The location of hazardous waste facilities

1997 1997

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Abstract (summary)

This study evaluates "environmental equity" in the residential distribution of commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs). Because of claims that TSDFs are disproportionately sited in poor and black neighborhoods, this area of research has become important to scholars, policymakers and community activists. Indeed, claims have generated significant changes in U.S. environmental policy, including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) establishment of the Office of Environmental Justice, several remedial Congressional bills and an Executive Order from President Clinton mandating Federal Agencies consider environmental justice issues. Yet empirical analyses are limited.

Beyond a comprehensive literature review and a theoretical summary, this study contributes two broad analyses. First is a comprehensive cross-sectional analysis of the current distribution of TSDFs. Efforts are directed toward uncovering systematic differences between the demographic composition of neighborhoods with and without TSDFs. Importantly, proxy measures for zoning and market forces in addition to proxy measures of TSDF activity are employed. Second is a longitudinal analysis of TSDF siting focused on whether the composition of neighborhoods is systematically related to site selection decisions at the time of siting. Further analyses aim to find out if TSDFs significantly impact the demographic composition of host neighborhoods over time.

Several data resources are employed. TSDF data were primarily compiled from the Environmental Services Directory, validated through the EPA's RCRIS data resource and a telephone survey. Neighborhood data come from the 1970, 1980 and 1990 tract-level Census files. Proxy measures of zoning and TSDF activity come from Dunn and Bradstreet industrial firm files and EPA's 1992 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), respectively.

Analyses reveal no stark evidence of environmental inequity in either the current distribution of TSDFs or longitudinally. Findings suggest TSDF neighborhoods are generally white, working-class, industrial neighborhoods--a finding consistent with some theories of urban structure and some previous research. More active TSDFs appear to be located in neighborhoods with smaller percentages of minority and poor persons. Simple conclusions are complicated by evidence suggesting TSDF neighborhoods are surrounded by poor and minority neighborhoods and other methodological obstacles, however. Implications for policy and research are discussed.

Indexing (details)

Minority & ethnic groups;
0938: Demographics
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0631: Sociology
0366: Geography
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; environmental sociology; industrial siting
The location of hazardous waste facilities
Oakes, John Michael
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 58/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591475586, 0591475588
Anderton, Douglas L.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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