Synopses & Reviews
The Diamond neighborhood was an all-black enclave in the mostly white town of Norco, Louisiana, aptly named for the New Orleans Refining Co., an industrial processing plant. Margie Eugene Richard was raised in the shadow of a giant chemical plant operated by Shell, and witnessed her neighbors fall ill amid the toxic waste the plant emitted year after year. Her own sister, Naomi, eventually succumbed to a rare lung disease linked to environmental hazards.
Determined to see Shell take responsibility for its actions, Margie and her neighbors—largely poor and with few obvious resources—educated themselves not only on the consequences of environmental poison but also on how to fight back. The battle took them from Diamond's four streets all the way to The Hague and beyond. The unexpected results won Margie the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize and helped clean up a community. With riveting narrative drive, Night Fire illustrates how determination and grit can move even the most stubborn of corporate giants.
"This passionate book from a Miami Herald journalist demonstrates that humble grassroots activism can eventually unsettle a corporate Goliath. In 1958, Margie Richard was a pregnant 16-year-old, whose home had been displaced by a Shell oil refinery expansion and had recently resettled in Diamond, a tiny neighborhood in Norco, La. The neighborhood was poor, predominantly African-American and a stone's throw from another Shell chemical refinery. Two explosions at the refineries (one killed two residents) and the 1983 death of Richard's beloved sister from sarcoidosis, a lung ailment rooted in industrial pollution, propelled Richard into 15 years of activism, demanding that Shell recompense the neighborhood for decades of steady poisoning. Along with other residents, Richard formed the Norco Relocation Committee, determined to wrest realistic relocation funds from Shell, the international behemoth whose profits would eventually exceed $1.5 million per hour. After two court cases and almost 14 years, Shell capitulated in 2002. Greene's mix of vivid oral history and hard evidence is a rousing reminder that with stubborn determination, ordinary citizens can prevail against the most powerful of opponents." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Ronnie Greene is a prizewinning investigative journalist with The Miami Herald, where he has exposed exploitation of laborers in Florida's farm fields, corruption at Miami's airport, and deadly conditions in the U.S. air cargo industry. Greene teaches journalism at the University of Miami, and he lives in South Florida with his wife and two daughters. Night Fire is his first book.