The Polluted Newark Bay
My name is Alexandra and I am a graduate student at New Jersey Institute of Technology studying toward my Master of Science in Architecture with a focus on sustainability. Being a student studying in Newark, New Jersey for the past 5 years, I decided to focus my project on the environmental injustice there, specifically with a focus on contaminated water and the Newark Bay.
The Newark Bay is at the junction of where the Hackensack and Passaic rivers meet. It is around 5.5 miles long and is on the west end of Newark. For hundreds of years this body of water has been subjected to tons of toxic pollution from a variety of different pollutants possibly linked to industry. The pollutants and sediment cause serious health problems for the communities in these areas that rely on this Bay. In lower income and minority neighborhoods within the city of Newark, the citizens there had less of a voice when it came to big industry giants and their moves to put factories and industrial facilities within the area, discharging their waste during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into the Newark Bay. Not only did this affect the African American communities in the area with tainted water, but also it affected their wildlife and food production by the polluted water’s effect on fish populations. My goal is to investigate the ways in which this pollution occurred, industrial and non industrial and it’s effect on the local African American Communities. Some questions to consider would be, how did the development of industrial practices contribute to health impacts of African American and minority communities in Newark? Were there any other contributions besides industry that contributed to the polluted water like the Newark Sewer System? What steps are being taken to clean up the Bay now, any progress made? How do the demographics of Newark impact how the state and city government has handled the issue? What has been the legal side to this crisis?
Keywords: Race, African American, Class, Pollution, Water