Minority and low-income neighborhoods have always been disproportionately targeted by industries when deciding to locate hazardous waste sites primarily because they follow the path of least resistance. Poor people have far fewer resources and political clout, after all, so I am very glad that the people of Union Hill have organized to resist the pipeline compressor station. In a recent article, Jon Mueller, an attorney for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said that "it is the responsibility of the board to protect the approximately 200 residents — mostly African Americans — who live near the compressor station site from harmful emissions and from "unequal treatment." He said many of the residents have pre-existing health conditions that could be exacerbated by emissions from the station."
But there is another, much larger, population that still does not have a voice in the environmental decisions that will affect their lives and health. Buckingham Correctional Center is 10.5 miles from Union Hill and houses 1,100 prisoners. Dillwyn Correctional Center is 11.2 miles from Union Hill and houses 1,106 prisoners. There are also hundreds of staff working in these facilities. I just wish that, for once, prisoners would be viewed as worthy of environmental protection. They too have, or will have developed health conditions as prisons are a toxic environment in and of themselves, which will be exacerbated by emissions from the station. Also by including prison populations into the population factor, you can show even more risk. As somebody's son, father, partner or friend and, as residents of the state, their health should be considered as well.