An activist claims that a chemical plant in LaPlace, Louisiana has poisoned the air of the entire parish by emitting fumes of a potentially carcinogenic byproduct into the atmosphere. The plant is now one of several parties named in a wrongful death and negligence suit filed by the families of 20 children and young adults. Other parties named in the suit include individual managers and leaders at the plant, the Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. 

At issue is a substance called chloroprene. It is an invisible compound, a by-product of the manufacture of neoprene rubber, and the Environmental Protection Agency considers it likely to be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. The chemical plant has been emitting chloroprene into the air since at least 2015, and air-monitoring results continue to show chloroprene in the area around the plant. One of the closest locations to the plant is an elementary school that children still attend. 

It is not entirely clear whether any of the 20 children whose families brought the lawsuit attended that particular school. However, the suit alleges that exposure to chloroprene in the air caused the 20 children and young people physical, mental and emotional suffering caused by cancer, serious illness and birth defects linked to the exposure, and that four of the 20 children have wrongfully lost their lives due to the negligence of the company operating the plant and the regulatory bodies of the state government. 

According to the lawsuit, some of the children and young people became ill due to the proximity of the chemical plant to their homes, schools, and workplaces while others were allegedly still in the womb when the exposure occurred. In the latter cases, it is unclear whether the mothers suffered any ill effects from the chloroprene.

It can make a parent feel powerless to watch a child sicken and die as a result of someone else’s negligence, but families in this situation have the right to consult an attorney if they choose to do so.