East St. Louis Chemical Plants and Waste Incinerators, USA


Description
East St. Louis has dealt with a long history of environmental burdens and socioeconomic struggles. With only about 27,000 residents, more than 98% of the population is African American, about half of all residents are living below the poverty line and unemployment is about twice the state and national average [1, 2]. Chemical plants, waste incinerators, refineries and power plants have plagued this city for more than a century and has resulted in a disproportionate burden of lead poisoning, educational disparities, unemployment and toxic exposure among the residents of East St. Louis [3].
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Basic Data
NameEast St. Louis Chemical Plants and Waste Incinerators, USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceIllinois
SiteEast St. Louis
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Incinerators
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Other industries
Specific CommoditiesChemical products
Copper
Zinc
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
In 1999 study by Lead Contamination Task Force, over 1600 children found to have elevated blood lead levels.
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Project Area (in hectares)3,730
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population27,000
Start Date01/01/1890
Company Names or State EnterprisesMonsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Big River Zinc (BRZ) from United States of America - One of companies in East St. Louis
ZincOx Resources plc from United Kingdom - Bought BRZ for the purpose of using the plant to upgrade zinc before sale
Pfizer Chemical from United States of America - Located in East St. Louis
Cerro Flow from United States of America - Located in East St. Louis
Relevant government actorsUnited States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), State of Illinois, Illinois EPA
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEast St. Louis Action Research Project, Alta Sita Neighboring Revitalization, Emerson Park Development Corporation, Landsdowne Improvement Association, Edgemont Citizens for Crime Prevention and Community Development, Olivette Park Neighborhood Association, East St. Louis Community Action Network, East St. Louis Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC), Sierra Club, American Bottom Conservancy, Metro Hope, East End Improvement Association, The Metro East Lead Collaborative’ (MELC)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
OtherHigh rates of asthma from air pollution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Residents of East St. Louis have been burdened by industry and the negative environmental impacts of industry for decades. This impacts are felt disproportionately by poor, African American families who were not able to move following the post-war decline of production that led those who could afford it, to move where they could receive commonplace amenities that governments have always provided. Meanwhile, poorer black residents of East St. Louis have suffered from air pollution, toxic waters and soils, and lack of basic services. Some companies have compensated families living next to facilities, paying the families money so they (the companies) can continue polluting in their backyard. While there have been small changes made and some remediation performed, the city continues to struggle against many of the same hurdles.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Environmental Justice Policy
[click to view]

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) Site Narrative for Sauget Area 1
[click to view]

EPA NPL Sauget Area 2
[click to view]

Federal Register Volume 72, Number 197 (Friday, October 12, 2007): Department of Justice, Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), United States v Afton Chemical Corp, et al
[click to view]

References

[2] East St. Louis Kids Struggle With Life-threatening Disease, Climate Central Climate Journal June 26th, 2012
[click to view]

[1] Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s East. St. Louis Residential Lead Paint Outreach Collaborative: A State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Project Proposal submitted to the United State Environmental Protection Agency by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the Request for Proposals for EPA-OECA-OEJ-09-01

April 10, 2009
[click to view]

[3] Environmental Justice Case Study: East St. Louis, IL
University of Michigan course 492
[click to view]

[5] Excerpt from book Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
[click to view]

Links

Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project: Sauget, Illinois Industrial Corridor Sites, St. Clair County, Illinois
[click to view]

Responsible Parties Reach $2.6 Million Settlement for Superfund Site Cleanup- Environmental Protection March 1, 2007
[click to view]

Pollution lawsuits target Sauget plant as settlement talks bog down- St. Louis Today, June 14, 2014
[click to view]

Other Documents

[4] Masters Thesis by Evelien Hermans: To explore the processes of the U.S. and the Netherlands, in which environmental justice  issues are created and addressed Focus case study of East St Louis. Written in January 2004
[click to view]

East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) civic engagement
[click to view]

Building in East St. Louis
[click to view]

Locator Map Map showing Sauget's location and surrounding features
[click to view]

American Bottoms Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant
[click to view]

Convenience Store Very few grocery stores so residents must buy their food at convenience stores like these where food is overpriced (www.environmentalhealthnews.org)
[click to view]

Monsanto Corporation Image 1 (www.builtstlouis.net)
[click to view]

Monsanto Corporation in Sauget Image 2 (www.builtstlouis.net)
[click to view]

Big River Zinc Corporation photo taken November 2007 (www.builtstlouis.net)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, bgrafton@umich.edu and pmohai@umich.edu, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update08/05/2015
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