Condea Vista Chemical Plant
Condea Vista Chemical Company is situated in Southwest Louisiana in the Calcasieu Parish of Mossville, not far from Lake Charles and the border of Texas. It is one of three petrochemical facilities in the area that produce PVC, the remaining two being PPG and Conoco. For a long time, the plant has been under suspicion with regard to the widespread illness in the African-American population who dwell in Mossville. Mossville and the surrounding areas are currently known as “Cancer Alley.”
Condea Vista has one of the worst histories in the nation regarding industrial accidents and chemical leaks into the environment. In 1994, according to Louisiana Environmental Protection Agency records, Condea Vista reported over 35 chemical accidents over the course of the year as well as the release of more than 129,000 pounds of chemicals into the atmosphere. An additional 90 accidental chemical releases took place in 1995.
In 1997, the facility was charged with discharging about 47 million pounds of ethylene dichloride–a known carcinogen–into a local stream, which resulted in the contamination of local groundwater supplies. Shortly after, hundreds of employees filed lawsuits against the facility, stating they were exposed to EDC while controlling and cleaning a spill that was the result of a leaky underground pipeline.
Condea Vista Chemical Company is well-known for their negligent attitude towards the safety and health of their employees, as well as those who live in the community. Chemical plant laborers have always faced numerous job risks. Working in such plants, regardless of what is being manufactured within, typically involves contact with extreme temperatures, toxic chemicals, and other dangers. Until the 1980s, one method of controlling high temperatures in such facilities was to utilize asbestos insulation.
When the asbestos insulation became damaged, toxic fibers were released into the air. Anyone working in such areas could have inhaled these dangerous fibers, which are linked to numerous asbestos-related diseases. Medical conditions related to exposure to asbestos include asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Physicians know that those who labored in specific occupations have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than others. Chemical plant employees are in this particular category due to their continual exposure to asbestos. Workers at plants like Condea Vista have been diagnosed with the disease. As the latency period is as long as 20 to 50 years after contact for mesothelioma, even those who were exposed as early as the 1960s may still be at risk for contracting such diseases.