Environmental justice fueled by social science, engagement

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Under the midday sun, several people sat fishing on the bank of a meandering river. They were just downstream from a nuclear power plant.

“Most people don’t fish in the middle of a weekday,” said Dave Anderson, an economist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). “It turns out, they were fishing for food.”

Since 1994, PNNL has been assessing environmental justice related to licensing large, complex energy infrastructure projects, which sometimes occur near minority and low-income communities. Like the people fishing, these communities can be directly affected by the noise, chemicals, traffic, and other effects of industrial areas and may not see any of the economic benefits toward their long-term quality of life. When a site is proposed, multidisciplinary teams from PNNL are behind the scenes identifying potentially affected communities and conducting evaluations to see if there are disproportionate impacts to underserved groups.

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