Environmental Test Case Averted

A chemical company has averted a national test case over "environmental racism" by suspending plans to build a plastics plant in an impoverished black community.

Shintech Inc. had planned to open the plant in Convent, a Mississippi River town between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But opponents filed a civil-rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), maintaining that too many plants were concentrated near the town.

The EPA had seen the dispute as a possible test case in its efforts to ensure "environmental justice" by preventing dangerous plants from being concentrated in poor, minority neighborhoods. But the announcement by Shintech on Thursday that it will instead try to open the plant in an industrial area near Baton Rouge puts an end to that challenge.

Although activists said they will continue fighting to keep the plant from being built anywhere in Louisiana, the EPA praised the decision. "The principles applied to achieve this solution should be incorporated into any blueprint for dealing with environmental justice issues in communities across the nation," EPA Administrator Carol Browner said.

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