Breathless: Community presents health study to support claims - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Breathless: Community presents health study to support claims

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CROSSETT, AR. (KNOE 8 News) - A group in Arkansas is blaming their declining health on the town's largest employer.

"Here they call it the Crossett crud," says Cheryl Slavant.

It's a special name for that sick feeling that some in Crossett, Arkansas have been experiencing for years. Respiratory problems, difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, nausea, upset stomach, and headaches are what some call common symptoms, but Environmentalist Wilma Subra says are caused by pollution.

"Found a lot of hydrogen sulfide being released into the air," says Subra, "and people complain about rotten egg smell, and that's what it is."

Subra, along with Ouachita Riverkeeper Director Cheryl Slavant, is pointing the finger at Georgia Pacific in the center of town.

"In Arkansas, the water is much lighter, but when it gets to Georgia Pacific's discharge point, the color changes, and the river in Louisiana is an entirely different color, and it brings odors and chemicals with it," says Slavant.

She says this is no longer an issue just for those in Crossett, but everyone living along the Ouachita River.

"These people have lived here for a very long time, chronic exposure, and it correlates to the kinds of cancer we are seeing in the community," says Subra.

The riverkeepers, the environmentalist and the sick in Crossett are calling Georgia Pacific's emissions dangerous and claim the papermill is not playing by the rules.

"This is greed, apparently they can't get enough money, and if a few people die, that may sound extreme but people are dying," says Slavant.

Georgia Pacific questions how these health and environmental studies were conducted.

"There's no factual basis for those accusations," says Teresa Walsh, GP representative.

For every study these groups present, there are equally revealing studies that dispute the findings and support the long-time employer. Georgia Pacific responds to these claims, and a county health representative gives us a closer look at cancer rates in Crossett Thursday at 10pm, in the conclusion of "Breathless."

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