Highway Marker Commemorates PCB Landfill Protests

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WARRENTON- The illegal nighttime dumping of liquid contaminated with PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) in 14 rural North Carolina counties led to the creation of a landfill 30 years ago.  The choice of the site in rural Warren County sparked protests that gave birth to the environmental justice movement in America.  A N.C. Highway Historical Marker will be dedicated to that protest movement on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 8 a.m. at Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church at 224 Parktown Rd in Warrenton.


The PCB contaminated liquid had been discharged along 240 miles of roads by a trucking company paid by Ward Transformer Company in the summer of 1978.  The state of North Carolina was responsible for the clean-up and bought land from a financially distressed Warren County farm for the landfill, which opened in 1982.  The inexpensive land happened to be in one of the poorest counties in the state, and the county with the state's highest percentage of African American residents.


Local residents formed the Warren County Citizens Concerned About PCBs in response to the landfill proposal.  That group was joined by the United Church of Christ's Commission for Racial Justice, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and other prominent groups and individuals to protest the landfill.  In September 1982, approximately 500 protesters were arrested while trying to stop the trucks from delivering the PCB contaminated soil.  It was the first time opponents of a hazardous waste facility had been arrested for civil disobedience....

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