WATER + SEWAGE
Southside Syracuse, a vibrant community that is often a paradigm for environmental injustice issues, was the target site for the Midland sewage treatment plant. Sued by the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (NYSDEC), Onondaga county was ordered by a federal judge to start a 400-million-dollar waste remediation project to help mitigate the issue of pollution in Onondaga Lake from untreated sewage. In response to this issue, the county’s government planned on building regional treatment facilities along the creek. One of the projects, the Midland Avenue Regional Treatment Facility was to be placed in Southside, Syracuse. As a result, a group of Southside residents formed the Partnership for Onondaga Creek (POC) in efforts to stop the construction of this regional treatment facility. Many of the Southside residents concerns circled around the negative effects that came with placing a sewage plant in the neighborhood. They were concerned about the environmental and social impacts it would bring to the community. Having support from many activist groups, POC fought to stop the sewage treatment plant from being built, but to no avail, their voices were shunned.
Angie Lane, a Southside activist who worked along POC, presented to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), detailing how unjust placing a sewage treatment facility would be to the neighborhood. She described how a “white, middle class community would not put up with a sewer facility in a residential area” so why place a sewage system in a predominantly black neighborhood? In 2004, Lane and members of POC filed a complaint stating that the Midland Regional Treatment facility discriminated against black residents and harmed the health and quality of life in Southside Syracuse. They noted that in Northside Syracuse, a predominantly white neighborhood, planned to have a sewage plant placed in their community. However, for this sewage plant, the city was going to use alternative technology so that it would be less obtrusive to the community. Despite the efforts to convince the EPA of not placing the sewage plant in their community and offering new solutions to this problem, the EPA did nothing and disregarded the community’s concerns.
For additional information on the Midland Regional Treatment Facility, click here
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