Mary Ellender Interview

Mary Ellender began her journey as a spokesperson for the environmental movement in the early 1980s, when a chemical waste company located two miles from her home wanted to barge toxic waste through the Calcasieu Ship Channel to their facility. She organized her community and they were successful in defeating the company’s proposal. Mary was also instrumental in blocking the same company from building a commercial hazardous waste incinerator to burn PCBs. Through her continued leadership, two abandoned hazardous waste sites in Calcasieu Parish: Pit #1 and Pit #2 were ordered cleaned up, and fifteen homes located near the two pits being bought out and the citizens relocated. She also helped conduct a citizen-based study of the people living near the BFI/Willow Springs facility. Mary has served on many local and state environmental committees. Today, Mary is an interior designer working with her husband in his architectural firm. She recently retired as a board member of the Calcasieu Waterworks District in her community where she served for twenty five years. Audio interview with Mary Ellender 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.