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“But sometimes the smell is so bad, so bad you just can’t stand it.” There came a point when there was no more pretending, no more turning a blind, burning eye to the mysterious smells or the illnesses that seemed, in one way or another, to touch nearly everyone she knew.A couple years back, Sims said she noticed sores on her feet that wouldn’t heal.In this case, it means those who are — and aren’t – exposed to contaminated air, soil and water are largely segregated along racial and class lines.
The level of poverty is even greater in the city of Baton Rouge, where Exxon’s Standard Heights plant is located, with nearly 25% of the population below the poverty line.
About 50% of households headed by single women with children under the age of 5 are living in poverty.
Others packed up and moved when the air got too thick or too nasty for their little ones to handle.
Many more relocated after being bought out by the bigwigs over at the oil plant next door. Nobody here but me,” Sims said from her kitchen table in Standard Heights, an African American neighborhood along the fence line of Exxon Mobil’s colossal Baton Rouge plant and refinery, the 11th largest oil complex in the world.
And she even looked past the soft sheet of grime that she’d wake to find blanketing her car on many mornings.