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Learning Skills Center

Cuyamaca College

The essay: a sample for an argumentative (persuasion) essay

This essay tries to persuade citizens of Posey County to oppose the building of a coke-processing plant. The essay
is reduced in size; an actual essay would have more material and longer paragraphs. The content does not
acknowledge arguments from the opposition, but is a rebuttal to the process that has allowed the plant to gain
preliminary approval. The essay, like many papers, has three parts. The introduction starts with startling facts about
the increased chances of residents getting lung cancer. The thesis statement, beginning with "Citizens concerned
about their health" is a call to action. The body of the essay offers detailed facts about dangerous particulates,
damaging effects from pollution, and economic side effects of the plant. The conclusion is a brief summary and a
forceful final sentence that suggests using politics to stop the plant. Note the topic sentences that begin each body
paragraph and the facts that support the topic sentences. (The following sample of an essay has been adapted for
instructional purposes by Dennis Buskirk from Webster's New World Student Writing Handbook, Fourth Edition, by
Sharon Sorenson, IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 1997, pp. 154-156.)
The New Coke Processing Plant: Your Health is in Danger
If you plan on working in the new coke processing plant being built at the edge of town, you might want to
check your health insurance policy. The reason: your chance of getting lung cancer could be up to ten times that of
the average worker elsewhere. And what if you don't work there, but just live nearby? You still won't escape
because you will have a higher chance of getting lung cancer than if you lived in another area. Fir River
Resources, Inc. already has preliminary approval to build a coke processing plant just 3 1/2 miles southwest of our
town. Before you allow this to happen, there may be something you should consider. If the proposed plant is built,
Posey County, as well as all neighboring counties, will likely see an increased rate of death by lung cancer caused
by the plant's pollutants. Citizens concerned about their health and the health of their families will want to learn
more about these pollutants and oppose the construction of this plant.
Scientists have studied the chemicals used in coke-processing plants and have found them to be
dangerous to human beings. They believe that two chemical compounds, called initiators and promoters, work
together to cause cancer. The coking plant being built will emit benzo(a)prene, an initiator. The phenol plant,
located near the coke-processing plant emits phenolics, which are promoters. The combination may lead to
significant increases in cancer among local residents. In two independent studies in the U.S., coke oven workers
exhibited a lung cancer rate 2 1/2 to 10 times greater than that in other workers. In another study in southern Ohio,
several counties near these plants showed high death rates from cancer of the large intestines, liver and bladder.
Finally, particulate emissions from coke plants have been found to be 500 times more cancer causing than the
particulates in cigarette smoke.
If the coke processing plant is built, we can also expect other types of effects. For instance, we can expect
to see a rise in mutations of babies. Some could die of serious malformations; others will live, perhaps a worse
fate. Emissions from coking plants interfere with the development of DNA, the biological compound that makes us
all different, and that interference causes mutations. In addition, we might expect to see significant crop damage.
Although Fir River says the plant will cause no damage to crops, the plant's nine smokestacks will emit 30,000
pounds of sulfur dioxide per day, which is 5,700 tons per year. Another damaging effect will be water pollution:
coal-pile run-off produces pollutants that will flow into the Ohio River. Finally, the plant will ship in 750,000 tons of
coal annually, but ships out only 540,000 tons of coke. This leaves over 1 million pounds of waste per day in Posey
Finally, the pollutants could cause Posey County to become economically stagnant. Although the plant will
provide 70 more jobs, it will consume 87 percent of the county's pollution increment for sulfur dioxide. Because it
may lead to a violation of the National Ambient Air Standard for Particulates, this could severely hamper further
industrial expansion. Mead Johnson, which recently announced plans for a major new warehouse in anticipation of
a major manufacturing expansion, could be prevented from moving into the area. SIGECO, responsible for
providing the tri-state area with power, may be unable to pursue plans to expand. In the future, as our county's
population increases, one of two things will happen: either unemployment will increase, or residents will be forced
to leave the county to seek work elsewhere.
Whether your concern is for your personal health, your children's future, the economic future of the
community, or the future of the world's environment, you cannot afford to ignore this proposed coke-processing
plant. Becoming involved now could make the difference in the quality of life for residents for many years to come.
Your influence will help. Contact your local county supervisors and express your concern. We must fight politics in
the political waywith the force of the multitudes.