Chester Residents Win Case Against DELCORA

Proceeds to help set up a Children's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Under the Consent Decree filed today in federal court, DELCORA has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sludge processing facilities which will prevent smoke and fumes from leaking into the residential neighborhoods nearby. These improvements include the addition of a new ventilation system and scrubber for the sludge processing room, improvements to the odor controls on the sludge holding tanks and the addition of special burners on the sludge incinerators.

CRCQL was represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia attorney Jerome Balter. The US EPA, the DEP also participated in the negotiations. Though Delcora has not admitted to any violations of environmental regulations, it has agreed to pay a total of $325,000 in civil penalties. A special feature of the Civil Penalty Provision requries Delcora to pay $200,000 of the civil penalty for a Children's Lead Prevention project to be operated by CRCQL.

In addition to taking steps to protect the environment, Delcora has entered into a special agreement to provide for the establishment of a Children's Lead Poisoning Prevention program to protect Chester's young children from becoming poisoned by lead.

The lead project will be operated by CRCQL under the direction of of Chairperson Zulene Mayfield. The program will be funded by Delcora. According to Ms. Mayfield, "it is better to invest these funds in the health of the community than to send them to the government treasuries in Washington & Harrisburg. Our children deserve this protection."

Because the Lead Prevention Program is designed to prevent lead poisoning by providing special education & training to families of newborn children, it significantly differs from other programs which treat children who have already been poisoned by lead.

The following are comments from Zulene Mayfield on 12/18/97 at the press conference:

Five years ago, this past November, the residents of Chester came together & formed Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL). We united our minds and hearts together with the determination to have environmental justice. When we became this journey, many people said that we were wasting our time, that nothing will ever change, no one will listen, and nothing can be done. Today we hold up our heads and say that we can protect our children.

Delcora has agreed to make improvements to their sewage treatment operations which will prevent smoke and odors from being emitted into the community. As part of the agreement CRCQL will organize, manage and operate and program that attempts to prevent very young children from becoming lead poisoned. Our project differs from most other lead poisoning prevention projects in that it seeks to prevent lead poisoning whereas other projects merely react after a child has been found to lead poisoned.

We have come a long was as a community struggling for environmental justice, today our efforts have taken us a little closer to our goal. We still have someway to go on our journey, today we've taken the steps to make sure that our children will be a little more safer along the way.

Sometime ago, a friend gave me a pin that says "Never doubt that a group of committed people can change the world, Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Today in Chester, that has never been truer.

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Last modified: 14 February 1998