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.
COEC 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 COEC 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 COEC 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 COEC 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.