Cancer Alley: Koch profile


Koch Industries is a family-owned chemical and manufacturing company based in Wichita, Kansas. It is named after the founder who invented an efficient way to turn crude oil into gasoline and other products in the 1920s. Today it is one of the largest producers of nylon and polyester fabrics, a business that it acquired from Dupont and ICI. It also owns Georgia-Pacific, one of the world's largest producer of pulp and paper products. Koch Industries is projected to make a major profit off the Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the U.S. from land leases for fracking as well as other petrochemical interests.

Koch Industries Methanol Chemical Plant in St James, Louisiana, in 'Cancer Alley' - Photographer Julie Dermansky
Koch Methanol, St. James, Louisiana © Julie Dermansky

The Koch family is one of the most significant funders of right-wing causes in the U.S. via groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity, the Freedom Fund and the John Birch Society, notably climate change denial and killing public transit systems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Koch $30 million in 2000, the largest civil penalty on a company at the time, for over 300 oil spills from company pipelines in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas including a 12­ mile-long oil slick off the coast of Texas. The same year, a U.S. jury charged Koch Industries with 97 environmental crimes over benzene emissions from the West Plant in Corpus Christi, Texas.

(See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Enforcement and Compliance History Online for Koch Methanol's plant in St. James. Note that auto-display of data from this link may be disabled for some browsers. If so, copy the URL manually into a new browser window to see it.)

An explosion at a Koch fertilizer facility in Missouri killed one worker in 1994 and an explosion at a Koch pipeline in Texas in 1996 killed two teenagers. Seven employees have been killed by or died from injuries at Georgia-Pacific since Koch Industries bought the company in 2005.

Koch backed bill passes benefiting polluters PHOTO Richard Hurd
Photo: Richard Hurd

To learn more about Koch Industries, see the CorpWatch Gulliver profile here. A complete list of CorpWatch's Cancer Alley profiles may be accessed here.

Quick Facts: Koch Industries

  • Headquarters: Wichita, Kansas
  • Major Shareholders: Privately held
  • Products: Fossil fuels and chemicals
  • 2021 revenue: $115 billion
  • 2021 profits: Not published
  • Total U.S. penalties:$928,731,854  (2000-2020 data from Violation Tracker)

Environmental justice indicators within a one mile radius of Koch Methanol's plant in St. Jamest (US EPA, 2022)

  • People of color in 1 mile proximity of plant: 84 percent
  • Poverty rate in 1 mile proximity of plant: 50 percent
  • Air quality: 93 µg of PM2.5 fine particulate matter/m3 (U.S. national standard: 12µg/m3)
  • Cancer risk from air toxics per million people: 98 (U.S. national standard: 1/million, actual average: 30/million)


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