UPDATE: Researchers visit Pascagoula neighborhood to help track nearby industry pollution
UPDATE: Researchers visit Pascagoula neighborhood to help track nearby industry pollution WLOX
Pascagoula Residents Unite for Cleaner Environment
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) – A group of Pascagoula residents living next door to one of the coast’s largest industrial complexes is uniting over its fight for a cleaner environment.
Cherokee Concerned Citizens
On Friday, two environmental researchers from Colorado and New Hampshire visited members of the Cherokee Concerned Citizens, on a mission to help.
Advocating for a Pure Quality of Life
Barbara Weckesser is a Cherokee Drive resident, the founder of the Concerned Citizens group and an advocate for a pure quality of life who has been pushing for just that over a decade now.
“We’ve never been against industry, but we also know the major impacts it has had on our health over the last 12 to 15 years,” she said.
Partnership with “Buy In” Nonprofit
Weckesser recruited a national environmental nonprofit called “Buy In,” which supplied the Cherokee Concerned Citizens with doorhangers, tablets, and a grant worth $2,000.
“I don’t have time to wait,” Weckesser said. “My health is getting worse. My husband’s is getting worse. My neighbor’s health is getting worse.”
Surveying Neighbors and Seeking a Property Buyout
The Concerned Citizens worked to find out if their neighbors were experiencing any medical issues and if they would like to help push for a property buyout.
“I have been to just about every neighbor’s house,” Weckesser explained. “Out of 103 surveys, we only got four noes. You don’t expect to knock on someone’s door and them start to immediately tell you this.”
Collaboration with Thriving Earth Exchange
Weckesser also teamed up with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Thriving Earth Exchange, a team of experts lending their environmental skills to communities like this all over.
Since last December, Thriving Earth research scientists Catherine Duderstadt from the University of New Hampshire and Caroline Frischmon from the University of Colorado-Boulder met with the Concerned Citizens virtually every other week.
Addressing Cumulative Pollution
“The pollution the community is experiencing is cumulative, continually accumulating over the decades,” said Duderstadt.
For months, they have reviewed Weckesser’s survey findings, as well as analyzed mounds of previously collected and published data from MDEQ and EPA.
“I think, with air pollution, it’s really difficult to prove the presence of a problem because it’s invisible and it’s easy to dismiss,” Frischmon said. “Some of the most striking data that we’ve looked through is the health surveys.”
Collecting Data for Further Study
Following a flood of complaints of strong odor in February, MDEQ responded to the area and reported the all-clear.
“Everything was basically below the detection limit to the instrument,” said Frischmon. “When they say it’s below the detection limit, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the levels are low because they were using instruments where the detection limits were higher than recommended health guidelines.”
Thriving Earth’s next step is to collect its own data to study.
“We could only base it off these four samples, but those are concerning levels for me,” Frischmon added. “So, it’s kind of been like, our knowledge of the health standards and the different monitoring equipment and all that has allowed us to kind of add context to what has been done previously.”
Providing Air-Monitoring Instruments
Frischmon and Duderstadt are now providing the Concerned Citizens with air-monitoring instruments that can screen detectable odors right from their yards with real-time monitoring and recording.
The nonprofit’s up-to-date data, expert advice, and rapid findings give Weckesser and other Concerned Citizens a new tool in their ongoing — and now legal — battle.
Federal Lawsuit and Future Monitoring Project
The Cherokee Concerned Citizens filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA regarding the potential for additional concerning pollutants. That is still ongoing.
“I’m very excited because I see the light at the end of the tunnel for residents who live in the Cherokee Forest subdivision,” Weckesser added.
According to MDEQ, the agency has been awarded two separate grants for an upcoming air quality monitoring project, and it just recently received funding for one of those.
“Because the procurement process for the equipment and contracts necessary to complete the project can take some time, we are initiating that process first,
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 15: Life on Land
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- SDG 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
- SDG 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
- SDG 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
- SDG 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services.
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
- Indicator for SDG 3.9: Number of deaths and illnesses attributed to hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
- Indicator for SDG 11.6: Ambient air pollution measured in cities.
- Indicator for SDG 13.1: Number of deaths, missing persons, and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population.
- Indicator for SDG 15.1: Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
|3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
|Number of deaths and illnesses attributed to hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
|SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
|11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
|Ambient air pollution measured in cities.
|SDG 13: Climate Action
|13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
|Number of deaths, missing persons, and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population.
|SDG 15: Life on Land
|15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services.
|Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type.
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