Environmental Justice Initiatives and Achievements
National EJ Program Integration Activities – The Agency, through the leadership of the EJ Executive Steering Committee and OECA/OEJ, continues its efforts to comprehensively incorporate EJ considerations into EPA’s programs, policies and activities.
The following major initiatives and activities support EJ Integration. These efforts represent a significant undertaking and will not be successful without the support and involvement of all parts of the Agency, including the Regions.
NEJAC http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/nejac/subcommittees.htm TheNEJAC is currently focusing on the intergration of EJ into the Agency's programs, policies and activities. The next NEJAC meeting is planned for the summer of 2013.
South Carolina – Leaders in Environmental Action Pilots (LEAP)
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) implemented the “Leaders in Environmental Action” (LEAP) pilot program with support from EPA’s State EJ Cooperative Agreement program. It used collaborative problem-solving approaches to address the environmental and social justice concerns in four communities. As a result of the pilots, the Blackmon Road community, in Rock Hill, obtained a comprehensive water infrastructure study and participated in community development training. The community in Aiken County participated in training under the Superfund Job Training Initiative and organized the SC Environmental Justice Coalition to address EJ concerns in the state of South Carolina. The mill town communities of Graniteville, Warrenville, and Vaucluse participated in a lung function study for the 650 workers injured as a result of a chorine release from a 2005 train derailment. This study was conducted under a National Institute of Health grant. In addition, the community held vision sessions in preparation for upcoming brownfields assessments. The North Charleston communities continue to address issues related to expansion of the Port of Charleston, building on the community mitigation plan they achieved under the National Environmental Policy Act and also participated in training for their Board. The SC DHEC was able to provide significant assistance to all four pilot communities, and in doing so brought together a number of state organizations that can now continue assisting these communities toward their individual goals. A workbook and DVD to assist communities with similar issues has been developed.
The Jacksonville EJ Showcase Community project focused primarily on reducing environmental and human health impacts in Health Zone 1 (HZ1), the city’s urban core area. HZ1 consists of six zip codes of overburdened neighborhoods, affected by many of the health, social, and education issues that are common in low-income areas, including high rates of asthma and blood lead levels in children, high unemployment, and low awareness of environmental hazards. EPA Region 4 utilized a collaborative, community-based approach using new and existing financial, technical and human capital resources to improve public health and the environment. Through a process of collaboration, dialogue and information sharing, the following results were achieved: a comprehensive fish and shellfish study that revealed elevated levels of several pesticides, arsenic, and industrial chemicals in several species consumed by residents of HZ1; issuance of 24 fish consumption advisory signs posted along creeks alerting residents of HZ1; a reduction in the exposures of neighborhood children to asthma triggers and lead-based paint by employing numerous outreach educational strategies targeting day care centers and thousands of residents in HZ1; several ‘build your own’ rain barrel and community garden workshops to improve public health and provide fresh food; three community-industry forums to improve communications by fostering community-industry dialogues; and an increase in the access to community benefits through development of a community health clinic on former brownfields/superfund site. The key project successes were due in large part to coordination and collaboration among the multi-stakeholder partnerships established with federal, state/local agencies and community based organizations.