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The Health Inequities of Race and Proximity to Toxic Industry in Nova Scotia

NSPIRG launches new web site on environmental justice and environmental racism in Nova Scotia

by Candice Cascanette


For several years, the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG) has been offering support to residents of Lincolnville in their fight against the building of a second landfill within a few kilometres of their community. The facility was approved and built by the municipality of Guysborough despite opposition and concerns expressed by locals.

The waste from 17 different municipalities is dumped into this facility daily. Lincolnville residents have become increasingly concerned with all the cadmium, phenol and toluene in their surface and groundwater. What concerns residents even more are all the chemicals that haven't been tested for.

Sackville's landfill makes for an interesting comparison, as it was closed a number of years ago because of the community's concerns. The residents were given compensation and the site was moved. The difference, some argue, is that Lincolnville is predominantly African Nova Scotian, while Sackville is not.

Lincolnville residents, NSPIRG and other supporters have called out the province on environmental racism: the intentional situating of hazardous waste sites, landfills, incinerators and polluting industries in and around communities inhabited mainly by people of African and First Nations decent.

Another example of environmental racism is the toxic water waste being pumped into Boat Harbour from the Abercrombie Pulp Mill. It has burdened the Mi’kmaq community of Pictou Landing First Nation since 1967. The harbour water is now contaminated ,and despite the province’s failed promises to clean up Boat Harbour, the residents of Pictou Landing are still seeking environmental justice.

Professor Heather Castleden from Dalhousie's School of Resource and Environmental Studies has received two grants to help the Pictou Landing Native Women's Association study the impact of Boat Harbour's contaminated water on the health of its community.

This fall, NSPIRG is launching a new web site that looks at environmental justice and environmental racism in Nova Scotia. The site will feature an interactive map that shows the proximity of First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities to toxic industry and hazardous waste across the province. It will also offer a forum where community members affected by environmental racism can record testimonies and share firsthand accounts of the impacts of toxic industry on the health of their communities.

This site is the beginning stage of a more extensive research project looking at epidemiological and health-related effects of toxic industries close to Mi'kmaq and Indigenous Black communities.

Stay tuned for the launch of the site environmentaljustice.nspirg.org this September.  


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