Click Below for

More on the

Following Topics:



Justice Timeline

Suggested Reading

On Delaware Bay

On Industry in Newark

On the Environmental

Justice Movement


Why Environmental Justice Matters Cosponsored by:


New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance





The Environmental Justice Movement


The history of the fight against environmental inequalities in New Jersey started with seemingly isolated cases like the Diamond Alkali lawsuit in Camden or the discovery of hazardous waste in Newark’s Ironbound community but soon became a state political issue with the introduction of the New Jersey Worker and Community Right to Know Act in 1983. This law, a result of citizen activism and state recognition of environmental problems, helped identify and publicize environmental hazards to protect people from

being unknowingly exposed to them. The



documents collected in this section and the NJCH sponsored forum Environment, Equity, & American History: Why Environmental Justice Matters show how stakeholders continue to change the course of the environmental movement in New Jersey. A major case resolved in 2011, when PPG Industries agreed to clean up one of the largest remaining sites contaminated with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium in New Jersey. Some of the photos in this section show how Superfund sites were discovered, exposed, and marked as part of the Right to Know process. The newspaper articles clearly demonstrate the media’s role as a watchdog on environmental issues. A 1982 letter to the New York Times, for example, explained how local governments could work with citizens to identify hazardous practices and sites. A report from 1990, questioned the role of the incinerator that the Port Authority proposed along with another article reviewing the Superfund sites’ cases and the obstacles in the process.

Why Environmental Justice Matters: Video Segments

Forum: Part 1

Forum: Part 2

Community Action

Historical Photos

1. The hazardous substance signs by EPA are reminiscent of the long-fought battle to

    pass the environmental right to know act, which was eventually passed in 1983 in

    New Jersey. Quanta Resources Superfund Site in Edgewater, New Jersey. http://epa.


2. Fracking was one of the most important environmental issues that people rallied

    against in Trenton in 2011. The protests postponed the construction of 20,000

    natural gas wells in the region.


3. Children's exposure to toxic chemicals while in school became a major problem in

    New Jersey as more schools were revealed to sit on old landfills and industrial sites.

4. Inman Sports Club site in Edison, New Jersey faced a similar environmental crisis to

    that of the urban schools, when toxic waste was discovered in the athletic field in



5. Under the surface of 900 Garfield Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey lie 700,000

    tons of chromium waste that has been present on the 16.6-acre site for more than 50

    years. The soil and groundwater is highly polluted as a result of this contamination. 

6. After a very long battle, PPG Industries agreed to clean-up one of the largest

    remaining sites, 900 Garfield Avenue, contaminated with cancer-causing hexavalent

    chromium in New Jersey.



7. Camden’s environmental degradation does not offer a healthy future for new

    generations in many neighborhoods.


Historical Documents

1. Michael Diamond, “'Eyes on the Environment' Can Stop Its Poisoners,” NY Times,

    13 December 1982

2. George James, “Waste Hauler Is Charged in Hazardous Dumping,” NY Times, 1 June


3. Jay Romano, “Port Authority's Incinerator Role Questioned,” NY Times, 25 February


4. Barnaby Feder, “In the Clutches of the Superfund Mess,” NY Times, 16 June


5. Iver Peterson, “New Jersey Is the Garbage State No More,” NY Times, 29 August


6. Steve Strunsky, “Air is Heavy with Pollution and Resentment,” NY Times, 28 May



7. Verlyn Klinkenborg, “Back to Love Canal,” Harper’s Magazine, March 1991