The Ironbound is a “burdened community,” exposing residents to multiple sources of toxins at once. It houses the largest Superfund site in the US, the largest incinerator in the New York area, over 200 brownfields (contaminated sites), a facility that processes sewage from 3 million homes, and more than 14,000 trucks pass through daily.
Ironbound is a community of 50,000 residents—predominantly African Americans, immigrants, and non-native English speakers with little political sway. It likely got its name from the railroad tracks and bridges around its perimeter, which have served industries that generated wealth for corporate titans while polluting the environs.
For 50 years, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) has lead environmental justice and community mobilization. They blocked the building of several incinerators and fought for the designation of the Diamond Alkali plant as a Superfund site. ICC analyzes industrial permits, holds polluters accountable, and lobbies for green infrastructure.
Our Point of View
Before this class, most of us didn’t know what environmental justice was, let alone that we are located in an EJ community. This class was a wake-up call not only about the hazards of living in a burdened community, but also how our consumer society generates waste that is disproportionately dumped on low-income neighborhoods. Through first-hand reporting we gained a deep connection to the lived experience of people in the Ironbound, and we came to understand the systemic level of change that needs to happen in order to restore balance.
Race and income are the most likely indicators of whether someone lives near toxic waste. For 50 years, the Ironbound Community Corporation has been resisting that trend. We fight for the rights of local residents to clean water, air, and soil, as well as affordable housing and early childhood education. We are committed to Just Transition principles that honor the earth and move us away from an extractive economy. We joined forces with HAL and the students at Rutgers University–Newark to educate, inspire, and amplify our story.
—Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC)
—Greater Newark Conservancy
—New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance