An estimated one in four Americans lives within 3 miles of a hazardous waste site. More than 47,000 hazardous waste sites potentially requiring cleanup actions and has been placed on some of the most seriously contaminated sites on its National Priorities List (NPL). Through the end of fiscal year 2007, EPA had classified 1,569 sites as NPL sites (U.S. GAO 2008). In the 2007, the Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty report found people of color make up the majority (56%) of those living in neighborhoods within two miles of the nation's commercial hazardous waste facilities, nearly double the percentage in areas beyond two miles (30%). People of color make up a much larger (over two-thirds) majority (69%) in neighborhoods with clustered facilities (Bullard et al. 2007). Between 70,000 to 80,000 chemicals are on the commercial market and hence in the environment with nearly six trillion pounds produced annually in the United States. Every year 1000 - 2000 new chemicals enter the market and consequently the environment (Kreisel, 1998). Neurotoxic chemicals are significant contributors to human health problems that result from environmental and work place chemical exposure (Donkin and Williams, 2000). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that exposure to neurotoxic chemicals is one of the 10 leading causes of work-related disease and injury and that over 25% of the chemicals for which the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has established threshold limit values (TLV) have demonstrated nervous system effects. Abandoned waste sites dot the urban landscape and pose elevated health risks to low-income and minority populations (Bullard 2000;Bullard et al. 2007). A 2005 Associated Press study found African Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger (Pace 2005). Using EPA's own data and government scientists, the AP found blacks in 19 states and Latinos in 12 states were more than twice as likely as whites to live in neighborhoods where pollution poses the greatest health danger. The EPA report. Cleaning Up the Nation's Waste Sites: Markets and Technology Trends 2004 Edition (U.S. EPA 2004), found more than 77,000 sites contaminated with hazardous waste and petroleum products, with up to 9,267 more discovered each year. By 2039, as many as 355,000 hazardous waste sites in the U.S. could require cleanup. Additionally, in its 2008-2012 Five Year Plan, the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates completing cleanup of 100 contaminated sites by 2025. Under current regulatory requirements and practices, an estimated 294,000 sites (range 235,000 - 355,000) in the seven market segments will need to be cleaned up. This estimate does not include sites where cleanup is completed or ongoing. More than 90 percent of these sites are in programs that tend to have relatively smaller, less-complex cleanup projects, such as the underground storage tank (UST) program (125,000 sites) and state voluntary and mandatory cleanup programs (150,000). In November 2009, Forbes Magazine ranked the Atlanta and Detroit Metropolitan areas as the first and second "worst polluted" cities on four measures: the number of superfund sites, the number of facilities reporting toxic releases, total pounds of toxic releases and a ranking based on the number of days in 2007 that overall air quality was at unhealthy levels (Levy 2009). The consortium training is designed to meet emerging threats and opportunities posed by challenges associated with changing climate, alternative energy sources, and rapidly penetrating new materials and technologies into global commerce. Increased concern surrounding climate change has increased our concern about more natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in 6-8 million gallons of petroleum released onto grounds and waterways from four major oil spills and 134 minor spills. This alone places New Orleans in the category of a heavily polluted major city. The consortium training focuses on legacy clean-up of hazardous wastes as well as training for the new "green" and clean-energy economy. New waste cleanup approaches focus on green assessment, green remediation and green construction. The clean-energy economy is projected to create new 'pathways out of poverty'for the 78 million people in the U.S. (roughly 25 percent of the population) who are presently poor or near-poor, and raise living standards more generally for low-income people in the United States. According to the University of Massachusetts, Green Prosperity: How Clean Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States report, investment in "green jobs" in a clean-energy economy, including weatherization, would produce 31,658 jobs, over 17,000 for metro Atlanta workers with high school degrees or less, and cut unemployment by over one percentage point (Pollin, Wicks-Lim, and Garnett-Peltier 2009). In 2009, more than $78.72 billion were allocated to clean energy and weatherization under the Recovery Act. Of this total, $50.7 million was allocated to Louisiana, $248 million in Georgia, $49.4 million in Mississippi, and $243 million in Michigan. The overall goal of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to reduce the burden of energy prices on the disadvantaged. In the Atlanta metropolitan area, homeowners and renters could save about 2 percent of their income by investing in retrofits. With most of the green jobs emerging in the construction sector, it is imperative that we systematically target training for low-income underserved populations or they will once again be left behind. In Atlanta, construction jobs are expected to increase by 15 percent for the city and 52 percent for the metro area by the year 2014. In 2007, while most of the region was declining in the number of building permits issued, the city of Atlanta had a 12 percent increase, revealing a continuous demand for skilled construction workers. In the Detroit metropolitan area, investment in a clean energy economy would produce 23,880 new jobs overall, with 11,312 jobs for workers with high school degrees or less. In the New Orleans metropolitan area, investment in a clean energy economy would produce 6,629 jobs, over 3,700 for workers with high school degrees or less, and cut unemployment by over one percentage point. As hazardous waste cleanup expands and intensifies, millions of individuals will spend a portion of their working lives in the hazardous waste cleanup process. Low-income and minority individuals with limited exposure to the world of work may lack the "soft skills" needed to get a job, stay employed, and advance. Minority and low-income communities have been disproportionately affected by environmental contamination. Although the environmental remediation industry is growing, few construction or environmental training has been targeted to community residents from these impacted communities. Without a focused effort to provide training to residents that live near these hazardous waste sites, there is little likelihood that minority workers will receive economic benefits from employment in the construction or environmental industry, thereby, perpetuating the lack of community involvement and participation in the clean-up and revitalization of urban areas. The documented needs, the history of successful collaboration among the members to develop/revise and evaluate curricula and establish policies to facilitate worker training, and the need for a sustained funding sources are the basis for this proposal. The consortium goes beyond the traditional approach to providing environmental health and safety training and will include: (1) basic skills training to address lack of basic academic skills, problem solving skills, and other employability skills such as "writing, critical thinking, decision-making, team-building, and life skills;(2) pre-apprenticeship training in the area of basic construction skills and environmental remediation training;(3) environmental awareness training;and, (4) community building. The consortium is becoming recognized as a resource in its geographical area. Continued NIEHS funding will provide a stable base to assure that core consortium personnel are available for outreach and the coordination of a cadre of personnel for program delivery.

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Dillard University
New Orleans
United States
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