Oil Spills: A Persistent Problem
This chapter provides a personal account of how social scientists can play a positive role in helping victims of environmental crime in their communities. It presents a seven-year case study of how working with local grassroots activists in an environmental justice community in Corpus Christi, Texas has yielded a litany of successes. According to the Environmental Integrity Project, Corpus Christi is home to two of the most polluting oil refineries in the nation. In 2000, a new grassroots environmental justice organization was formed, Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ). CFEJ was challenged to provide research and data that supported its claims that people were suffering from exposure to toxic pollution in the Hillcrest community. As a result of CFEJ's efforts, particularly the work of founder Suzie Canales, several studies were undertaken that supported residents' claims of toxic exposure. In 2006, a federal grand jury in Corpus Christi, Texas, returned a 10-count indictment charging CITGO Petroleum Corporation.