In January 2020, I spent 4 days with a team of recent Tulane graduates and current undergraduates collecting oral histories from residents of Colfax, Louisiana. The people we met with live adjacent to the Clean Harbors open burn facility. This facility, the only burn toxic materials incineration site in the lower 48, has been in operation for decades. In the past five years, the site has been awarded a contract to dispose of expired and surplus munitions–including bombs–by burning and exploding the munitions on site. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality notes the lack of any filtration, smokestack, or barrier technology to protect nearby residents from potentially toxic smoke. A Colfax-based coalition has worked with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network to draw attention to the disruption to bucolic rural life brought by smoke and explosions and concurrent increase in incidents of respiratory distress, thyroid disease. In one photo, courtesy of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, my partner organization for the Mellon fellowship, is an image of the burn platforms in operation. The second is a shot of me after an interview held, within two miles of the Clean Harbors facility.
If you are concerned about Clean Harbors’ abuses of its open burn permit, the Coalition encourages you to sign their petition to the LDEQ in support of its recent (LDEQ) Notice of Intent to Deny Hazardous Waste Operating Renewal Application for Clean Harbors Colfax AI 32096 Permit Number LAD 981 055 791- RN- OP-1 Activity Number PER 20170002. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.