June 9, 2007

Environmental Racism on Kauai's Westside

Like a prehistoric monster looking for it's prey, a chemical sprayer works it's way towards a building of classrooms on Waimea Canyon Middle School campus. With winds blowing towards campus it's sonance carried on the breeze strikes fear in children and adults knowing it's breath will soon cause discomfort, pain, illness, and possible future death. (see video)

Environmental racism can be defined as the intentional siting of hazardous waste sites, landfills, incinerators, and polluting industries in communities inhabited mainly by African-American, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, migrant farm workers, and the working poor. Minorities are particularly vulnerable because they are perceived as weak and passive citizens who will not fight back against the poisoning of their neighborhoods in fear that it may jeopardize jobs and economic survival (1). Environmental injustice and racism occur not only when policymakers violate minorities' rights to free informed consent or equal treatment in siting decisions but also when risk assessors use biased scientific methods whose policy consequences de facto result in unjustified discrimination against people of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups (2). 50 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are living in communities with one or more abandoned or uncontrolled toxic waste sites (1,2). A study by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that socioeconomic conditions and race are the major factors determining environmental discrimination (3).

1. "Fighting Environmental Racism: A Selected Annotated Bibliography " by Irwin Weintraub,
2. "Environmental Racism and Biased Methods of Risk Assessment" by Daniel C. Wigley & Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette. http://www.piercelaw.edu/risk/vol7/winter/wigley.htm
3. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1992. Environmental Equity: Reducing Risk For All Communities. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The video "Prehistoric Monster" was taken 01/23/07. Despite Doug Tiffany of Syngenta being contacted that over spray was occurring and that students and staff were having adverse physical reactions; the spray operator continued spraying until he was done. Hawaii Dept. of Ag was contacted and a misuse complaint filed (KA-07-01). DOA investigators Ann Kam and her supervisor Glen Sahara came to the school 01/26/07 and took photographs and swipes from a classroom not located in T-building (where the video was taken). It rained heavily prior the investigators taking samples. As per the DOA Report Analysis concluded, Carbaryl -- not detected. See Pesticide/Herbicide 101 link for description of Carbaryl toxicity.