The Mississippi River Valley's end in Louisiana has been the heart of the economy in the Deep South for centuries. Although the water has brought a lot of commerce and transportation options, factories and refineries on parts of the river now nicknamed "Chemical Alley" dropped staggering quantities of noxious and dangerous substances into the environment of ordinary Louisianans.
The Bayou State has higher rates of lung cancer and other serious illnesses than much of the rest of the country. Some activists and scientists attribute this to the particulates of foreign chemicals in the air and water. Many are concerned about the future of a project in the heart of New Orleans which could reintroduce even more.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering the expansion and deepening of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, an artificial waterway from the river to Lake Pontchartrain, which cuts through the Crescent City and its Lower Ninth Ward. Local scientists and students are on a mission to measure the air-quality impact of dredging the sediment at the bottom.
"Once you start dredging that water and digging it up you have no idea what's coming up - and once it's airborne how are you going to control it? You can't control it," claimed a local resident. Many in the neighborhood are monitoring the air quality with devices to see if any work on the canal brings a change.
People who believe their cancer was caused by pollutants may have a case for financial damages to help with treatment and recovery. An attorney can help claimants work out their options, from negotiated settlements to jury verdicts in civil court.