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Dumping in Dixie Revisited: The Evolution of Environmental Injustices in South Carolina

Jerry T. Mitchell, Deborah S. K. Thomas and Susan L. Cutter
Social Science Quarterly
Vol. 80, No. 2 (June 1999), pp. 229-243
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42863897
Page Count: 15
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Dumping in Dixie Revisited: The Evolution of Environmental Injustices in South Carolina
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Abstract

Objective. Much of the environmental justice research has focused on outcome—the relative location of hazardous facilities and low-income or minority populations. While presenting a snapshot of contemporary inequities, these studies fail to demonstrate some of the underlying causes that produced such outcomes. One question is whether the facility was located initially in a minority or low-income community or if minority and low-income populations came to live around the facility over time. This article examines demographic changes in areas near hazardous facilities to ascertain which came first. Methods. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), major South Carolina TRI facilities were classed as urban, suburban, or rural. The racial and income characteristics of host areas surrounding these facilities were traced from the establishment date of the facility through 1990. These results were compared statistically against state data for the same time period. Results. At the time the facilities were established, there were no statistically significant relationships between race and location except for a few host areas that had significantly lower percentages of minority residents than the state average. The results for income were mixed, with only rural host areas having income levels generally lower than the state average; income levels in suburban and urban host areas were generally equal to or higher than the state average income. By 1990, all host areas except rural areas had significantly higher minority percentages than the state. All host areas except urban areas had significantly lower income levels than the state in 1990. Conclusions. These results indicate that the facilities came first. While inequitable situations may exist currently, the process by which they came about is more likely explained by state and regional migration patterns and market dynamics.

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