A provocative new video from Brave New Films exposes what appear to be serious environmental crimes in Crossett, Arkansas, caused by waste product at a Georgia-Pacific plant. Georgia-Pacific is owned by Koch Industries.
In the video, the citizens of Penn Road, a residential neighborhood behind a channel into which the Georgia-Pacific plywood, paper mill, and formaldehyde resin plants are dumping their wastewater, are seen suffering from the effects of poor air quality and carcinogens in their environment. David Bouie, a pastor at the local church for 22 years in the area, says in the video. “We have 15 homes in this area, and maybe 11 people have died with cancer. Something is wrong on this street, Penn Road, where I live.”
The Georgia Pacific plant is the only large manufacturer in the city, and their plant is directly upstream from the channel behind Penn Road. “Whatever’s in (the water) is killing these trees. You can see the steam coming from the stuff. It gets up in the air and it flows over where our property is,” says Bouie in the video.
Another participant in the video, Dolores Wimberley, a former resident of Penn Road, describes how her daughter Laetitia died at the age of 43. “She was a non-smoker, she was not a drinker and she got lung cancer. You wonder, where did it come from?”
Several of the living residents of Penn Road are seen on breathing respirators, living with severe coughing spells and nausea. The city of Crossett has one of the leading incidents of exposure to cancer-causing toxins in the nation.
The irony here is that David Koch, one of the co-owners of Koch Industries, for which Georgia-Pacific is a subsidiary, was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, and as a result has given millions of dollars to cancer research. He even has a research institute named after him at MIT. But Koch’s company has resisted the labeling of formaldehyde as a carcinogen, and that formaldehyde is slowly killing the residents of Penn Road in Crossett. Koch Industries is one of the top ten worst polluters in the country according to a UMass-Amherst study, mainly on the strength of this use of formaldehyde.
Many examples of environmental crimes by Koch Industries were covered in the long expose by Bloomberg News. But this video, with its direct depictions of the victims of the crimes, could have more staying power.
Activists with the Occupy Wall Street movement plan to visit the homes of millionaires today, including the home of David Koch. Maybe they can watch this video as a primer.
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network assisted Brave New Films in the making of the film.