When Warren Lawrence retired, he settled on Myrtle Grove, a small community of brightly colored houses sitting on stilts, 40 miles south of New Orleans, because it’s surrounded by water. The Mississippi River is on one side of Route 23, the main road, and the bayou is on the other. Lawrence’s boats are tied up out back, and he takes his small dogs on a ride through the swampland nearly every day.
He loves his way of life, he said. Except for the dusting.
On a clear, windy day, from the porch of his house Lawrence can see a cloud of black dust hanging over Kinder Morgan’s coal terminal two miles away. Lawrence — and everyone else who lives near that terminal, where up to 4 million tons of coal are exported each year — knows the cloud means a cleaning will soon be in order.
Coal coats the railings of Lawrence’s porch, the shutters on each window, the utility sink in his backyard and the bottom of his pool.
Every couple of days, he can swipe his finger on nearly any part of his house and find dust.
“You wash the deck off and just see black floating off,” he said. “Is that healthy for you?”
Now he fears the problem is about to get much worse.