Environmental Justice

Environmental justice (EJ) is based on the principle that all people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution, and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. In many cases, low-income communities have been denied this right. They have been burdened with a disproportionate number of polluting industries that have polluted the ground, air and water.

Salem, an historic industrial city, is an EJ community that continues to host polluting industries. The coal-fired Dominion power plant is one of the region’s biggest polluters.

Of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns, 108 have an EJ population. Salem is one of only 20 cities/towns that meets all four of the EJ population criteria:

  • Median annual household income is at or below 65% of the statewide median income;
  • 25% or more of the residents are a minority;
  • 25% or more of the residents are foreign born; or
  • 25% or more of the residents are lacking English language proficiency.

SAFE works has worked with local organizations including North Shore Community Development CoalitionNorth Shore Community Action Programs, and the Point Neighborhood Association to address environmental toxins in our neighborhoods. We are also allied with ACE (Alternatives for Community & Environment–building power for environmental justice.)

Learn more about the state’s environmental justice programs.

The US Environmental Protection Agency  is also documenting and assisting EJ communities.  Visit the Salem page.