Connecting Superfund to Environmental Justice Stories

Read the full tip sheet from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

A recent study showing that the worst hazardous waste sites tend to be near low-income housing should come as no surprise. But it does open the door to the many environmental justice stories waiting to be told.

Concerns about the greater impact of pollution on poor people and ethnic minorities are not new. Nor are they going away. But now, environmental reporters have more tools than ever for finding and telling these stories.

The study that just made headlines was done jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It found that about 70 percent of the nation’s most contaminated sites are near low-income housing. The agencies looked at sites on the National Priorities List of the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program.

The findings are only newsier because they highlight one of the few areas where incoming Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seems to care about protecting people’s environmental health (although not everybody saw it that way). Pruitt in April visited East Chicago, Ind., a Superfund site where lead contamination prompted evacuation of more than 270 families.

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