An area adjacent to West Midtown and four other metro communities have more sources of pollution than anywhere else in the region, according to one Atlanta environmental advocacy group.
GreenLaw on Monday named its top five “environmental justice hotspots,” the areas where the correlation between race, poverty and pollution is strongest.
The area near Bellwood Quarry and Grove Park neighborhood was fourth on the list. Several other hotspot areas are located in and around Midtown.
"According to Atlanta’s Beltline plan, the 138 acre Bellwood Quarry, a central feature of the Grove Park neighborhood in northwest Atlanta, will be transformed into a park space twice the size of Piedmont Park,’’ David Deganian, the lead author of the report and an attorney at GreenLaw, wrote. “Today, however, Grove Park and its nearby environs contain 37 pollution points. Vulcan Materials Company has a water pollution permit for its operations at the Bellwood Quarry and more than a dozen air pollution points are located nearby. One of these points, the Perry Boulevard compressed natural gas (CNG) MARTA station, is the top violator in the block.”
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“This CNG site repeatedly violated its Clean Air Act permit in recent years,'' Deganian wrote in the report. "Nearby, the Woodall Creek site is designated by EPD as a Class I HSI site because four different toxics were released into groundwater. Class I sites are highly prioritized by EPD because of the potential magnitude of the hazardous release. This block has a large African American population and has both high housing values and high school graduation rates. At the same time, the area’s linguistic isolation rate and vacant housing rate are well above regional averages."
The analysis found that the metro area's most polluted areas have large low-income and "linguistically isolated" communities or a high percentage of minorities, according to PBA 30, Atlanta's PBS station.
A 2-mile stretch of Fulton Industrial Boulevard connecting Fulton, Cobb and Douglas Counties is the region's top pollution hotspot, followed by Canton, the border that separates DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties, Atlanta's Grove Park neighborhood, and central Douglas County.
Officials with GreenLaw said they hope Monday's report convinces lawmakers as well as other leaders to create policies and laws needed to curb toxics in vulnerable communities.
“Georgia has fallen behind,” GreenLaw executive director Justine Thompson said in a news release. “As states across the country strive to protect all of its citizens—regardless of race or economic status—from the health impacts of pollution, Georgia remains one of the only states in the nation with no mechanism to ensure equality in environmental decision-making.
“For Atlanta to remain a player in the global economy, we need to show the world that Atlanta takes care of the health and well-being of all of its residents.”
Along with the findings, GreenLaw unveiled a new website that allows people to type in an address and find out what pollution sources are in their communities.
- Read the study in its entirety: http://greenlaw.org/Files/GreenLaw/2012/PatternsofPollution,FINAL,GreenLaw3-26-2012.pdf
- Read the summary of the study: http://greenlaw.org/Files/GreenLaw/2012/GL-PPT-Pollution-ReportFinal.pdf
- Read the press release: http://greenlaw.org/Files/GreenLaw/2012/PressRelease3-26-12PatternsofPollutionGreenLaw.pdf
- Find out what pollution sources are in your community: www.greenlaw.org/patternsofpollution
- Rodney Thrash contributed to this story