MOSS POINT — Past and present industrial plants have contaminated the Moss Point area’s water, soil and air with toxic chemicals, damaging people’s health, says chemist and environmental activist Wilma Subra.
Three plants spewed more than 200 tons of chemicals into the air before they closed, including 193 tons from the International Paper-Moss Point Mill that closed in 2001, she said.
About 65 people heard the report on water and soil tests made by Subra Co. of New Iberia, La., The Mississippi Press reported.
Chris Holland, vice president of cancer services at Singing River Health System Regional Cancer Center, said last week that Moss Point’s cancer rate is in line with that of other areas in the system.
“It could potentially have a higher death rate, based on a lack of cancer screenings and cancer education, but we just don’t have the data to back that up,” he said.
Subra said that before Hurricane Katrina, “95 percent of the people in this area and the Moss Point area were ill. They were exposed to a lot of the toxic chemicals from the industrial facilities. Then after the hurricane, the 5 percent that were well were sick as a result of the sediment sludge that came onshore.
“The 95 percent that were already ill were even sicker and had additional health impacts and severe health impacts based on what they had before.”
She said sludge carried in by the storm surge to Moss Point/Escatawpa, Pascagoula and Ocean Springs “were contaminated with toxic heavy metals — arsenic, barium, chromium, lead and mercury — and a variety of microorganisms, such as coliform and fecal coliform bacteria.”