Race, Class and Environmental Quality
in the City of Chester

	President Clinton has defined environmental injustice as
"disproportionate, adverse effects on human health and the 
environment in minority and low-income communities." By any 
definition, Chester is a glarinq example of environmental injustice.

	Chester residents have been subjected to excessive levels of
air pollution, odors, noise, truck traffic, diesel fumes, and other
environmental assaults. At the same time, many Chester residents
suffer from poor health, leaving them more vulnerable to the
effects of environmental pollution.

	In recent years, Chester has become a target for the waste
disposal industry. Beqinning with the Westinghouse incinerator,
which Delaware County located in its most densely populated
community, with the highest poverty rate and largest minority
population, Chester has attracted an increasing number of proposals
to construct waste processing facilities.

	Thermal Pure Systems received a permit for the largest
infectious waste facility in the state. The plant began operation
last fall, and its permit would allow it to handle more than five
times the total amount of infeciious waste generated in the state.

	Soil Remediation Systems has applied for a permit to build a
facility to process contaminated soil. Westinghouse has applied
for a permit which would allow it to burn residual waste from
industrial plants, in addition to ordinary municipal waste.

	Chester residents have experienced increasing problems from
these and other sources, including the Delcora sewage plant and
sludge incinerator. In response, neighbors organized Chester
Residents Concerned for Quality Living.

	In the last year, Chester Residents has placed the issue of
environmental justice on the public agenda. Chester Residents has
brought citizen lawsuits against the state for improperly permitting 
the Thermal Pure facility, and against Delcora for frequent
malodors. Chester Residents also got the City to amend its zoning
ordinance to restrict the siting of waste processing facilities.
The EPA has begun a study of the cumulative effect of environmental
pollution on Chester residents.

	Environmental problems in Chester affect everyone, whether we
are long-time residents of the West End, or attend Widener College
for a few years. We all need to work together to improve the
quality of life in Chester.

Return to the Environmental Racism in Chester Homepage

Last modified: 13 April 1996