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Chester, Pennsylvania is a community of just under 40,000 people, located southwest of Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania. Its story is a stark example of environmental racism. Chester has become a regional repository for toxic waste. It is home to 4 major hazardous waste treatment plants, including the largest medical waste facility in the U.S. There are incinerators that are burning garbage and contaminated soil. Some of the citizens of Chester became aware of emerging health concerns. Statistics supported their concerns. And the demographics of the area supported an assertion of environmental racism and discrimination against the poor.

Aerial view of Chester, PA Figure 1. Chester, Pennsylvania is a prime example of environmental racism. What hints of pollution can you see just from this aerial view?

Health Issues in Chester

Demographic Data for Chester

It is also a story of the power of the environmental justice movement.

Activity: You are now going to view a video profiling the environmental justice movement at work in Chester, PA. As you watch the video take notes on evidence of environmental health risks and on the actions taken by the members of the community—those who make up the Environmental Justice Movement.

[URL for video]