11 Minute Rough Cut
There once was a Louisiana town called Mossville, a beautiful community rich in natural resources and history, founded by free people of color in the late 1700's. During and after the Jim Crow era, it was a safe-haven, insulated from the horrors of the racist south. Neighbors took care of one another and the town prided itself on its self sufficiency. But in recent years, it has drastically changed and no longer resembles the place it once was. Surrounded by 14 petrochemical plants, Mossville can hardly sustain life anymore. There have been countless chemical spills and releases, and many of the residents have suffered from reproductive and respiratory illnesses, as well as wide spread cancers. Now Mossville is the site of apartheid-born, South African chemical giant Sasol’s newest plant – a $21.2 billion project and the largest of its type in the western hemisphere.
But the community struggles to let go, and at the center of it all is a man named Stacey Ryan. Stacey, a descendant of the town's founders, is 47 years old and a lifelong resident of Mossville. In the past 10 years Stacey has lost both parents to cancer and seen the historic neighborhood he grew up in demolished to make way for Sasol’s massive project. While struggling with health issues himself, he experiences these changes from the view of his parents former home, a FEMA trailer in the shadow of Sasol’s existing plant, and smack in the middle of where the new facility is being built – and although he is alone and disconnected from all utilities, he refuses to leave. As Sasol encroaches on citizens’ property with buyout offers, community members have to decide whether to exist in a chemical war zone, or abandon land that has been in their families for generations.