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. To learn more about US EPA’s ongoing remediation work at these landfills, click here for Clearview and here for Folcroft.
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).
Eastwick 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, designed and disseminated materials on flooding risks, 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.
Philadelphia Inquirer VIDEO:
Fear of contamination looms after floods in Southwest Philadelphia (8/14/2020)
In August 2020, Tropical Storm Isaias came through Philadelphia and caused water flooding in low-lying areas and displaced more than 300 people in the region. Eastwick was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city. Residents say it was the worst flood since Hurricane Floyd more than 20 years ago.
CEC Director, Dr. Marilyn Howarth, spoke on the flooding and its affects on local pollution to the Philadelphia Inquirer, stating, “We really feel as though the city has not put in the effort in a way that will truly protect [the Eastwick residents]… We think with climate change there will be more of these very large downpour events and cause these problems much more often.”