The US EPA this week is offering to relocate 101 families from a dioxin-contaminated area in Pensacola, FL. "But for now, more than 250 other families in a predominantly black community sandwiched between two Superfund sites are getting no promises of government help," prompting "accusations of racial injustice."
The EPA plan, which would cost the agency an estimated $8 million, involves the largest dioxin-related relocation since 1983, when Times Beach, MO, was evacuated. In Pensacola, dioxins have contaminated the abandoned lands of a factory that treated timber with preservatives, as well as nearby homes. Residents have complained that pollutants are causing cancer, respiratory problems and skin rashes (GREENWIRE, 12/19/95). In 4/96, the EPA had offered to move just 66 families (GREENWIRE, 5/7).
A NATIONAL MODEL?
"Pensacola has been chosen as the pilot site for an EPA program that aims to improve relocation decisions in communities threatened by toxic wastes. It also was supposed to be a model of President Clinton's commitment to environmental justice."
But the EPA plan has been "condemned as inadequate" by Margaret Williams, leader of the local group Citizens Against Toxic Exposure, who wants all community members relocated and the polluted neighborhood demolished. And Joel Hirschhorn, a technical expert hired by the neighbors, alleges that EPA overruled the advice of its on-site manager, who had suggested relocating the entire neighborhood.
Jim Kutzman of the EPA said the agency hasn't ruled out relocating more families, but needs to acquire more information before making its final decision (David Olinger, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 8/17).
Copyright 1996 American Political
August 21, 1996
SECTION: SOCIETY AND POLITICS
LOAD-DATE: August 21, 1996