Site Description

Preliminary Paper Title

The Water of One City, Two Different Worlds: The Study of Water Quality of Perth Amboy’s Historic Yacht Club and Oil Refinery

Author Biography

I am a senior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I am a double major in History (B.A.) and Law, Technology & Culture (B.A.). I am interested in studying Perth Amboy because I have spent many years driving through the city in order to get to my own home in another town. During my commute, I see the oil refinery for myself and its close proximity to residences and businesses. I am naturally intrigued by the two different sites of the yacht club and the oil refinery in Perth Amboy and I wanted to learn more of their water quality and any potential community organizing efforts that have influenced the current states of these two locations.

Site Description

My two sites are located apart from each other but have very important implications to the city of Perth Amboy. My first site is the Raritan Yacht Club, a site that is located southbound of the city whereas the Chevron Oil Refinery is located more in the northern part of Perth Amboy. A quick Google Maps search reveals that the quickest drive between Point A and Point B is seven minutes. Both places are historic as well, considering that the Raritan Yacht Club was officially organized in 1882 while the Chevron Oil Refinery was built in the 1920s. While the oil refinery was being built, and possibly began to impose health hazards to those nearby, the Raritan Yacht Club was active in organizing events for its Raritan Bay Yacht Racing Association. Already, the disparate environments and its influence on surrounding populations are palpable. However, my research will focus upon the present day water quality of the two different areas and whether such quality is different because of the different demographics that occupy these areas.

Historical Questions

How does the varying water quality and potentially community organizing efforts reflect an environmentally classist issue observed in the historic locations of the Raritan Yacht Club and the Chevron Oil Refinery?

This is an important question that continues to make itself relevant to me considering I am shocked at how physically close these two different “worlds” are. Although I haven’t done thorough research on the actual water quality, I realize that the Raritan Yacht Club prides itself on its activity that has continued from the past to the very present, and that any environmental issues that can undermine their prestige would probably be addressed promptly. Meanwhile, the Chevron Oil Refinery is located right by a bustling ShopRite grocery store, apartment buildings, and the Victory Bridge that connects “south central Jersey” to “central Jersey.” I wonder if residents have vocalized their concern and distaste for these numerous oil barracks that are too close to their homes and businesses.

Project Significance

Environmental injustice does not materialize randomly and affect a neighborhood overnight. There are links that explain the association between classism and discrepancies of environmental conservationism and I believe that my research of the Raritan Yacht Club and the Chevron Oil Refinery will serve as another example of such an association. The Raritan Yacht Club is very proud of its rich history and so if the water is in fact affected by the oil refinery, I suspect, that its community would rally together to protect its area. On the other hand, in regards to the Chevron Oil Refinery, it is a plant that has existed for approximately a hundred years. Thus, it has imposed great impact upon the water and the nearby residents for generations. It does not come as a surprise that this Oil Refinery is located in a lower-income area. I am studying these two areas to draw upon potentially different community responses to conserve and protect their areas. Such research can successfully conclude that disparities of wealth lead not only to disparities of environmental protection but also disparities of potentially governmental and policy advocacy.

Keywords

class, toxics, water, community, business