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Annotated Bibliography

Stephanie Jamieson

3rd Year Law Student
The University of Dayton School of Law
Fall 1998



This annotated bibliography explores the on going debate about whether or not environmental racism actually exists concerning hazardous waste facilities. Environmental racism is a broad topic so, this bibliography will focus specifically on the existence of racist tactics in the locating and placing of waste sites in communities with a high percentage of people of color. This bibliography will explore researchers, commentaries, and cases that argue for and against the existence of environmental racism in the placing of waste sites in minority communities. 

Researchers have argued for and against the existence of environmental racism does and does not exist. Both sides have compelling arguments and data to back up their conclusions. However, anyone who looks at the data in an unbiased manner will see a lot of strong data to support the assertion that environmental racism does exist when it comes to the siting and placing of waste sites in predominately minority communities. 

Those who argue for the existence of environmental racism look to statistics that show toxic sites are disproportionately located in predominately minority communities. Also, researchers look to the impact that these sites have had on these communities. There is data to show the disproportionate number of communities of color that are hosts to hazardous waste sites in comparison to predominately White communities. Medical research also shows the high rate of illness that people in the host communities are experiencing. Hazardous waste sites are targeting minority communities at an alarming rate. However, some people do not believe in the effectiveness of the data that exists to prove environmental racism. 

On the other side of the coin, people argue that environmental racism does not exist. They argue that the selection process those waste facilities use are not intentionally discriminatory. Researchers have stated that many times facility operators are looking for cheap land to host their waste and that targeting the poor for this action is not unconstitutional. The argument then says that most minorities are poor. So once the researchers have targeted the cheap land (no matter the race of the residents) they purchase the land and erect hazardous waste sites. Therefore, according to that theory, since many minorities reside on cheap land, they are normally the hosts of such sites. So, it is only natural that it would appear that minority communities are disproportionately being targeted as waste sites. 

People often look to the law for refuge but until this point in time federal statutes such as Title VI and the Equal Protection Clause have not been very helpful. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on what it is looking for a plaintiff to prove when it comes to environmental racism. The most effective legislative route has been through Administrative Agency laws. Citizens who have brought discrimination suits against waste facilities have received more favorable judgments than when they tried to bring their case before a court. However, it should be noted that Environmental agencies sometimes engage in discriminatory practices when it comes to enforcing their own procedures. Statistics have shown that minority communities usually take longer to get on the list for cleanups. Also, when it comes to fining companies for illegally dumping waste in minority communities, the fines are usually a mere fraction of what the fine would be for dumping waste in a White community. 

There is a theory to explain why many minority communities, which are not poor, are still disproportionally targeted for building hazardous waste sites. The Market Theory blames real estate agents for the high rate of minorities in toxic site areas. The theory advances the argument that real estate agents are practicing discriminatory methods in

The following articles are included in this bibliography:
Diane Schwartz, Environmental Racism: Using Legal and Social Means to Achieve Environmental Justice

Dominique R. Shelton, Esq., The Prevalent Exposure of Low Income and Minority Communities to Hazardous Materials: The Problem and How to Fix It

Terence J. Centner, Warren Kriesel, and Andrew G. Keeler, Environmental Justice and Toxic Releases: Establishing Evidence of Discriminatory Effect Based on Race and Not  Income

Rachel D. Gosdsil, Remedying Environmental Racism

Michele L. Knorr, Environmental Injustice: Inequities Between Empirical Data and Federal State Legislative and Judicial Responses

Natalie M. Hammer, Title VI as a Means of Achieving Environmental Justice

Laura Westra, ed. and Peters S. Wenz, Faces of Environmental Racism: Conformity Issues of Global Justice

42 U.S.C.A. ss2000d

J. Tom Boer, Manuel Pastor, Jr., James L. Sadd, and Lori D. Snyder, Is There Environmental Racism? The Demographics of Hazardous Waste in Los Angeles County

Lynn E. Blais, Environmental Racism Reconsidered

David Bender et al., At Issue: Environmental Justice, Market Forces, Not Racist Practices, May Affect the Siting of Locally Undesirable Land Uses, Chapter 3, (Vicki Been)

Nelson Smith and David Graham, Environmental Justice and Underlying Societal Problems

Daniel C. Wigley and Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Racism and Biased Methods of Risk Assessment

Rozelia S. Park, An Examination of International Environmental Racism Through the Lens of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes

Sheila Foster, Justice From the Ground Up: Distributive Inequities, Grassroots Resistance, and the Transformative Politics of the Environmental Justice Movement

Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL), Environmental Racism in Chester

Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living v. Seif

Seif v. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living

Edward Patrick Boyle, It's Not Easy Bein' Green: The Psychology of Racism Environmental Discrimination, and the Argument for Modernizing Equal Protection Analysis

CNN, After Neighbors' 4-Year Fight, L.A. Waste Plant Agrees to Move

Online Focus, Environmental Racism?

CNN Earth, Neighborhood Finally Moving Away From Mount Dioxin

Adeline Gordon Levine, Love Canal: Science, Politics, and People

Stephanie Jamieson is a third-year law student at the University of Dayton School of Law in Dayton, Ohio. She graduated cum laude in 1996 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia with a B.A. degree in Sociology.


Diane Schwartz, Environmental Racism: Using Legal and Social Means to Achieve Environmental Justice, 12 J. Envtl. L. & Litig. 409 (1997). 

This article glances at present and past social methods of achieving environmental justice. In 1970, Earth Day failed to address how environmental harm was disproportionately affecting communities of color in America.(1) Nonetheless, we should give the earlier efforts for achieving environmental protections credit because they were effective. However, they were so effective that they resulted in the shifting of waste sites from White communities to communities of color. 

Studies have supported the conclusion that race plays a big role in the location of hazardous facilities. The government further compounds the problem by its disproportionate enforcement of the law. Agency penalties for violation of the hazardous waste laws are 500% higher in predominately White communities than in communities with a high percentage of people of color.(2)

When it comes to using federal law to bring environmental justice claims, the author asserts that showing discriminatory intent under the Equal Protection Clause is a high hurdle for people to jump. I agree that showing a discriminatory impact versus trying to show what people are thinking when deciding for placement of waste sites is easier. Litigation in itself has disadvantages because it requires a significant amount of resources and time. Instead, the author believes that the administrative process is simpler because it is less expensive and may produce greater results to communities asserting environmental injustice claims. One suggested alternative to federal legislation is enacting city ordinances. States that have enacted local administrative agencies have made great strides in regulating environmental injustice.(3) I believe local regulation would be more effective be more effective because the city is not as far removed from the situation as the federal government. Also, having local rules lets people in the community know that their local government is hearing and addressing their concerns. Lastly, it gives people an alternative place to go to seek relief for their environmental problems.

Dominique R. Shelton, Esq., The Prevalent Exposure of Low Income and Minority Communities to Hazardous Materials: The Problem and How to Fix It, 32 Beverly Hills B.A. J. 1 (Summer/Fall 1997). 

This article begins in a very interesting manner. The author first explains to the reader what constitutes "Hazardous Material." Hazardous material can come in many forms. Approximately 96% of all hazardous waste comes in liquid form.(4) Waste primarily solid in nature comprises about 4% of all hazardous waste.(5) The reader is then engaged in detail about health risks that hazardous wastes pose. An interesting observation made by the author is that although the Clean Air, Clean Water Act was established to ensure "safe" emission standards, these "standards" do not really protect human health. In fact these "standards" fail to consider the cumulative impact on a community that may have many hazardous waste sites in the same vicinity. 

Minorities face a greater risk of being exposed to hazardous waste because these sites are more prevalent in their community. The United Church of Christ's Commission study found that three out of the five largest commercial waste landfills (in America) were found in predominately Latino or African American communities.(6)

Under, the Environmental Protection Agency, there exists something called "The National Priority List" (NPL). Only sites that require long term remedial action are placed on this list and are ranked for cleanups. In 1992, a study conducted on the NPL found that: 1. It takes minority communities (with serious hazardous waste problems) 20% longer to get onto the list versus abandoned sites found in predominately White community; 2. Once on the list, it takes up to 42% longer to cleanup minority community than it does primarily White neighborhoods; and 3. When they finally schedule minority sites for a cleanup, the EPA is more likely to choose less costly and effective methods than it would use in predominately White communities.(7)

Despite all of the data, research, and findings, communities that have sued companies and governmental agencies (alleging disproportionate siting of hazardous material release sites in minority communities and violating equal protection laws), have been unsuccessful. For the most part courts have ruled that the plaintiffs lacked direct evidence of discriminatory intent. Noting this lack of success in the courts, the author suggests looking to several environmental Acts that can be used to protect communities. This article was very informative. The author stated the problem and looked for ways to solve the problem. 

Terence J. Centner, Warren Kriesel, and Andrew G. Keeler, Environmental Justice and Toxic Releases: Establishing Evidence of Discriminatory Effect Based on Race and Not Income, 3 Wis. Envtl. L.J. 119 (Summer 1996)

This article looks at and reviews cases, literature, and studies used to prove or disprove the existence of environmental racism regarding toxic waste sites. The article notes that environmental justice literatures often state that disproportionate placing of waste sites are closely linked to people of color and the poor. The author believes that policy makers need to consider this disproportionate exposure rate when making and passing laws so that they do not have a discriminatory effect. Studies have shown that minorities tend to receive less than equal treatment when it comes to enforcing environmental laws. 

The author attributes the lack of participation of minorities in environmental interest groups as a reason for their issues receiving little attention. I believe that type of broad statement fails to take into account the many minority environmental groups that fight for their communities with little or not avail. The author then lists the three most common legal methods to seek relief for racism by governmental entities. The three methods are: 1. Equal protection Clause; 2. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and 3. Various regulation of the Title VI.(8)

Under the Equal Protection Clause the majority of cases dealing with disproportionate impact of waste sites in minority communities have been unsuccessful. Under Title VI the author commented on the trend of recent lower courts noting the disparate impact on racial minorities. However, without additional regulation, these courts have found that these disparate impacts have not affected Title VI. Then, under Title VI Regulations, liability can be found without evidence of a subjective intent to discriminate. That is usually considered the last but the most effective method of combating federally funded agencies. This is because racist programs and activities may violate the federal regulations of Title VI even thought they do not violate Title VI itself or the Equal Protection Clause. 

There are four major problems with jumping the hurdle to prove discriminatory practices in placing waste sites. First is evidence set forth to supporting discriminatory waste sites may be disproportionate in exposure data. Second, location factors and market dynamics, including the economics of the neighborhood sometimes suggest a stronger correlation to waste site location versus race. Third, as for proof of disparate impact on minorities, correlation analysis used often lack statistical proof to support a finding of disparate impact. Lastly, some study reports had limited observations that are usually statistically meaningless.(9) In summary this article focused on identifying the problem and the set out to rectify the problem. However, the author took time to note that the "popular" ways of trying to solve the problems are not always very effective. The article also explains why those methods are not always productive. This article is a good road map for people who wish to fight environmental racism and want to know the most effective and least effective methods. 

Rachel D. Gosdsil, Remedying Environmental Racism, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 394 (November 1991)

This article attributes race and socio-economic factors as reasons for the high amount of minority communities being home for waste sites. Three of every five Blacks and Hispanics live in communities with toxic waste sites nearby.(10) The author attributes segregated housing as one of the reasons for Blacks being disproportionately overburdened by environmental risks. The author also states that the socio-economics of a neighborhood play a role in the disproportionate amount of Blacks living by toxic sites. Many Whites are less likely to buy homes in areas with as little as 20% of a Black population.(11) Decreased value in lands and lack of political power are sited as further reason for the disproportionate siting in predominately minority areas. As early as 1965, Congress became aware that improper waste disposal created serious problems to the public health.(12) But it was not until 1976 that hazardous waste disposals began to be regulated.(13) Up until that point, it was a virtual free-for-all when it came to duping waste. 

States are trying to remedy this problem with the enacting of environmental statutes that pertain to disposal of wastes. There have also been suggestions to financially compensate host communities of toxic waste sites.(14) The concept behind this proposal is that local opposition would be eliminated (or at least drastically decreased) by this financial offer. Also, communities would be compensated for the cost of the facilities since the state as a whole enjoys the benefits of the waste facilities. This is a nice idea for the present. However, this plan seems to suggest that money is more important to people than their personal health and the health of their children. It suggests that if someone was given the right amount of money, he/she would be more willing to have waste sites erected by his/her home. I do not believe that to be a true concept for the majority of the people living in these situations. 

Minorities who are overburdened with toxic facilities in their neighborhood will find it difficult to get judicial remedy under the Equal Protection Clause. The one key remedy that the author believes will work to deal with his problem are Grass Roots Involvement. More minority communities are demanding political accountability on environmental risk issues. Black and Hispanic people are protesting, marching, taking an active stand against waste site facilities in their neighborhood. When it comes to fighting environmental racism, public protesting the acquisition of political power should also be added to the pot. Also, local politicians should be held accountable the his/her constituents who put him/her in office. 

Michele L. Knorr, Environmental Injustice: Inequities Between Empirical Data and Federal State Legislative and Judicial Responses, 6 U. Balt. J. Envtl. L. 71 (Fall 1997). 

"Millions of people in minority and low-income communities are subjected to greater levels of pollution than Caucasian and wealthy populations because of their race or socio-economic status."(15) Critics against the concept of environmental racism often blame the disproportionate amount of waste sites in minority communities on lack of minority organizations to oppose the waste sites. However, this article traces the history of the formation of minority environmental group. 

In 1989, minorities began banning together and forming groups to combat environmental justice. (16) The environmental movement (by minorities) did not really gain momentum until the early 1990s.(17) These groups got together shortly after studies conducted in 1983 and 1987 showed the disparity between the number of waste sites in minority neighborhoods and White neighborhoods.(18) It is noted that 57% of Whites, 65% of Blacks, and 80% of all Latinos live in areas with substandard air quality.(19) In fairness, the author discusses evidence for and against to existence of environmental injustice. Along with showing both sides of the coin with evidence, the author also addresses the pros and cons of remedies (statutes, acts) that have been established to deal with or prevent environmental discrimination/racism. The author felt that evidence is clear to show that minority and low income communities are disproportionately subjected to environmental health risks and local undesired land use. Lastly, the author concludes that since the existing legislature and government agencies are not very successful, then new legislation is needed. I believe that the legislation that we have now is fine. The problem comes in the lack of properly enforcing the laws. It makes no sense to create new laws if they will be enforced in a discriminatory manner. 

Natalie M. Hammer, Title VI as a Means of Achieving Environmental Justice, 16 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 693 (Summer 1996).

The opening of this article truly grabs your attention. The author opens by describing a housing project in Chicago in which most of its 6,000 residents are Black.(20) This housing project is surrounded in a 140-square mile ring made up of a chemical incinerator, a water and sewage treatment facility, steel mills, paint factories, scrap yards, and at least 52 landfills. (21) The residents call the ring a "toxic doughnut."(22) This introduction set the tone for the rest of the article. Unwanted hazardous wastes are usually placed in poor and minority communities that tend to give the least amount of resistence. Based on various studies the author concludes that environmental racism exists.(23) Believing that environmental racism exists is not enough for the courts. It must be shown actually to exist. 

This article examines the historical attempts to combat environmental racism. The author starts with common law claims. People have tried to base a claim on property rights in a nuisance action but courts usually reject it because of the lack of direct data concerning the health effects of pollution.(24) Instead, the author suggests using environmental statutes as an avenue to achieving environmental justice. Also, many minorities have sued under the Equal Protection Clause. However, that is not the most effective route because proving discriminatory intent is not easy. An alternative route, when filing a claim with the court is to bring a claim under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The author notes that this route has not been very effective either. The Supreme Court has held that to show a violation of Title VI, there must be a showing of unjustified disparate impact.(25) In order to show an unjustified disparate impact under Title VI, a plaintiff must show a discriminatory effect from the action/s of the defendant.(26) The Supreme Court has yet to rule to what extent is the plaintiff's burden of proof.(27) Therefore, suits under Title VI for environmental racism, dealing specifically with the disproportionate amount of toxic waste sites in minority communities, have not been very successful. A final route that the article suggests is the administrative route. The author believes it to be a more advantageous method of arguing under Title VI and receiving more success rather than going to court. This article was full of incites. It provided a lot of essential information about what are the best and most effective routes to take when attacking environmental racism.

Laura Westra, ed. and Peters S. Wenz, Faces of Environmental Racism: Conformity Issues of Global Justice, Environmental Justice, Chapter 2-3, 1995. 

Prior to 1990, environmental justice was not a priority in the United States.(28) The EPA has known for several years that a large portion of toxic sites are located in residential areas that have a high rate of African - American and Latino residents.(29) It has been noted that many times people seems to care less about toxic sites in African - American and Latino communities because of the race of the people. Some environmentalists do not consider themselves racist. They are concerned with local issues for example, a river being polluted, global warming, etc. But they show little concern about the wide scale impact of toxic sites upon minority communities and health risks that are posed to people. It appears that if these landfills began building near to homes to baby seals, then environmentalists would be out there fighting. However, when it comes to minorities. . . humans, many environmentalists do not deem this fight worthy enough. 

42 U.S.C.A. ss2000d

Several claims alleging environmental racism in the siting of hazardous waste sites are bought under this statute. This statute says that no one in the United States, based on race, color, or national origin, shall be subject to discrimination under any federally fended or assisted program. 

J. Tom Boer, Manuel Pastor, Jr., James L. Sadd, and Lori D. Snyder, Is There Environmental Racism? The Demographics of Hazardous Waste in Los Angeles County,, (last visited Dec. 3, 1998)

This research paper focuses on the issue of environmental racism. It looks at environmental racism in the form of toxic waste sites in minority areas. The researcher limited their study to hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) in Los Angeles County, California. This location was analyzed by using both univariate and multivariate techniques. The researchers found that: 1. Industrial land use and manufacturing matter; 2. Income has an effect on TSDF location, poorer communities have more TSDFs versus wealthier communities (with more political power to resist TSDFs); and 3. Race and ethnicity are significantly associated with TSDF locations -Black and Latino communities have the highest rates of TSDFS.(30) Overall, this study found that communities most likely to be affected by TSDFs are industrial areas that have a large concentration of working class people of color. I felt that this research was very helpful in noting the roles economics, political power, and race plays in the location of TSDFs. The univariate and multianalysis were explained in great detail. Although this study was focused on one specific area, it did capture the essence of what is a national problem. Also, the researchers acknowledge that the history of the erection of the TSDFs in these communities was not done. However, it does not change their findings about the disproportionate amounts of TSDFs in Black and Latino communities versus White communities.

Lynn E. Blais, Environmental Racism Reconsidered, 75 N.C. L. Rev. 75 (November 1996). 

This article takes a critical look at research and researchers who state the environmental racism exists when it comes to selection of sites for waste facilities. The author states that many people argue that the distribution of waste sites and land use are "unfair" but they fail to state why the current practice is considered unfair. The author even hesitated to acknowledge that the current distribution practice is unfair. I cannot understand how the author or anyone else could look at all of the available data and fail to see that the distribution of waste facilities in communities of color versus White communities is unfair. 

The author comments that residents of communities of toxic sites could move out of the neighborhood but they choose to stay. Why should people (especially those who cannot afford to) move every time they are threatened by the erection of a waste site? That would basically allow waste facilities to bully people out of their homes, out of their communities, and out of the lives they had made for themselves and their children. 

This author is another supporter of Been's discrimination market theory.(31) Under the market theory, real estate agents are blamed for directing people of color to buy homes in communities with high amounts of toxic facilities. This article shifts the blame from the waste facilities onto real estate agents and to victims of hazardous waste sites in their communities. Waste facilities should be the first ones to receive blame due to their selection process. Then next on the list to receive blame equally are real estate agents who direct people of color to those communities to buy those homes and governmental agencies who do not play a big enough role in ensuring equal enforcement of environmental regulations. 

David Bender et al., At Issue: Environmental Justice, Market Forces, Not Racist Practices, May Affect the Siting of Locally Undesirable Land Uses, Chapter 3, (Vicki Been) 1995.

The author feels that housing marketing strategies are the reason for the disproportionate amount of landfills in minority neighborhoods and not racism. Researchers who believe racism ha an impact in the selection of waste sites are criticized by this chapter. The authors stated that the researchers fail to take into account the fact that waste sites are chosen and the neighborhoods begin to deteriorate because of the location of the site. With the deterioration of the neighborhood, the land goes down in value and he people who purchase it happen to be (the majority of times) minorities and/or poor.(32) Those who can afford better tend to move out. The author also notes that African-Americans are usually shown houses in these lower valued neighborhoods by real estate agents. Due to African-American families purchasing these homes, then there is an increase in the amount of minorities in toxic waste communities of all socio-economic levels. This argument sounds somewhat plausible but it also sounds like an inordinate amount of blame is being placed on real estate agents. 

Overall, this chapter solely blames the housing market for surrounding people of color around toxic sites. Meanwhile, other researchers have noted that toxic waste sites usually surround minority communities and not the other way around as the author posed. Not to mention that many toxic facilities are and were established after people of color were living there. Many researchers have found that minority and the poor communities are targeted for the dumping of hazardous waste. The author of this chapter stated that citing neighborhoods based on their poverty level is not unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has not declared the poor a suspect class.(33)This chapter seems to suggest that more people of color are poor so if selection is done by economics than it is natural that more toxic sites would be in minority communities versus White communities. The author comments that many studies also fail mention who are what came first C people of color, the poor, or toxic sites. And the author of this chapter failed to mention why the toxic waste cleanup of minority communities take longer than White communities and whether or not that has to do with economics or good old fashion racism.


Nelson Smith and David Graham, Environmental Justice and Underlying Societal Problems, 27 Envtl. L. Rep. 10568 (November 1997). 

This article addresses reports that state race as the main factor in selection of placement for waste disposal sites in urban areas. The author supports a view that economics, more than race, plays a role in the location of waste sites in minority communities. The author also suggests it that by raising the value of land by developing then the urban communities would improve. The article further states that the communities could be improved by trying to get businesses to move into the communities, hire people, and encourage the middle class to return to the urban communities.(34)

The author was very concerned about not driving big business away. This article seemed to gloss over the fact that there is a disproportionately high rate of toxic waste sites in minority communities. Instead, the author seems to reverse the situation and blame poor communities for waste sites being erected in their neighborhoods. I do agree with the author's view about steps that re needed to improve poor urban communities. However, I disagree with the author's downplaying of "pollution" caused by factories and their very real health effects on poor minority communities.

Daniel C. Wigley and Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Racism and Biased Methods of Risk Assessment, 7 Risk: Health Safety & Env't 5 (Winter 1996) 

The authors of this article seem to propose that environmental racism does not really exist when it comes to the selection and dumping of toxic waste in predominantly minority communities. Instead, they suggest that toxic waste facilities end up in predominately minority communities due to certain circumstances. The article states that minorities are statistically more likely to be economically and politically disadvantaged. Being that most waste sites lower the value of neighborhoods, then usually people who are poor and have very little political power ends up in these neighborhoods.(35)Nonetheless, the authors do acknowledge that there is evidence of racial bias when it comes to environmental decision making. 

The authors believe racial bias comes into play when the facilities fail to find alternative means to dispose of their waste and fail to give adequate justification for eliminating potential alternative sites in more affluent and White areas. When it comes to assessing the risks that the waste sites have on minorities communities, facilities looking for new waste sites tend severely downplay the negative findings. I found that to be very important because so many facilities fail to adequately document the actual harm that these waste sites cause to the health of society and in minority communities. Often, researchers arguing on behalf of the facilities fail to note the tremendous health risks that are being imposed on minorities in these communities. It was pleasing to see that this article addressed that issue.

Rozelia S. Park, An Examination of International Environmental Racism Through the Lens of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, 5 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 659 (Spring 1998) 

This note examined international charges of environmental racism by domestically looking at environmental racism theories and then applying them to the international movement of toxic wastes from developed to developing countries. Four underlying factors, related to race, that play a role in the domestic location of hazardous waste facilities are: 1. Availability of inexpensive land; 2. Lack of opposition of location of facilities due to lack of political power and resources; 3. Lack of mobility from poverty and housing discrimination; and 4. Poverty.(36) These factors also play a role in the shipping of hazardous wastes to developing (third world) countries. People have argued that the shipping of hazardous waste to a Third World (Africa) is simply the continuation of a racist policy of the United States C selecting communities of color as dumping grounds for hazardous waste. 

There is a parallel as to the findings of traits of American communities that house toxic sites and a Third World nation such as Africa. Africa does have cheap land available; in certain areas there is lack of opposition due to lack of political power; there is lack of mobility for poor groups and a segregated style of housing; and poverty does exist in many parts. It should also be noted that the group that usually tends to suffer from these racist practices in Africa are Blacks and I do not believe that this is solely because they are the majority. 

Africa has taken action through the Basel and Bamako Conventions.(37) These conventions asserted the rights of Africans to have clean air and moved to enforce stricter regulations against the illegal dumping of hazardous waste onto their continent. The author asserts that, domestically, if communities of color could identify some right then they would have more control over the kinds of pollutants that entered their communities. I do not believe that it is that simple. Many minority organizations have gotten together and voiced their concerns in court and to federal agencies with little of no gain.

Sheila Foster, Justice From the Ground Up: Distributive Inequities, Grassroots Resistance, and the Transformative Politics of the Environmental Justice Movement, 86 Calif. L. Rev. 775 (July 1998) 

This article focused on examining the environmental justice movement from the perspective of the predominately poor and African-American residents of Chester, Pennsylvania. The residents of Chester tried to stop the continuos influx of hazardous waste facilities into their community. Researchers often site the creation of jobs as a valid justification for the erection of the waste sites. However, in Chester the waste facilities that had promised jobs instead brought several forms of pollution. Chester is still suffering from the effects of pollution till this day. Their success in fighting the many waste facilities that surround their community has been small. 

Also, this article tries to answer one key question that many researchers (on both sides of the coin) always ask, "who came first, the predominately minority communities or the hazardous waste facilities?" The author address Vicki Been's market dynamics theory in which Been sites housing market practices as the reason for the disproportionate amount of minorities in communities with toxic facilities.(38) The author does not agree with Been's market theory. These types of theories are often deemed "notoriously incomplete."(39) I agree with the author because Been's theory only partially address people who have moved into neighborhoods after the toxic sites have been built. Been=s theory does not adequately discuss toxic facilities that select already established and flourishing minority communities as places to erect toxic sites. 

Hazardous waste facilities often select minority communities because they know that if they try to build waste facilities in predominately Whites upper class neighborhoods, they would receive much opposition from the public. Therefore, the siting process looks to predominately minority communities because of less of a backlash from the public at large and because of cheaper land. When all is said and done very few people really care about the location of waste facilities as long as it is not in their backyard. Unfortunately to be heard requires a lot of economic resources, political clout, and a high socioeconomic status in society which are things that many minority communities do not adequately possess. 

Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL), Environmental Racism in Chester,, (last visited Nov. 24, 1998) 

This is the largest and most in-depth website that I have seen pertaining to issues in Chester, Pennsylvania. Chester residents have gotten together and created this website to educate the public and to keep them updated about what is taking place in Chester. Sixty-five percent of Chester's residents are African - American. This is a low income community that is the host for four hazardous and municipal waste facilities. 

Links on this site take the Internet surfer to the "Study Finding" of the EPA's analysis of the various levels of toxic exposure of the people within this community. That link will also provide information as to the air conditions and the conditions of water and food produced in Chester. There is also a link that allows one to see the side effects that those pollutants have on people. The Clean Air Council compiled a statistical sheet on several health conditions of people who have lived in Chester for more than five years and for less than five years. It is amazing to see the high percentage of people with respiratory related conditions. 

Other links connect the surfer to articles written about the conditions in Chester, lawsuits filed, and the results of the lawsuits. This site takes the surfer into Chester, Pennsylvania. I was able to learn the history of Chester, see pictures, see the landfills in the neighborhood, and see the owners of the landfills. This website is excellent and must be viewed by all people who dispute the notion of environmental racism C I think they would change their mind. Chester residents have and are taking an active rile in combating toxic waste sites in their communities. Also, on their site are suggestions for other communities that may be going through the same problem. 

Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living v. Seif, 132 F.3d 925 (1997) 

A nonprofit resident organization brought this suit against the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The residents alleged that the Pennsylvania Department's issuing of permits to operate waste processing facility in a predominately Black community violated the civil rights of the organization's members.(40) The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs could maintain an action under discriminatory effect regulations promulgated by federal administrative agencies pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.(41)

This decision was a rarity, on the Appellate level, for cases involving facts similar to these because it allowed the residents to sue for discriminatory effect under Title VI. However, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss.(42) The ruling of this case on the Appellate level was a big step. If the Supreme Court did not dismiss this case, I believe other courts would have followed the precedent set by this court's ruling. But now that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case, other courts may be weary about rendering similar verdicts in environmental racism cases like the Chester case. 

Seif v. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, 119 S. Ct. 22 (1998)

The Supreme Court vacated the Appellate Court's decision. The case was remanded to the United State Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss the judgment. The Supreme Court cited United States v. Munsingwear, Inc. as a basis for its decision.(43) In U.S. v. Munsingwear the court said that when a case on its way to the Supreme Court becomes moot, the Supreme Court has the power to vacate the judgment below and remand it with directions to dismiss.(44)

The case became moot when the permit for the facility was revoked the summer of 1998. So in the end, no one really knows how the Supreme Court would have ruled on the case because there was no longer a need for them to rule. Once again, the Supreme Court continues to remain silent on this issue. 

Edward Patrick Boyle, It's Not Easy Bein' Green: The Psychology of Racism, Environmental Discrimination, and the Argument for Modernizing Equal Protection Analysis, 46 Vand. L. Rev. 937 (May 1993)

Many articles have referred to lack of political power as a reason why several minority communities are hosts to the hazardous waste sites. This article also expresses that sentiment. Communities that are more affluent are better able to advance their positions because they have more money, advanced information, and better access to resources and legislative decision makers working on their behalf. The bulk of the political power is held in the promise of votes and campaign contributions that a wealthy and well-organized community can offer. 

The lack of political power of minority groups is something will take time to equalize. There is an increasing amount of minorities in positions of political power. Those are the people that should be looked to to ensure that they meet minority people's needs. Even by doing this I believe it will people of color will never have their needs adequately met as long as society sees them as second class citizens. Therefore, in the meantime, communities of color must continue to get together and combat the constant siting and building of waste sites within their neighborhoods. 

CNN, After Neighbors' 4-Year Fight, L.A. Waste Plant Agrees to Move,, (last visited Oct. 26, 1998) 

This article is proof that by banning together, communities can effect change within their neighborhoods. After four years, residents in a community in South Central Los Angeles won their fight and the toxic waste company agreed to leave.(45) After all of the negative reactions that the company received, they decided to pack up and leave the neighborhood. 

This story can be used to inspire other communities that are struggling to keep toxic facilities out of their communities. Granted, four years is a bit of a long time but in the end their persistence paid off. Also, they sent a message to other toxic facilities who may try to move into that neighborhood.

Online Focus, Environmental Racism?, bb/environment/July-dec97/racism_9-16.html, (last visited Oct. 26, 1998) 

This online newspaper featured a transcript dealing with an environmental racism lawsuit. A neighborhood (Kennedy Heights) in Houston, Texas sued Chevron for $500 million.(46) The Afro-American community alleged that Chevron intentionally used a specific piece of land in their community as a dumping ground because of their race. The transcript includes the 75-year history of this case and the history of oil being duped in this minority community. Toxic waste in any community is bound to lead to health problems of the community members. The people in Kennedy Heights cited several health problems and attributed them to the toxic sites. Lupus, cancer, heart conditions, hypertension, breathing problems are just a few of the cited problems caused by the hazardous waste.(47) Many of these health conditions have even led to a high rate of death in this community -- which is nicknamed "Death Row."(48)

Chevron maintains that they cannot attribute the illnesses and deaths of many Kennedy Heights residents to the waste sites because of lack of evidence to support the residents' beliefs. One key element of proving environmental racism rests in a series of letters written by Gulf's real estate consultant. The letters show that when Gulf wanted to sell the land for White housing, they explicitly stated filing the (toxic) land but when the land was to be sold for "Negro residential development," there was no mention of filing the land.(49) This trial has had several set backs. But it is certain not to be a short trial because each side has stacks and stacks of material to prove or disprove the effects of the land fill on the community. 

CNN Earth, Neighborhood Finally Moving Away From Mount Dioxin, , (last visited Oct. 26, 1998) 

This relocation is the third largest move since the Love Canal, New York (in 1980) and Times Bach, Missouri (in 1982).(50) The EPA labeled the area an emergency site that called for immediate evacuation. They left the mountain of dirt there for three years and constantly assured residents that it was harmless.(51) Five years later and over forty deaths later, the EPA decided to accept its mistake.(52) Unfortunately this is after over forty white crosses have been placed throughout the neighborhood to symbolize all of the residents who died form cancer and respiratory diseases due to the toxic site. The EPA actually admitted its wrong in leaving the toxic mound in the neighborhood. To remedy the situation the EPA has made plans to relocate the entire neighborhood that consisted of 158 homes and 200 apartment units.(53) The community is mostly African - American and many feel that is the reason why the move took so long. The EPA denies that as being the case. 

Adeline Gordon Levine, Love Canal: Science, Politics, and People, Help and Self-Help, Chap. 7 (1982)

For the longest time, the residents of this community wanted something to be done about the nearby toxic sites. Love Canal was a community of about six hundred residents. On August 2, 1978, the Health Commissioner issued a report saying there was an extremely serious threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents.(54) The people of this community got together and organized what they would do to combat that situation. Their main goal was to hold the government accountable and to make sure they were adequately compensated for their move and suffering. The organization reached out for assistance from relatives, local community, relief agencies, churches, and the mass media. 




1. Diane Schwartz, 12 J. Envtl. L. & Litig. 409 

2. Id at 413 

3. Id at 430 

4. Dominique R. Shelton, 32 Beverly Hills B. A. J. 3 

5. Id at 3 

6. Id at 6,7 

7. Id at 11 

8. Terrance J. Centner, 3 Wis. Envtl. L. J. 131 

9. Id at 141 

10. Rachel D. Godsil, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 399 

11. Id at 400 

12. Id at 400 

13. Id at 400 

14. Id at 407 

15. Michele L. Knorr, 6 U. Balt. J. Envtl. L. 71 

16. Id at 75 

17. Id at 75 

18. Id at 77 

19. Id at 80 

20. Natalie M. Hammer, 16 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 693 

21. Id at 693 

22. Id at 693 

23. Id at 698 

24. Id at 699 

25. Id at 706 

26. Id at 708 

27. Id at 708 

28. Laura Westra, Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice, Ch 2, 29 

29. Id at 29 

30. J. Tom Boer, Is There Environmental Racism? -- Study, 1 

31. Lynn E. Blais, 75 N.C. L. Rev. 119 

32. David Bender, At Issue: Environmental Justice, Ch 3, 39 (Vicki Been) 

33. Id at 41 

34. Nelson Smith, 27 Envtl. L. Rep. 10568, 5 

35. Daniel C. Wigley, 7 Risk: Health Safety & Env't 56, 57 

36. Rozelia S. Park, 5 Ind. J. Global. Legal Stud. 662 

37. Id at 701 

38. Shelia Foster, 86 Calif. L. Rev. 793 

39. Id at 794 

40. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living v. Seif, 132 F.3d 927, 928 (1997) 

41. Id at 933 

42. Seif v. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, 119 S.Ct. 22 (1998) 

43. Id at 23 

44. United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 71 S.Ct. 104,106 (1950) 

45. CNN, After Neighbors' 4-Year Fight, L.A. Waste Plant Agrees to Move, 1 

46. Online Focus, Environmental Racism?, 1 

47. Id at 2 

48. Id at 2 

49. Id at 3 

50. CNN Earth, Neighborhood Finally Moving Away From Mount Dioxin, 2 

51. Id at 1 

52. Id at 1 

53. Id at 2 

54. Adeline Gordon Levine, Love Canal: Science, Politics, and People, Ch 7, 175

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