Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



The environmental justice movement has made progress toward unveiling environmental inequalities and addressing these inequalities through the empowerment of low-income and minority communities. Federal agencies like the EPA have incorporated environmental justice principles into their operating frameworks, with the goals of ensuring every community is treated similarly when it comes to the implementation of environmental statutes, and ensuring community members are active participants in environmental activities that affect community well-being. Community involvement at federal Superfund sites is rarely conceptualized as an event related to environmental justice despite the role it has in shaping decisions at hazardous waste sites. This study assesses community involvement across 32 Superfund sites in the EPA’s 6th region, in light of these environmental justice commitments. Multinomial logistic regression and case studies addressed the following questions: are minority and low income communities less likely to be involved with Superfund site remediation and what other factors explain variation in community involvement? Two case studies addressed outcomes associated with high community involvement and specific site dynamics that emerged in order to gauge how meaningful involvement was at these sites. The results showed no clear evidence of disparities in involvement among minority and low income communities, although urban areas were found to be significantly associated with higher levels of community involvement. The case studies demonstrated that while involvement in superfund remediation is solicited by EPA officials, communication issues and lack of representation of all community interests lend themselves to controversial cleanups and dissatisfied sectors of the community.



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Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret