Pelot-Hobbs’ writes: If you drive on I-10 between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, it’s hard to miss Norco. This 85- mile stretch along the Mississippi River is dubbed Louisiana’s industrial corridor by state officials and petrochemical capitalists but has long been known as “cancer alley” by local and national environmental justice activists. In the middle of the corridor, five miles into the horizon, the two and half miles of Norco’s refineries spit fire and smoke high into the air morning, noon, and night.
For those unaccustomed to the landscape of Louisiana’s river parishes, the 3,000-person town looks like a futuristic apparition of industrial apocalypse. Even those who routinely drive back and forth between New Orleans and Baton Rouge rarely give the place much thought; few people outside of St. Charles Parish get off the highway and venture into the town. Yet it is from the vantage point of being in the town that we can begin to unsee Norco as a startling aberration and instead can see it as a quintessential Louisiana petrochemical town, neither exceptional nor provincial, a place that for generations has been a nexus of life and death struggles against the violent extractions of racial capitalism (Robinson 2000).