Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States

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Across the United States, thousands of people, most of them in low-income or minority communities, live next to heavily polluting industrial sites. Many of them reach a point at which they say "Enough is enough." After living for years with poisoned air and water, contaminated soil, and pollution-related health problems, they start to take action—organizing, speaking up, documenting the effects of pollution on their neighborhoods. In Sacrifice Zones,Steve Lerner tells the stories of twelve communities, from Brooklyn to Pensacola,that rose up to fight the industries and military bases causing disproportionately high levels of chemical pollution. He calls these low-income neighborhoods "sacrifice zones." And he argues that residents of these sacrifice zones,tainted with chemical pollutants, need additional regulatory protections.

Sacrifice Zones goes beyond the disheartening statistics and gives us the voices of the residents themselves,offering compelling portraits of accidental activists who have become grassroots leaders in the struggle for environmental justice and details the successful tactics they have used on the fenceline with heavy industry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A significant complement to three decades of environmental justice research; it provides irrefutable empirical evidence that not all American communities are created equal." Robert D. Bullard Environmental Health Perspectives
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262518178
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 817,874
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Lerner is the author of Eco-Pioneers: Practical Visionaries Solving Today's Environmental Problems (1998) and Diamond: A Struggle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor (2006), both published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents




Introduction 1

I Partial Victories

1 Ocala, Florida: Community Blanketed by "Black Snow" from Neighboring Charcoal Factory 19

2 Pensacola, Florida: Health Problems near "Mount Dioxin" Require Mass Relocation 41

II Contaminated Air

3 Port Arthur, Texas: Public Housing Residents Breathe Contaminated Air from Nearby Refineries and Chemical Plants 73

4 Corpus Christi, Texas: Hillcrest Residents Exposed to Benzene in Neighborhood Next to Refinery 99

5 Addyston, Ohio: The Plastics Plant Next Door 119

6 Marietta, Ohio: Steel-Hardening Plant Spews Tons of Manganese into River Valley Town's Air 137

III Contaminated Water

7 Tallevast, Florida: Rural Residents Live Atop Groundwater Contaminated by High-Tech Weapons Company 157

8 San Antonio, Texas: Contamination from Kelly Air Force Base Suspected of Causing Sickness and Death in Adjacent Latino Community 177

IV Contaminated Soil

9 Daly City, California: Midway Village: Public Housing Built on Contaminated Soil 195

10 St. Lawrence Island, Alaska: Yupik Eskimos Face Contaminated Water and Traditional Food Supplies near Former U.S. Military Bases 219

11 Greenpoint, New York: Giant Oil Spill Spreads beneath Brooklyn Neighborhood 247

V An Ongoing Puzzle: Disease Clusters Possibly Caused by Multiple Sources of Pollution

12 Fallon, Nevada: Largest U.S. Pediatric Leukemia Cluster near Naval Air Station and Tungsten Smelter 267

Conclusion 297

Notes 315

Index 339

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