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Daily News Archive
From September 6, 2001

Wood Treatment Facility Contaminates Louisiana Community

According to a September 5, 2001 report by the Environment News Service (ENS), Bossier City, Louisiana, home of the former Lincoln Creosote Plant, has some of the highest levels of chemical contamination, cancers and birth defects ever documented in the United States.

ENS reports that the Lincoln Creosote plant is now a Superfund site on the National Priorities List of the most hazardous sites in the country. Like many wood treatment facilities, it was operated adjacent to a residential area, exposing hundreds of people to toxic chemicals. During its 30+ years of operation, the plant produced telephone poles and railroad ties, treated with creosote, copper-chromium arsenate (CCA) and pentachlorophenol (PCP).

Neighbors of the plant believe their health problems, including sterility, birth defects and several forms of cancer, are a direct result of the wood treatment facility. Others argue that these diseases are merely chance, or the result of bad genes. However, Dr. Patricia Williams, a medical professor from Louisiana State University found that the incidence of leukemia in Bossier City from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s is as much as 40 times higher than normal populations. She also discovered that incidences of birth defects are 300 percent higher that those recorded during a comparable time period in Osaka, Japan, the site where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.

Although a lawsuit involving 2,100 current and former residents was settled out of court with Lincoln Creosote last year, many of the plaintiffs were disappointed because they received no funds for future medical monitoring expenses and no compensation for their children and grandchildren who suffer from secondary exposure, reported ENS. Bossier City resident Michael Davis, who worries about his daughter Brittany who started menstruating at age six and still suffers from growth hormone deficiency, asks, "Why was consideration not given to children not living at the site but bearing the weight of the effects?"

Beyond Pesticides has published two reports on the health risks linked to exposure to CCA, penta and creosote. Poison Poles examines the toxic trail left by these chemicals through manufacture, use and disposal. Pole Pollution focuses on EPA's health risk of penta. Both reports are available on Beyond Pesticides' website.