Gay Hanks Interview

Gay Hanks started her environmental activism in Kaplan, Louisiana in 1978 after her young daughter Angelia was diagnosed with leukemia and doctors at St. Jude Hospital informed her that they were seeing too many young cancer patients from her area. After Angelia lost her battle with cancer, Gay an unlikely activist, armed with a sense of urgency, founded the Vermilion Association to Protect the Environment (VAPE) to address environmental issues in her parish. She was successful in closing down all of the oilfield waste sites (55 identified by DEQ) in Vermilion Parish and proved instrumental in placing three of the sites on the Superfund list. Gay also helped research and rewrite regulations governing oil and gas exploration and development, giving special attention to the safe disposal of oilfield waste in the state. In 2002, Gay relocated to Scott, Louisiana where she now resides. She is enjoying spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Audio interview with Gay Hanks for Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement by Peggy Frankland, conducted by Jennifer A. Cramer, Director of the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Copyright: Louisiana State University Special Collections.