East Chicago (see below)
At the beginning of the industrial era, towns like East Chicago and Marktown were booming steel towns with a bright future. However, this was short-lived and short-sighted as the monumental amounts of pollution and degradation of the environment took their toll. East Chicago in Indiana is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the country. It is a real shame that this bio-diversity became set upon by the major refineries along the Great Lakes such as the refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Now this land is extremely unhealthy to live in. The most recent stories are of incredible amounts of lead in the soil and drinking water in East Chicago.
There is a real crisis in areas like this. On the one hand, the refinery in Whiting presents the community with almost all of the stable jobs in the area. But this is a toxic relationship. These jobs are serving an industry which is the very root of the undoing of this community. In addition, the rights of these workers are always being trampled upon. There have been numerous strikes at the Whiting, Indiana plant calling for less harsh working conditions but these demands have been largely ignored.
This is another example of Environmental Injustice. Since East Chicago and Marktown are relatively low-income neighborhoods, their needs are largely ignored by the local and federal government. In a civilized world where justice is actually enacted, these hard-working people would be rewarded with a Just Transition program that would offer a stable income and job re-training so that the workers could be re-trained in the clean, sustainable energy industry and there could be hope for their families and for the future. As it is, these hard-working families in this area, often under-educated about the environmental issues and long-term health hazards, will continue to be exploited until the time when a compassionate government is instituted, a more cooperative (instead of competitive) economic system evolves, or the people rise up and take the future into their own hands.
One organization working on this issue is 350 Indiana-Calumet.
This page last updated on 8/20/17.