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Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution in the Steel City,

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Presentation on theme: "Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution in the Steel City,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution in the Steel City, 1945-50.
Key: In the 1940s NO-ONE escaped the pollution from the steel plants, though it was certainly experienced variably according to race, class and particular pollutant. You should know the lakeshore environment that was remade in the process of producing Gary and the social and ecological reasons it was a good place for steel production.

2 Gary’s “Natural” Ecology- 1900
Only thirty miles… [from Chicago], swamps and dunes still dominated the landscape…. [S]and mounds hugged the lakeshore, giving way to a series of shorter sand ridges further inland. Marshes, lagoons, and swamps filled the intervening depressions…. [A] diverse animal population that included wolves, ducks, and bald eagles. … [T]he Grand Calumet and the Little Calumet, meandered through the region, sustaining a varied fish population. [A] few scattered farming villages, marked the only human imprint on this section of northwest Indiana. (16)

3 Gary’s Social Ecological Location
Was ideal for plant construction and the transportation of both raw materials and finished products. Abundant land allowed sufficient room for steel mills and subsidiary manufacturing plants. If the company required additional space, it could extend the shoreline by filling the lake. Steelmaking demanded vast amounts of water for cooling; Lake Michigan furnished an endless supply. Moreover, the lake provided a water route to the rich Mesabi ore fields in Minnesota, while existing railway lines connected the site with eastern coalfields and midwestern steel markets. (17)

4 Gary and its sprawl In 1906 the corporation supervised the building of a city to house its workers. But as Gary's population swelled from 10,000 in 1908 to over 110,000 by the outbreak of World War II, urban development shifted toward Gary's outskirts, filling in areas that had once been woodlands, swamps, and dunes.

5 New Industrial Landscape
Altered Shoreline Built a boat harbor, cut a ship canal, filled in land extending the coastline 700 feet further into the lake. The flood prone Grand Calumet River was moved one-quarter of a mile to the south and confined it to a straight channel. The duneland terrain was leveled by removing 12 million cubic yards of sand and draining swamps on proposed factory sites. U.S. Steel had replaced thousands of acres of dunes and marshes with concrete foundations, steel buildings, heavy machinery, and fiery furnaces.

6 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution II.
Gary Works coke plant Gary Sheet and Tin American Bridge Cement Plant Smaller steel products manufacturers all companies recycled… when it made economic sense… and polluted when it didn’t matter

7 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution II.
What is slag? Generated at 1 million tons per year. Used to fill the lake to extend industrial production. Still, huge quantities of slag had to be disposed of elsewhere... So the company took advantage of the plentiful swampland along the lakefront by using it as a repository for much of this refuse. Slag, and other wastes were discarded in vacant pits and lagoons scattered throughout the property. (16-17) Finishing mill “scales” were mixed with lubricants to get them into natural, now waste, lagoons. Cleaning acids as they lost effective strength were washed into pits, rivers and the lake. Cement --> dust and particulates in remarkable quantities. KEY: However, [s]mokestacks and pipes carried most of the wastes beyond the company's borders into the community's air and water. (17)

8 From East to West… Coke Ovens (coal  coke)
Plus Sintering Plant (iron ore + metallurgical dust) Into Blast Furnaces Then into Open Hearth Furnaces Then into Ingot Molds Then into Ingot Strippers Then into Soaking Pits Then into Primary Mills Then into Finishing Mills

9 Broken Link to The Picture Slide Show
Well… the link didn’t seem to work. If you want to review the pictures of Gary during the early years, go back to the syllabus and click on the link “PicturesofGary.ppt)

10 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution IV.
All steps generated chemical, particulate and heat pollution “Pollution impaired health, damaged property and forced adjustments in daily behavior… Although few escaped the deleterious effects of industry’s environ-mental tampering, individuals’ experiences with the industrial environmental varied considerably…. Yet social background did not always predict exposure levels to pollution.” (22) “In a 43-point rating system, on-the-job exposure to acids, fumes, and dirt was worth less than one point. Skill and training, on the other hand, counted for much more and largely determined an individual’s wage.” (23)

11 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution V.
“Within the mills… a distinct pattern emerged… linking environmental exploitation with income, ethnicity, and race. Whites with northern European backgrounds working in management and skilled craft positions attained the greatest insulation from hazardous wastes and received the highest wages. More recent European immigrants occupied a middling position; benefiting from upward mobility, they concentrated in semi-skilled production jobs that paid moderately and involved some exposure to noxious waste emissions. Blacks and Mexicans fared the worst, earning the least and laboring under the harshest conditions….” (25)

12 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution VI.
“Except for Jews and African Americans, rigid barriers did not segregate the social lives of Gary’s various ethnic groups and classes. Yet, income and cultural preferences did, in effect, separate the population into discrete cells of social activity.” (25) “Unlike water and air, land was privately owned and stationary. Once industry purchased a site, others rarely made competing claims on the property.” (36) Once residency patterns were set, exposure to pollution was set as well…

13 Pollution and Residency
Airborne wastes caused long- term health problems as well. Coke ovens released carcinogenic gases, while lead, cadmium, manganese, nickel, beryllium, and chromium discharges caused ailments ranging from hypertension to lung cancer. Thus, north side residents, particularly those clustered around the downtown area, encountered the greatest health risks associated with air pollution, often facing more danger than steelworkers inside the mills, who tended to be younger and healthier. (27)

14 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution VII.
While neighborhoods were segregated by ethnicity, class, and marital status, there was a fairly even distribution of kinds of neighborhoods within the city during the first 30 years of so fo the city’s history “Thus, in contrast to the situation at the workplace, where race and class largely determined exposure to pollutants, the burdens of industrial resource use generally fell evenly across Gary’s residential communities.” (37)

15 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution VIII.
Gary and its neighborhoods – map on 27. Impoverished South side. Elite North Side/Horace Mann. Later, suburban Glen Park Miller The key is that Blacks maintained a multi-class, highly polluted residential pattern because of segregation -- improved economically by income/unions, but worsened environmentally by restrictive deed covenants, etc.

16 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution IX.
Polluted Grand Calumet/Lake Michigan/Dunes Devastated Fisheries Dangerous drinking water, esp. from wells The key to the nature-jobs trade-off then becomes the post-WWII/Cold War “gentlemen’s agreement” between labor and capital… so long as productivity goes up wages go up and people with higher wages can escape the worst economic and ecological problems. Unions bought into this idea, but, being relatively “blind” to race, the rising tide failed to float African-American boats and this led, in part, to the civil rights movement.

17 Ch.2 The Perils of Pollution IX.
“In contrast to most white citizens, Gary's African Americans encountered more limited residential options as discriminatory housing practices kept them confined to the Midtown district, located in the center of the city. (30) However, “through the 1940s, neither class, race, nor ethnicity served as a very reliable predictor of residential exposure to dirty air. (31) Residence, however, was not the only social activity that brought individuals into contact with air pollution. Most people spent a great deal of time away from their homes. Where Garyites worked, shopped, worshiped, went to school, and played also determined exposure to air-borne wastes. The primacy of downtown Gary to social life tended to offset any environmental inequalities resulting from more dispersed residential patterns.

18 Ironic Environmental Inequality
The key is that: “The only significant portion of the population that rarely ventured downtown was Gary's black community. A racially segregated consumer culture confined African Americans to the Midtown neighborhood for virtually all social functions. Whereas whites lived in neighborhoods throughout the city and congregated downtown, blacks lived in Midtown, shopped in Midtown, and pursued leisure activities in Midtown. Midtown had incrementally better air than Downtown… but equally as bad water.

19 In the 1960s, civil rights (on one side of one side of this bargain) and environmentalism (on another side of one side of this bargain) make this agreement as much of a problem as a good thing. Government-industry, politics/patronage, union wage-only demands – “Given this political context, the only acceptable environmental reform measures were those that imposed no burden on private enterprise.” (39-40)

20 CONCLUSION What’s the key here?
It is that while class hierarchies and racism are inherent parts of environmental issues, intimately connected with one another and yet not encompasses each other, the uneven history of environmental inequality suggests that the kinds of injustices in ecological and human health that we know today are not necessarily those of the past. If today’s injustices are recent “inventions” then it is more likely that we can do something to reverse these trends than it would be if these tendencies were true of all time (and in all places.) This means that we can’t just throw up our hands and say, “There’s nothing I/we can do, it has always been this way…”

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