In 1982, a toxic waste facility opened in the Piney Woods in Winona, Texas. The residents were told that the company would plant fruit trees on the land left over from its ostensible salt-water injection well. Soon after the plant opened, however, residents started noticing huge orange clouds rising from the facility and an increase in rates of cancer and birth defects in both humans and animals. The company dismissed their concerns, and confusion about what chemicals it accepted made investigations difficult.
Outraged by what she saw, Phyllis Glazer founded Mothers Organized to Stop Environmental Sins (MOSES) and worked tirelessly to publicize the problems in Winona. The story was featured in People, the Houston Chronicle magazine, and The Dallas Observer. The plant finally closed in 1998, citing the negative publicity generated by the group.
This book originated in 1994 when Cromer-Campbell was asked by Phyllis Glazer to produce a photograph for a poster about the campaign. She was so touched by the people in the town that she set out to document their stories. Using a plastic Holga camera, she created hauntingly distorted images that are both works of art and testaments to the damage inflicted on the people of a small Texas town by one company’s greed.
In the accompanying essays, Phyllis Glazer describes the history of Winona and the fight against the facility; Roy Flukinger discusses Cromer-Campbell's striking photographic technique; Eugene Hargrove explores issues of environmental justice; and Marvin Legator elaborates on how industry and government discourage victims of chemical exposure from seeking or obtaining relief.
“In the finest tradition of the best documentary photographers, Tammy Cromer-Campbell has fashioned a moving portrait of the lives destroyed in a small East Texas town by industrial pollution, and in so doing has helped remake the lives of some of its poorest citizens.”—Hank O’Neal, photographer
“The photographs and accompanying text are a powerful example of environmental rhetoric, one that highlights the importance of visual imagery and cultural activism in the struggle for environmental justice.”—John W. Delicath, U.S. Government Accountability Office