The thesis for one of our Watts Neighborhood Council Board Members, Ashley Hansack exposes how authorities have described the environmental toxics at Jordan Downs as benign, harmless or nonexistent. Greater transparency on the potential health risks might bring about a different development result. The existing communication pattern perpetuates environmental inequalities, inspite of HACLA’s interest in disrupting cycles of disinvestment and marginalization.
“Furthermore, although it may not be intentional, key stakeholders also justify the presence of these environmental toxics and praise their planned cleanup efforts by explaining how polluted Watts is overall and how the levels of toxics found in Jordan Downs are similar to levels found in other parts in Los Angeles. Instead of focusing on how to address the dangerous nature of the toxics in this particular community, key stakeholders use comparison referents to belittle the harmful nature of toxics in the community. By defending these environmental hazards, representatives from HACLA and DTSC also unintentionally perpetuate the vicious cycle of social pollution that makes it okay for disadvantaged communities to bear the greatest brunt of environmental hazards. The fact that it is socially acceptable that Watts and Jordan Downs are highly contaminated communities reaffirms this idea that they are “appropriately polluted spaces”…”
Part of her conclusion: Overall, I suggest that the disconnect between the environmental toxics found on the site and the way they are being communicated to the public stems from the faulty interpretation and reporting of these results, rather than faulty testing. This shows that in order to begin to address the problems of environmental toxics, HACLA needs to revisit the data from the initial testing, instead of using resources to conduct new test.