Toxicology and Societies Speaker Series - Michelle Chow

Bellingham Waterfront, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Nick Kelly / Public Domain

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Title: The Environmental Injustice of Toxic Waste Sites

Toxic waste sites can be found almost everywhere across Washington State, but are overrepresented in communities of color and lower income neighborhoods. The fact that race and income can determine one’s proximity to hazardous waste is an environmental injustice, and a pattern seen throughout the US. In 1989, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) was implemented in Washington State to protect public health and reduce the exposure of toxic chemicals to human health and the environment. The law is responsible for preventing toxic pollution, involving the public in decision-making, and cleaning up sites contaminated with toxic, hazardous waste. MTCA is currently undergoing a ten-year rulemaking process to rewrite the policies and processes that guide the law – this process is a critical opportunity to finally address economic and racial disparities exacerbated by disproportionate proximity to toxic waste sites by incorporating equity and environmental justice frameworks into the rule. WEC sits on the Stakeholder and Tribal Advisory Group for this rulemaking, and we are using our position to advocate for stronger protections for communities of color and lower income communities.

Tune in to learn more about the disproportionate impacts of toxic waste sites on communities, Washington’s current efforts to integrate environmental justice into its policies and processes, and more.

About the Speaker: Michelle Chow, Washington Environmental Council

Michelle Chow (she/her) is the Stormwater and Toxics Policy Manager at Washington Environmental Council (WEC), a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization that has been driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges since 1967. In her current position, she advances policies and campaigns to reduce impacts from stormwater and other sources of toxics on water, wildlife, and people. She represents WEC on the Stakeholder and Tribal Advisory Committee for the Model Toxics Control Act Rulemaking, with a particular focus on integrating strong environmental protections with social justice. Previously, Michelle worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee under Chairman Grijalva as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences from the University of Washington where she studied the effects of urban stormwater runoff on Pacific salmon.

Registration for this event is closed, but you can watch the recorded presentation through the WWU alumni site.

February 25, 2021; 11 -12 pm (PST).

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