The Shell Norco Manufacturing Complex has been operating by the banks of the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana for almost a century. A sprawling set of oil refineries and petrochemical plants that dominate the landscape and pollute the air about 20 miles outside the city of New Orleans.
The complex has the capacity to refine 10.1m gallons of crude oil a day and can produce up to 3.33bn pounds of ethylene a year.
In 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused Shell of violating clean air laws for over a decade and reached a settlement with the corporate giant shortly after.
Since 2001 the Norco Civic Association, a community group heavily backed by Shell, has run a Christmas parade that winds through the industrial complex, which sits on the site of old sugarcane fields in the heart of a region known as “Cancer Alley” due to its high levels of industrial pollution.
Photographer Julie Dermansky has been photographing this Christmas Parade for the past four years. To her, “this scene illustrates the disconnect humankind has with the damage they are doing to the environment.”
The Civic Association says the parade promotes “unity in the community”.
These are some of her images from the surreal scenery.
Beauty queen in a convertible riding in Norco’s annual Christmas Parade in Norco Louisiana on 6 December 2015. The parade’s theme for 2015 was ‘Santa 4 President’.
Marching band in Norco’s 2014 Annual Christmas Parade on 7 December. The parade’s theme was ‘Norco Noel: Santa Salutes Our Military’.
Dancer group marching down Apple Street participating in Norco’s annual Christmas Parade in Norco on 6 December 2015. The parade’s theme was ‘Santa 4 President’.
Girls pose for a group photo on the levee in Norco before the start of the 2019 Norco Annual Christmas parade.
The Vickers family posing after the 2018 Christmas Parade in Norco.
People lining Apple Street in Norco during Norco’s annual Christmas Parade in 2015.
Floats at the Christmas Parade in Norco, Louisiana, pass by the Shell Manufacturing Complex that has refining and chemicals facilities. The 2018 theme (shown on the right) was ‘Santa Supports Local Sports’.
Horse rider in Norco’s 2014 Annual Christmas Parade.
Girls playing football on the levee in Norco, Louisiana, before the start of the 2019 Norco Civic Association Christmas Parade. Shell’s petrochemical Norco complex looms in the background.