RISE St James Comments to DEQ Regarding Protection of Enslaved Peoples’ Burial Grounds

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

December 18, 2019

Current Status 

Public comments to the Louisiana Division of Archeology were submitted on December 18, 2019. Letters stubmitted to St. James Parish Council on December 23, 2019.

Client(s) 

RISE St. James

Case Description 

RISE St. James, a faith-based grass-roots community group, submitted public comments to the Louisiana Division of Archeology for records concerning burial grounds on the site proposed for Formosa Plastics, a facility that would be the largest plastics manufacturer in North America.

The project is awaiting approval by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). Approving the project would violate the rights of local people to preserve their cultural origins, which are guaranteed by the Louisiana Constitution. RISE St James calls on the LDEQ not to issue these permits, and urges the Governor to halt this project. 

Despite RISE St. James’s consistent public engagement on this issue, no Formosa or State authorities informed them of the situation in the more than 12 months they have known that the company intends to build its plastics facility on the burial grounds of enslaved people. 

Emails obtained through a public records request sent by RISE St. James revealed conversations between representatives of Formosa Plastics and the Louisiana Division of Archeology. These emails show that Division of Archeology officials directed Formosa Plastics to investigate the site twice after an original survey that Formosa Plastics undertook, and each time more graves were found. The emails also revealed that Formosa representatives have considered the possibility of removing remains if they are found on certain portions of the property because preserving them as they are would be what the company called a “difficult option” for them.

Case Timeline

December 23, 2019
CCR and EarthJustice submit letters to St. James Parish Council on behalf of RISE St. James and Louisiana Bucket Brigade
December 23, 2019
CCR and EarthJustice submit letters to St. James Parish Council on behalf of RISE St. James and Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Letters submitted by RISE St. James on behalf of CCR and EarthJustice
December 18, 2019
CCR files comments on behalf of RISE St. James
December 18, 2019
CCR files comments on behalf of RISE St. James
On behalf of RISE St. James, CCR files comments with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, along with supporting attachments.