised in

I was born and raised in Crossett. Without GP there will be no town, they employ the majority of people who live here. With that said, my family have been lifelong residents and not one of us has cancer and we are a very large family. These are also not things that have been done just since the Koch brothers took over. I'm not saying that their practices ar right and if they are really causing cancer then there is something that needs to be done, but I am saying that just because some environmental group says there is a link doesn't mean there is one. It's like saying that violent crime increases in the summer and the consumption of ice cream increases in the summer so eating ice cream causes violent crime.

Money and greed bring out the

Money and greed bring out the true colors of individuals. I was raised in Hamburg, a small town adjacent to Crossett. This plant is the mainstay of the economy and people get really upset when anyone speaks out against it. The number of people dying of cancer in Ashley County, Arkansas (and many other areas in the south where these mills are pumping carcinogens into the environment), is higher than the national average and this has been well known for years. I lost my mother to cancer when she was fifty years old. I was diagnosed with cancer at thirty and fortunately am a 16 year survivor. Many have not been as fortunate. I moved away twenty years ago to raise my children in a much better place, but I still have family members that live there and I worry about their exposure to these deadly chemicals. For a community that professes to be so deeply Christian in their foundation, it amazes me to see the blind eye that is turned to the atrocities that are being committed by this industry against the people of the community. Sad that money can have this type of control over people. I agree that the EPA and the federal government can over regulate, but wake up people, our friends and family members are dying and suffering terrible illness because of the lack of regulation. That is NOT ok.

Crossett

I have lived in Crossett my entire life. I watched the video, and i believe some of these things are inaccurately potrayed. For example, the people in this video have died of cancer between 2005 and 2007. Koch didnt even take over until 2005 i believe. They are being accused of killing people they did not kill. These people with cancer more than likely had it long before Koch came. I agree there are pollutants in the environment. But the video makes it appear the ditch has been dug recently. "Stink Creek" which is what local residents call this area, has been around for years. Those ditches have been there for years. This is nothing new. Chemicals have openly flowed there for years. I remember as a child going over that bridge and being in awe of all i saw. I know for a fact it has been there 35 years. Exactly the same as it is in this video. . I agree there are harmful things flowing down those ditches, but hold the correct people accountable. Georgia Pacific is ultimately responsible. People have been sick in this area for years, not just on Penn Road. Its not just Crossett. Those pollutants spread in the air to El Dorado, Strong, Hamburg, Fountain Hill, Bastrop. It is not isolated in Crossett. I agree something should be done, but blame those who are actually accountable.

Georgia-Pacific

Georgia Pacific is owned by Koch.

Excuses

And people did not just start getting ill out of the blue when GP was bought out by Koch in 2005, don't point fingers GP...even though with my experience that is what the company are masters at....

My dad

My daddy worked there for prolly 30 yrs right out of high school. I'd ask him myself exactly how long, but he died of a rare disease in his mid 40's, after it was discovered he only lived two years. He is buried in the exact same cemetery as the one in the film. I grew up 15 minutes north of crossett. I myself still live here, only now I live in town. I suffer from horrible allergys, including skin rashes from time to time for no apparent reason. My aunt died of cancer his sister, and their mother, my grandmother died of it as well. These deaths all occurred within just a matter of a few years centered right around 2005.

It's not just Penn road

It's not just Penn road effected by this there is other people and roads in west Crossett to.

I want everyone to post this

I want everyone to post this everywhere they can for so we can get some attention to what I have said for 30 yrs

Ignorance And Bias

The effluent system of the mill was established by the Crossett Company over half a century ago. Georgia-Pacific bought the mill in the '60s and the Koch Bros about a little over a decade ago. The effluent system meets the EPA's regs.

That's the simple facts. Feel like you've been lied to? Can you keep your health insurance? Did your premiums go down $2500? People should know better by now.

I live in a community right

I live in a community right down the road from this place. My neighbors & I live closer to the sediment pond where all these chemicals go. None of us are having these problems, nor are we suing the company. We are all Caucasian, hmmm is this just affecting African-Americans in West Crossett? Seems fishy to me.

Crossett

My family hasn't been a life long resident of this town like most. I moved away as soon as I finished school back to my hometown. Unfortunately my family bought a house there and as we learned a little to late, once you buy property there you are stuck. There is no leaving this town unless you move there with the intent of not staying. It is driven by money and politics and I fear for my family's safety.

CROSSETT

The Koch brothers are mentally ill people with money. They are dangerous. My gut says some type of personality disorder.There is a lost admiration and respect for all life. Their souls are lost in a lost world of greed and money. Their Father really f---ed them up at a young age.
They are killing innocent people. Everyday. They are the real terrorists that we should be waging war against. They view the death of others and other forms of life as part of the capitalistic profit driven machine. That the loss of life is the "cost" of doing business. They are pathological.
What I cant get is they have everything...and anything that they could ever want. Why destroy us? Why knowingly kill Crossett? Why f--- up America, why break our democracy? Why can't they leave us alone?
The only positive thing is that they will be dead soon. They are old, haggered, and ugly. They looked so old and used up from fear, anger, and lack of love, peace or spirit...It is soooo sad what happens to some people. Eaten up by power, money, entitlement and ego. My prayers go out to the people of Crossett.....I do not recognize America any longer after seeing the documentary.

LOL

Amazing how the Koch Bros did all this almost 50 years before they bought the mill.
Learn to think for yourself.

i saw the documentary, i was

i saw the documentary, i was stunned. i couldn't believe that in this day in age you could pollute a stream like that and get away with it. the stream was visibly off-gassing.

Um - it's not a stream

It's the mill's effluent system. Doing what it's supposed to do.

Crossett

Hope something is done very soon, I have lost loved ones in my hometown to cancer and NOW my father is taking treatments for cancer. It is seriously something going on in CROSSETT that needs investigating and QUICKLY!!!!

Post new comment

You may enter comments here to publicly respond to this article. If you are having trouble posting your comment, please contact help@southernstudies.org.
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.