In Hazelton, Pa., a developer was given a permit to fill a contaminated and abandoned mine site with over 2 million tons of unstudied waste material. Starting in 2010, the Law Center represented Save Us From Future Environmental Risks (SUFFER), a community group of concerned Hazleton citizens fighting to protect the environmental health of their community.
Hunting Park, a low-income, largely minority neighborhood in North Philadelphia, has long been home to a disproportionate number of polluters. The Law Center first partnered with Hunting Park residents in 1986 when a company planned to open a facility to treat toxic wastes in the middle of the neighborhood. We provided legal and technical assistance, and we helped the community secure additional safeguards and citizen oversight of the facility’s emissions.
Since the 1970s, the predominantly minority community in Harrisburg, Pa., has housed the municipal incinerator that serves the entire largely white county around Harrisburg. The incinerator, closed in 2002, for years emitted dioxins at a rate 150 times higher than other incinerators in the state.
Like the City of Chester in Pennsylvania and many other low-income, minority communities, Camden, New Jersey contains a huge number of high-level polluters. The 90%-minority city is home to a regional incinerator, a regional sewage treatment plant, and multiple Superfund sites.
Beginning in 1978, the Law Center represented neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area threatened by pollution.
Chester, Pennsylvania is a small city with a low-income African American population, located in the affluent, mostly white Delaware County – and it is the site of an unprecedented cluster of industrial polluting facilities. Chester has been home to a trash incinerator that handled waste from the entire county, a sewage treatment plant that still receives the entire county’s sewage, and numerous other waste processing plants, oil refineries, and industrial polluters. Essentially, the low-income, black community of Chester has been forced to live amidst the waste of the more affluent, white towns and cities around it.
For many years, environmental risks in our workplaces and our communities were kept secret, often revealed only in cases of catastrophes that caused irreparable harm to workers or community members.
In the early 1970s, Pennsylvania’s smog problem was among the worst in the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a plan in response Pennsylvania to create plans to reduce pollution in and around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the most important element of which was the adoption of a motor vehicle emissions program that included mandatory inspections and maintenance. The state openly refused to implement the plan.