TOXIC TOUR OF TEXAS
1988-1992
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RITA CARLSON
Texas City

      THIS MOVE TO GALESBURG, Illinois has changed me so much, because now I understand the problem better than I did before. Before I moved, it was all, “Get the industry and make them stop! They’ve got to change their production, and the way they make these chemicals; they’ve got to change the way they get rid of these chemical byproducts.” And now I see that the whole secret is to get people to understand what is happening along the Texas-Louisiana coast. You never hear it talked about, you never hear it mentioned, that over 60% of the chemicals produced in the US come from that five county area down there.
      Getting to people and making them understand how what is happening down there is going to affect their lives, even though they live a thousand, two thousand miles away. I do not know the secret to that, but until we make people all over the U.S. understand what’s happening where these chemicals are produced, and how it is going to degrade their lifestyle, these ways of manufacturing are going to continue.
      It’s going to take a nationwide change in lifestyle. How the environmental groups get this across to the nation is the key, because at this point, people are not believing what the environmental groups are saying. I don’t know how to wake people up, but that is what it is gonna take. People have to stop buying these plastic products. They have to stop puttin’ their money into things that are hurting people. Changing their lifestyle is the whole secret, because once these companies start feeling it in their pocketbook, they’ll stop producing. But as long as people keep buyin’ these products, and turnin’ a deaf ear and a blind eye to what these environmental groups are sayin’, it’s going to continue. There’s too many people out there participating
and continuing the cycle with their money. And there’s too many people in this nation going on with their day to day business, and just not listening.
      Whole programs come on television every week dealing with environmental issues, so it’s not like the information isn’t put out there in front of people; it’s just that they aren’t listening. So what’s the secret to makin’ people’s minds click? It’s just like my husband, Mike, and I said a month after we were in this in Texas City. It’s gonna take dead bodies on the sidewalks. It’s gonna take little children laying in hospital beds that are deformed and sick from these odors and waste.
      People have blinders on. They are in a complete state of denial. I talk about this every minute I can, and people up here in Illinois look at me like I’m from another planet. You can see it in their mannerisms that they think I am manufacturing this stuff up in my head; that no human being would do that to another; that these companies would not knowingly poison the ground and not knowingly poison the water where fish are taken for human consumption.
      So, what to do? Get these scientists out there talking. Push ‘em to get scientific studies and documentation done on the fish and the people. Scientific data is the only thing you can rely on when you are pushed against the wall. We need doctors who are willing to talk, and not be worried about the money they will lose by opening their mouths. Get these doctors out there to talk about the health effects they see on the populations that live around these petrochemical plants. The bottom line is to work on people, and find the secret to make them understand that these issues are true and real, and we are all affected.