Eastwick is a community located in Southwest Philadelphia that borders the Clearview Landfill. This landfill operated from the 1950s to the 1970s and reportedly accepted municipal, demolition and hospital wastes. Waste disposal practices contaminated soil, groundwater and fish tissue with hazardous chemicals. The Clearview Landfill and the Folcroft Landfill, located in Delaware County, make up the Lower Darby Creek Area superfund site. This site was added to the National Priority List in June 2001.
In the last three years, two major “100 year floods” of Darby Creek have inundated a substantial portion of the community, potentially mobilizing toxic substances from a National Priority List (“Superfund”) site that is located just upstream in an adjacent county. There is also concern about the environmental health impacts of emissions from a petroleum refinery, from the Philadelphia Airport, air pollution from traffic associated with major postal distribution center and two major freeways (I-95 and I-76).
South Philadelphia residents believe that their area has increased cancer rates due to their environmental exposures. Many of the citizens also suffer from asthma and pulmonary related diseases.
CEC Activities in Eastwick
Our principal community partner is the Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area Community Advisory Group (ELDCA CAG). The ELDCA established its CAG to both inform residents of the Eastwick community about the progress of the clean up of the Clearview Landfill Superfund site and provide residents with the opportunity to voice concerns and provide input to the process. The CEC has assisted the CAG to identify community health concerns related to the remediation project, develop and implement communication strategies by creating community health surveys, and has also provided environmental health expertise at community meetings. In addition to these efforts, the CEC has helped facilitate presentations to community members on raised bed gardening, and designed and maintained the CAG website. In collaboration with CEET researchers, U Penn and Temple graduate students have also worked on investigating community health concerns, and have presented these results to the CAG.
The Southwest Community Development Corporation, headed by Donna Henry, who is also a member of our Stakeholder Advisory Board, is another community partner that represents the broader Southwest Philly community.
The CEC is also advising EPA to develop a protocol for investigating polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) related health risk to potential Superfund exposures currently occurring Eastwick.
In 2015, Earl Wilson, a member of the ELDCA CAG, was featured in a short documentary titled: Eastwick in the Middle: Organizing for Environmental Justice. The 14-minute video dives into the community’s issues with flooding and environmental justice.
In the fall of 2017, members of the Eastwick Community Advisory Group informed residents about the progress of the Clearview Landfill clean up at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Philly Fall Nature Fest. Photos
In the summer of 2018, CEC partnered with the Center for Public Health Initiatives and the Penn Netter Center for Community Partnerships to take Philadelphia high school students interested in health professions to learn more about public health concepts at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. The students learned about water pollution through hands-on and field-based activities.
The CEC continues to build a partnership with the Eastwick community, engaging with them in dialogue, research and conservation. We work closely with the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition and Eastwick Community Advisory Group, helping them advocate for responsible runoff reduction in local construction projects and communicating the ongoing remediation work of the clearview landfill . Furthermore, fellows have collected oral histories for an archive collective to record Eastwick’s past. Additionally, in the spring of 2017, the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology ran three focus groups including one in Eastwick, to gauge the level of water health literacy in Philadelphia. We look forward to furthering this important relationship to help foster responsible water use in years to come.
CEET Director, Dr. Trevor Penning, describes community and individual susceptibility to diseases through the lens of environmental exposures and human gene interaction in a concept called phenomics. Learn more about this method of human health assessment with Eastwick as an example Eastwick and phenomics.