Ash Wednesday, the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ released a report
, and a suite of corresponding materials, about the 100 worst polluting industrial facilities in the United States. Ohio is home to eight of the so-called "Toxic 100," with five facilities bordering Lake Erie and one in Cuyahoga County.
UCC ministers, alongside researchers at the Environmental Integrity Project and allies in the environmental justice movement, unveiled the report at a press conference in Washington D.C. this morning. Its title, "Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution" is a reference to the biblical book of Isaiah and is intended to draw attention to the plight of people living in close proximity to these facilities, which are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all toxic emissions in the country.
“It is not an accident that we are releasing this report on Ash Wednesday, a day associated with repentance,” said the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice. “In its Greek origins, repentance was about turning around and changing course to go in a better direction. As a nation, it is time for us to go in a better direction for the sake of our children and communities across the country.”
Of the five northern Ohio facilities, Lorain County's BASF chemical facility ranks worst overall, (11 out of 100), based on toxic air emission data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For the study, researchers at the Environmental Integrity Project assigned greater weight to pollutants that are more toxic when inhaled.
In their analysis, researchers also recorded the number of total residents living within a mile of the facilities, the number of children and seniors, and the percentage of people of color and low-income residents.
Cuyahoga County's MPC Plating Inc. facility on E. 63rd ranks 68 out of 100 facilities overall, but is highest in Ohio in the concentration of people of color living nearby. Nearly 91 percent of residents within a mile of the Hough Facility are people of color and more than 70 percent are low-income.
Lake County's Bescast Inc. facility (#49), Sandusky's Whirlpool facility (#55)
and Ashtabula's Ineos Pigments USA facility (#71) round out the list of Ohio super polluters.
The report notes that the industrialized southeast coast of Lake Erie is a hotbed for toxic emissions, with 185 facilities that released 61.8 million tons of toxicity-weighted air pollution in 2018. An interactive map with information on all of the "Toxic 100" can be found here
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