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East St. Louis Chemical Plants and Waste Incinerators, USA


East St. Louis has dealt with a long history of environmental burdens and socioeconomic struggles.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:East St. Louis Chemical Plants and Waste Incinerators, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Illinois
Location of conflict:East St. Louis
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Chemical industries
Other industries
Specific commodities:Chemical products
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 1999 study by Lead Contamination Task Force, over 1600 children found to have elevated blood lead levels.

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Project area:3,730
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:27,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1890
Company names or state enterprises:Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Big River Zinc (BRZ) from United States of America - One of companies in East St. Louis
ZincOx Resources plc from United Kingdom - Bought BRZ for the purpose of using the plant to upgrade zinc before sale
Pfizer Chemical from United States of America - Located in East St. Louis
Cerro Flow from United States of America - Located in East St. Louis
Relevant government actors:United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), State of Illinois, Illinois EPA
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:East St. Louis Action Research Project, Alta Sita Neighboring Revitalization, Emerson Park Development Corporation, Landsdowne Improvement Association, Edgemont Citizens for Crime Prevention and Community Development, Olivette Park Neighborhood Association, East St. Louis Community Action Network, East St. Louis Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC), Sierra Club, American Bottom Conservancy, Metro Hope, East End Improvement Association, The Metro East Lead Collaborative’ (MELC)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsHigh rates of asthma from air pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Residents of East St. Louis have been burdened by industry and the negative environmental impacts of industry for decades. This impacts are felt disproportionately by poor, African American families who were not able to move following the post-war decline of production that led those who could afford it, to move where they could receive commonplace amenities that governments have always provided. Meanwhile, poorer black residents of East St. Louis have suffered from air pollution, toxic waters and soils, and lack of basic services. Some companies have compensated families living next to facilities, paying the families money so they (the companies) can continue polluting in their backyard. While there have been small changes made and some remediation performed, the city continues to struggle against many of the same hurdles.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Environmental Justice Policy
[click to view]

EPA NPL Sauget Area 2
[click to view]

Federal Register Volume 72, Number 197 (Friday, October 12, 2007): Department of Justice, Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive

Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), United States v Afton Chemical Corp, et al
[click to view]

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) Site Narrative for Sauget Area 1
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Environmental Justice Case Study: East St. Louis, IL

University of Michigan course 492
[click to view]

[2] East St. Louis Kids Struggle With Life-threatening Disease, Climate Central Climate Journal June 26th, 2012
[click to view]

[5] Excerpt from book Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
[click to view]

[1] Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s East. St. Louis Residential Lead Paint Outreach Collaborative: A State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Project Proposal submitted to the United State Environmental Protection Agency by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the Request for Proposals for EPA-OECA-OEJ-09-01

April 10, 2009
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Pollution lawsuits target Sauget plant as settlement talks bog down- St. Louis Today, June 14, 2014
[click to view]

Responsible Parties Reach $2.6 Million Settlement for Superfund Site Cleanup- Environmental Protection March 1, 2007
[click to view]

Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Project: Sauget, Illinois Industrial Corridor Sites, St. Clair County, Illinois
[click to view]

Other documents

[4] Masters Thesis by Evelien Hermans: To explore the processes of the U.S. and the Netherlands, in which environmental justice  issues are created and addressed Focus case study of East St Louis. Written in January 2004
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update08/05/2015
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