A group of Pascagoula residents are moving forward in their fight to improve the air quality in their neighborhood, air they say has been badly polluted by chemicals coming from nearby industries.
The residents in the Bayou Casotte neighborhood held a meeting Thursday. When Karen Kilbern moved into her home, everything seemed perfect, but then things began to change. Kilbern says, "A couple years ago, we noticed that the air quality in our neighborhood had become heavier. We couldn't take our kids outside to play."
The emissions from Mississippi Phosphates have been drifting into the neighborhood near the plant, and residents have begun to have medical issues and are reaching out so they can hopefully get a breath of fresh air. Howard Page of the Steps Coalition says, "There's operations going on in Bayou Casotte, in particular, Mississippi Phosphates, and maybe others that are making it where the community literally cannot live there."
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (M.D.E.Q.) and the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) organized this meeting together so that they could better educate the community on how to fight industrial pollution in their area, so that they can keep their community safe and beautiful. Melissa McGee-Collier, the Director of the Office of Community Engagement for M.D.E.Q., says, "So this particular meeting was to call them together so that they could understand what M.D.E.Q.'s role is in protecting the environment as well as human health, and part of that is to issue permits to the companies that they are concerned about."
Residents gathered at the Pascagoula Senior Center were given informational packets and shown both how to find any active permits in their area, as well as report any issues that might arise. Kilbern is thankful for the information, but has learned a lesson and hopes to pass it on to others. Kilbern closes, "Before you buy a home, before you even rent a property, just because the neighborhood is amazing and the community is amazing, doesn’t mean it's the best place to raise your family."