Dr. Reverend Horace Strand
Dr. Reverend Horace Strand from the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP) is the driving force for environmental justice in Chester. Rev. Strand represents Chester on our Stakeholder Advisory Board. In the early 1990s, Rev. Strand of the Faith Temple Church founded Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Living (CRCQL) to address the numerous environmental hazards that the people of Chester faced on a daily basis. He lead his group to block the permitting of new hazardous waste facilities in Chester and in doing so became a national figure in the suit Chester v Seif, PA DEP that went to the US Supreme Court, firmly establishing Chester as an Environmental Justice Community.
In 2005, recognizing a greater potential to improve health and environment through cooperative action, Rev. Strand founded the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP). As a founding member of the CEP, CEC plays a vital funding and environmental health advisory role in this broad-based organization with representation from the community, Chester City Government, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), USEPA Region III, local solid waste incineration facilities, businesses, local churches, non-profit organizations, Swarthmore College, Widener University, Crozer-Chester Hospital, and a number of developers.
After undergoing a period of urban blight, Chester is now on the rebound. Presently, Chester has a high concentration of industrial facilities, a number of waste-processing plants, substantial traffic from the I-95 interstate highway, and port traffic. The majority of solid waste for Delaware County (population 563,402) and surrounding areas is incinerated in Chester, and a large percentage of raw sewage and associated sludge is treated in Chester.
Many Chester residents live in very old housing stock which results in environmental exposures, such as poor indoor air quality, lead, mold, pesticides, and safety concerns.
Despite persistent environmental health challenges, Chester is widely perceived as turning the corner. In September 2013, Chester welcomed its first supermarket in 12 years. Private and public funds have been made available for development, providing opportunities to improve environmental health and Brownfield remediation projects continue. New facilities are being located in Chester like a Major League Soccer Stadium constructed with major funding ($47 Million) from the State of Pennsylvania.
Chester residents express concerns about the health effects of living and working amid toxic substances, and complain about frequent illness, which they perceive as likely associated with environmental factors.
CEC Activities within Chester
Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP)
The CEC is a long-time and active member of the CEP. Our collaboration with the CEP takes on many forms. On an ongoing basis, we provide environmental health expertise on various health and environmental justice issues. Our activities include discussions with industry and regulatory agencies on permit violations and policies that influence public health risk for vulnerable populations in the community. Through CEET’s educational programs, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate and Undergraduate students participate in educational and research initiatives to better characterize the causes for health disparities in Chester and provide recommendations to CEP on next steps towards their resolution.
Save Your Soles Campaign
Dr. Ron Renzi, a podiatrist practicing in the Philadelphia area for over 26 years has been hosting an annual foot screening event in Chester City for diabetic residents. Diabetes can lead to poor circulation of extremities, and if left untreated could lead to amputation. This campaign has been in partnership with the CEP, and held at Chester city hall, annually for six years. African American men are four times as likely to suffer an amputation due to diabetes complications than white males. 1 in 1000 residents of Chester will have an amputation. Dr. Renzi’s engagement and service have allowed hundreds of residents to receive preventative care over the years. In 2019, Dr. Renzi was honored by the CEP for his exceptional service to the community.
Learn more about Dr. Renzi here.
Watch a video about the Save Your Soles campaign here.
Chester Boys and Girls Club
The CEC collaborated with the Chester Boys and Girls Club to bring to talk about environmental injustice and its impact on health. Students expressed their experience and concerns about health disparities in their community through art. A small group of 11th and 12th-grade youth at the Chester Boys and Girls Club worked together to develop an environmental health equity quilt for submission to the National Academy of Medicine art showcase. The quilt was accepted to a permanent online gallery which can be viewed here: https://visualizehealthequity.netlify.com/#/artwork/127
The quilt is temporarily on display at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and will next be given to the Chester Boys and Girls Club.
Pediatric Asthma Task Force of Delaware County
The CEC is an active member of the Pediatric Asthma Task Force of Delaware County where our goal is to reduce the high prevalence of asthma in Chester and the surrounding communities. The CEC provides educational resources on asthma, air pollution, and air quality alert resources to the Pediatric Asthma Task Force’s summer asthma camp and community programs.
Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane
On March 1st, 2019, CEC Director Marilyn Howarth, was on WHYY to talk about the health effects of burning recyclables. This was in response to recent changes in how American recyclables are processed. With China currently not accepting the same amount of recyclables, America has to deal with its plastics locally. Unfortunately, the cost to recycle in the US is higher so some recycling is being sent with trash to municipal waste incinerators. Chester, a community already burdened by cumulative sources of industrial air emissions, is receiving more recyclables at its energy-from-waste facility. Concerns about possible health implications led to this Radio Times episode.
As part of the TREES and STEER summer mentorship programs, high school, and college students visit Chester, attend a CEP meeting and have a small group discussion with Rev. Strand on environmental justice issues.
|High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2012-2016||79.3%||89.5%|
|Bachelor’s degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2012-2016||10.3%||29.3%|
|Housing units, 2015||13,745||5,602,813|
|Homeownership rate, 2012-2016||37.3%||69.0%|
|Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2012-2016||$167,700||$66,800|
|Persons per household, 2010-2014||2.62||2.49|
|Per capita income in the past 12 months (2016 dollars), 2012-2016||$14,991||$30,137|
|Median household income
( 2016 dollars), 2012-2016
|Persons below poverty level, percent, 2015||36.9%||12.9%|
|Land area in square miles, 2010||4.84||44,742.7|
|Persons per square mile, 2010||7,020.5||283.9|
In the Media:
Too Much Pollution for One Place: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/earth/too-much-pollution/