The federal government has awarded the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control $160,000 to help communities that were unfairly exposed to environmental risks.
South Carolina is one of five states to receive a share of the $800,000 in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency money. The money focuses on a long-running problem that many people say should be corrected: poor people who were taken advantage of by industries' pollution. Residents of some communities say polluting companies located in their neighborhoods because it was easier than doing so in more affluent neighborhoods.
DHEC will use the award to study environmental problems in four communities. Communities would have to apply for the program, agency spokesman Thom Berry said. Alaska, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois were other states receiving a share of the environmental justice awards from the EPA.
"We've heard from communities who felt they have been unduly targeted because they were either low income or communities that have a large minority population," Berry said. "They feel as if there is undue pressure on their communities and their communities have been left behind as we progress as a state."
- Sammy Fretwell