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Environmental Justice
The Metro Atlanta Environmental Justice Project

While all have a right to live in a clean and healthy environment, the truth is that many do not have equal access to clean air, water, and land. Those without access to these fundamental resources are disproportionately minority and low-income communities. The inequities are particularly disturbing in the Atlanta metropolitan area. For example, Fulton County is home to sixty hazardous waste sites ~~ the average number of hazardous sites in any given Georgia county is three. The Metro-Atlanta Environmental Justice Project will bring needed resources to the most disadvantaged communities by providing education, advocacy and legal representation to stop illegal pollution and protect public health.

CONTACT: Contact MaKara Rumley at mrumley@greenlaw.org to bring resources to your community.

THE PROBLEM


The 14-county metro-Atlanta area is home to over 160 hazardous waste sites which constitutes more than a third of hazardous waste sites in Georgia.  Every week, Dekalb County - which is also home to 8 landfills - reports numerous sewer spills into the creeks that empty into the South River.  For example, on June 28, 2010, a major spill sent 142,500 gallons into the Doolittle Creek on Flat Shoals Road that feeds into the South River.  (Click here to read what GreenLaw is doing about DeKalb County's water quality problems.)  This year, Metro Atlanta was also named as one of the top 10 asthma capitals in the country by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  Despite these risks, there has been no systemic effort to provide the legal resources needed for these communities to address these problems. 


The Patterns of Pollution report identifies 5 pollution hotspots in the metro Atlanta area.  The mapping portion of the project also includes an interactive map that allows you to find pollution points near where you live in metro Atlanta. 

Simply click the link below, enter an address in the the 14-county metro Atlanta area, and pull up a report of sources of pollution near that address.


View the Interactive Map
Download the full report.


Click here to see a map showing what communities in Atlanta are overburdened by pollution.

While certain communities are overburdened with pollution, waste, and the associated health problems, these same communities also face seemingly insurmountable burdens in addressing these issues.  The resources that are needed to ensure that the laws are enforced are often out of reach to many of the communities most burdened by environmental and health problems.  Environmental justice is an area of the law frequently overlooked when considering the legal needs of low-income communities, yet providing these services can dramatically improve quality of life and public health in areas that have been historically neglected.  The need for these services was recently the subject of a Leadership Atlanta ("LEAD") project.  LEAD is a highly competitive program in which young leaders take on projects that improve their skills while providing valuable services to organizations that serve Atlanta.  (More about the program can be found at www.leadershipatlanta.org.)  LEAD found that a coordinated effort is needed to properly serve low-income communities struggling with environmental justice issues.
 
In 2010, GreenLaw was awarded a prestigous fellowship by the University of Georgia School of Law which places an experienced attorney at GreenLaw to launch the Metro-Atlanta Environmental Justice Project.  David Deganian, UGA's public interest fellow, is leading GreenLaw's efforts to provide education, strategic planning and legal resources to members of these communities. Community partners include neighborhood planning units (NPUs) and neighborhood organizations, community leaders, health officials, elected officials, individuals, environmental consulting firms as well as many others.  GreenLaw and UGA will continue to work together with community partners to provide education and resources to address environmental inequities in Georgia.  The delivery of these services will be through printed material, community presentations, web resources and individual one-on-one counseling. 


 


Update May 2012: Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce Shepherd recently lead an effort to clean up 30,000 discarded tires in a single day. She also heads up the City of Atlanta Tire Commission. GreenLaw is working with the Tire Commission to present the recommendations to Mayor Reed and the Atlanta City Council.
Learn about the Patterns of Pollution in metro Atlanta. The report analyzes publicly available information to identify eight types of air, water, and land pollution and compares this pollution information with demographic data on people living in the 14-county region.
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