In Module Three we considered the conflicts between the local community over the proposal to permit a hazardous waste incinerator. However, the primary learning point presented in Case Assignment was to learn how to consider the increased risks to persons residing in the local community that are more likely to be exposed to the harmful health from the emissions and other impacts from the proposed hazardous waste incinerator. If the approved the community would be subjected to hazardous waste incinerator AND the Waste-to-Energy Facility. Therefore, we must consider the effects of both projects and examine then in a Multi-Source Context. In this case, we are examining the risks from living near a refinery or major seaport; however, we will focus on the Characterization and Analysis of the Risks associated with living in close proximity to an oil refinery and/or a major seaport.
California is developing a plan to control emissions related to major seaports, such as the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and oil refineries in the harbor area. There are many communities living in close proximity both of the above mentioned facilities, including a low-income public housing community occupied largely by Hispanics and African American residents. Community groups from these homes have objected strongly to being exposed to air emissions related to both facilities. For instance, the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach have over 30,000 diesel trucks entering and leaving the harbor area each day. Groups representing the communities residing in the area cite a variety of health risks associated with living near refineries and the port. Some of these groups claim that communities who live closer to refineries suffer higher death rates and higher cancer rates as a consequence of pollution.
The State of California and the officials of the County of Los Angeles have received a number of Environmental Impact Reports concerning the construction and use of two refineries and the expansion of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. None of the EIRs address the claims of adverse health conditions based on information on the ‘web’ and other published reports regarding the possibility of increased mortality and morbidity related to living at a location close to a refinery. You are an expert on community health assessment and have been asked to advise the Board on why some reports (such as those on the web) show increased disease and death rates while others do not.
For this Case Assignment submit a 3-5+ page paper in which you:
Characterize the health risks potentially associated with living near a refinery or a large harbor. (Focus primarily on the environmental health related health risks.)
Define and explain the difference between a scientific study and anecdotal reports (that is, those from reputable journals and organizations and those from newspapers, personal testimonies, and web postings).
Explain why the communities living close to refineries and/or the harbor/ports might actually experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality due to such confounders as age, race/ethnicity, social economic level, and access to care.
Discuss how Multi-Criteria Integrated Resource Assessment (MIRA) could change the decision-making process concerning plans for the refinery or port.