American Press: Mossville Resident Says Situation Overblown

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Kerry Rigmaiden calls Mossville home.

Scattered through his neighborhood are empty homes and lots, some with signs declaring it toxic, polluted and deadly. National and international experts have visited the area to study its pollution.

Rigmaiden doesn't think Mossville is worse off than any other city in the 
parish. He is waiting for concrete proof.

An environmental investigation by several state and federal environmental 
and health agencies began testing and researching the Mossville area, but 
plan to look at the parish as a whole. Blood tests found elevated levels of 
dioxin in residents blood, and tests show the presence of toxins in the 
Calcasieu Estuary.

In the next room, children play ping-pong while rain bounces steadily on the 
roof. Rigmaiden has coached Mossville children for 20 years. He says that 
they should be the focus of the community's concern.

When an environmental meeting is called in the community it is well 
attended, but Rigmaiden said the parking lots are bare for the kids' 
basketball and baseball games. The recreation center offers classes and 
camps during the summer. Program Director Betty Gasaway said the center 
keeps kids off the streets, and the crime rate low.

" In Mossville everybody knows everybody and everybody looks out for 
everybody," Gasaway said.

The close-knit community is what sets it apart from other areas in the 
parish, not pollution, Rigmaiden said. While he believes that contamination 
should be cleaned up, Rigmaiden said he thinks the community is sometimes 
used as a pawn for the parish's environmental problems.

" If you didn't know this community and you listened to all the reports you 
might think we all walk around with gas masks," Rigmaiden said. 
Members of Calcasieu Environmental Action Now and Mossville Environmental Action Now have repeatedly said that the environmental problems should be investigated parish-wide.

MEAN President Edgar Mouton was raised in Mossville, as was most of the small community. He believes the damage to the environment here has already been done, and has spread to the rest of the parish.

" I don't know why folks in Sulphur, Westlake, DeQuincy and the other 
communities aren't complaining," Mouton said.

He said that those in Mossville that could leave already have. Rigmaiden 
wants people to stop relocating. He built his house in the area eight years 
ago and plans to retire here.

" Let's just clean up the problems and move on," he said.

Liz Maples, American Press 

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