Thursday, July 29, 2021

EPA: Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area Community Advisory Group Wins Superfund Community Excellence Award

On July 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the selection of the
Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area Community Advisory Group for Excellence in Community Involvement for this year’s Superfund Notable Achievement Awards. 

The ELDCA CAG-- in Delaware and Philadelphia counties-- was the only group in the country selected for this award this year.

“Your outstanding commitment to honest communication with EPA to see the Superfund process succeed in your community speaks volumes to the hard work and dedication you all have poured into advocating for the interests of Eastwick,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Acting Regional Administrator Diana Esher. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the CAG to ensure that the cleanup of the Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site benefits the whole community while protecting human health and the environment. Congratulations and well done!”

This award recognizes the strength, persistence, and resilience of community leaders for their dedication in furthering the interests of the Eastwick community to address long-standing concerns about contamination from the Clearview Landfill in their community.

The Lower Darby Creek Area (LDCA) Site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 2001. This flood prone, bucolic community surrounded by the heavily developed and industrialized section of Southwest Philadelphia, is home to the largest urban renewal project in U.S. history.

Throughout the 1950’s and ‘60’s, the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia displaced over 8,600 people from their homes, and in the process dismantled one of Philadelphia’s only racially integrated communities at that time. 

A history of flooding, toxic dumping, and heavy industry made Eastwick an environmentally vulnerable neighborhood.

Eastwick leaders approached EPA in 2015 seeking to establish the ELDCA CAG to advocate for the needs of Eastwick residents’ concerns about contamination from the Clearview Landfill. 

Prior to the CAG formation, several community groups were actively communicating with EPA about overlapping issues.

During its six-year existence, the CAG has met monthly. The predictability and consistency of CAG meetings coupled with transparent communications have resulted in a positive and productive relationship between EPA and the community.

Since its inception, the CAG has shown unwavering leadership, innovation, and a willingness to work with both EPA and the community to achieve progress toward Site cleanup success. 

Together, the site team and the CAG have become adept when identifying issues, community needs, and quickly disseminating information.

The CAG has effectively leveraged EPA resources through EPA’s Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) program. An environmental consulting firm that works with the CAG’s technical working group and a TAG recipient sits on the CAG as an “expert resource.” 

Experts from the University of Pennsylvania also serve as CAG members to provide health and geological information.

The CAG’s commitment was evident while dealing with personal property damage due to flood damage from Tropical Storm Isaias. They devoted the time to organize and participate in virtual meetings on short notice with EPA staff and local elected officials, and effectively utilized EPA resources to educate and meet the ever-changing needs of the Eastwick community.

Visit the Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area Community Advisory Group website to learn more about their activities.

For more information, visit EPA’s Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site webpage.

(Photo: Advisory Group meeting + Map of Clearview Landfill area by the University of Pennsylvania Center of Excellence In Environmental Toxicology.)

[Posted: July 29, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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