In 1991, Lawrence Summers, at the time chief economist of the World Bank, shocked the world and touched off an international firestorm when his confidential memorandum on waste trade was leaked. Summers wrote: “ ‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [less developed countries]?” Between 1989 and 1994, an estimated 2,611 metric tons of hazardous waste was exported from OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) to non-OECD countries, according to Robert Bullard of Clark Atlanta University, an environmental justice expert. Standard Oil’s Gift to Richmond, California
For more than 100 years, Black people have lived next door to the booming Chevron Richmond Refinery built by Standard Oil, a plant so huge it can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Hundreds of tanks holding millions of barrels of raw crude dot 2,900 acres of property on a hilly peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay in Richmond, California. Five thousand miles of pipeline there move gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other chemical products. Decades of toxic emissions from industries — as well as lung-penetrating diesel particles spewed by truck routes and rail lines running next door to neighborhoods — may be taking a toll on residents’ health. The people of Richmond, particularly African-Americans, are at significantly higher risk of dying from heart disease and strokes and more likely to go to hospitals for asthma than other county residents.