(un)Just Sustainabilities online Exhibit

This online exhibit for Professor Heather Bedi’s Environmental and Social Justice class allows Dickinson College students to reflect on environmental injustices and demographic trends in their neighborhood, town, city, or state. In defining just sustainabilities, Agyeman et al. (2003) argue that social and economic inequalities across place exacerbate environmental injustices. They advocate for human equality to be central in sustainability efforts. Students explore (un) just sustainabilities in their place through a paper and a publicly exhibited zero-waste visual or audio project.

Limerick Generating Station: Disproportionate Risk and Exposure to Cancer-Related Nuclear Power Products

Just sustainability is the insurance of our environment’s compatibility with quality of life and wellbeing for every person. Income and exposure to environmental burdens must be equalized across all races, so that a safe and just space for all humanity can be created. Quality of life depends on the living conditions of residents and their capabilities within their area. We must improve the quality of life and wellbeing for all citizens in order to alleviate the burden of unjust sustainability. (Agyeman 2013) At the edge of Limerick Township, PA, there is a nuclear power plant called the Limerick Generating Station. The Limerick Generating Station has had multiple instances of spills and pollution that gets into the Schuylkill River (Brandt 2012). Additionally, radioactive isotopes such as tritium and strontium-90 are consistently detected in surface water and groundwater surrounding LGS, sometimes in high concentrations. These isotopes are linked to thyroid cancer, of which Pottstown and Montgomery County in general have a disproportionately high rate and risk (CDC 2020). Pottstown, located adjacent to the power plant, has a cluster of high black population that identifies as low-income. Part of Pottstown’s cancer risk comes from the Limerick Generating Station’s release of radiation into the surrounding surface water and groundwater: specifically, tritium and strontium-90. This is an un-just sustainability because the black population of Pottstown has a disproportionately high rate of thyroid cancer, as found through CDC cancer case reports, which is linked to the detections of radioactive isotopes in the waterways released by Limerick Generating Station.

 

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