Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987—2007

A Report Prepared for the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries

In 1987, the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice released its groundbreaking study Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. The report was significant because it found race to be the most potent variable in predicting where commercial hazardous waste facilities were located in the U.S., more powerful than household income, the value of homes and the estimated amount of hazardous waste generated by industry.

This year, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries commissioned a new report as part of the twentieth anniversary of the release of the 1987 report. The 2007 Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty report uses 2000 census data. The report also chronicles important environmental justice milestones since 1987 and includes a collection of “impact” essays from environmental justice leaders on a range of topics. This new report also examines the environmental justice implications in post-Katrina New Orleans and uses the Dickson County (Tennessee) Landfill case, the "poster child" for environmental racism, to illustrate the deadly mix of waste and race.

Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty is designed to facilitate renewed grassroots organizing and provide a catalyst for local, regional and national environmental justice public forums, discussion groups and policy changes in 2007 and beyond.