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Cooperative Agreements to Support Communities Affected by the BP Oil Spill

EPA awarded nine cooperative agreements totaling $300,000 to local non-profit community-based organizations located in the Gulf Region. These projects will support the protection of human health and the environment in communities affected by the BP oil spill.

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Project Descriptions

Alabama Costal Foundation will create a workshop series dedicated to translating multi-media scientific data (including air, water, and sediment and fish tissue) into plain language. The objective is for citizens, especially those in underserved communities that are most impacted by the oil spill, to be able to understand the value and importance of monitoring the air, water and soil. This project will benefit the community by:

  • Translating of scientific information into plain language communications materials that explain the environmental sampling and monitoring data collection conducted related to the oil spill
  • Developing information and tools needed to make sound decisions regarding water quality, air quality and seafood safety through the creation and distribution of a “Citizen’s Guide to Understanding Sampling and Monitoring Data After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill”

Enhancing ability of Gulf Coast residents to make informed decisions regarding water quality, air quality and seafood safety by providing residents educational workshops on how data is collected, how to read data results and where to locate sampling data collected by various state and federal agencies.

Bayou Land Resource Conservation & Development Council will develop educational fact sheets, multi-media materials and workshop training modules to teach Gulf Coast residents the proper method of identifying, collecting, and propagating native plants. This project will benefit the community by:

  • Building a collaborative, open-access, community-driven resilience campaign that will offer citizens a means to take an active role in the recovery of the Gulf coastline
  • Increasing knowledge and understanding of the importance of native wetland plants for holding and capturing the sediments needed for land-building and wetland stability, filtering pollutants from the watershed and providing nursery habitat for local biota, such as fish, crabs and shrimp
  • Identifying, collecting, propagating and potentially distributing native plant species to the larger coastal community

Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE) will create educational material conveying the findings of the community monitoring research in plain language. These findings, which will come from CATE’s testing of water, sediment, and soil for PAHs, alkylated homologues, and TPH (oil range organics) using standard EPA methods, will be distributed and discussed at community workshops and meetings. CATE will document the contamination that people and the environment are being exposed to and include details on their health effects. The information will empower our residents to become more actively involved in the environmental issues surrounding the BP oil spill disaster. CATE will also host various speakers from their coalition partners to highlight other aspects of the BP oil spill. Following those workshops, CATE plans to hold a strategic community meeting to discuss planning for a campaign to partner with local authorities, the EPA, and corporate polluters responsible for the contamination. The workshops and the strategic meeting will focus on the specific public health needs of the community, and other concerns of all of the participants involved.

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc. will utilize community-based organizations to develop a training curriculum that is sensitive to the educational and cultural needs of the impacted population with a “train-the-trainer” model to achieve program goals. This project will benefit the community by providing an opportunity to participate in education and training programs focused on:

  • Understanding scientific data;
  • Understanding health impacts;
  • Ways to protect their health;
  • How to track amounts of wastes disposed; and
  • How to track the transport of wastes disposed via diesel trucks.

Faith Answers will provide training and education to enhance the community awareness of the environmental and health impacts of the oil spill and the ability to respond to current environmental concerns. The objectives are to:

  • Communicate data findings provided by partners and research entities to the public;
  • Provide education and training about how to understand the findings and what to look for as oil or hydrocarbons are released into the environment; and
  • Provide training on safety measures in an oil spill clean-up.

Through this project, the community will be well-informed about environmental exposures and participate in developing education intervention strategies. The project seeks to establish: 

  • health education materials involving the oil spill;
  • educational forums designed to help the citizens understand the data being collected by the scientists and university researchers; and
  • a green project that could result in job development and training.

Japanese American Citizens League will educate the Southeast Asian (SEA) community, increase awareness about the environmental and social impacts of the oil spill and assist in eliminating the confusion over available information. The project objective is to provide clear communication to the SEA community. This objective will be achieved by recruiting appropriate translators in the community to speak Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Mien and, bridging the gap between the SEA community and those outside of the community who are working to fix the harmful effects of the oil spill. In addition to the translators, plain language communication and education materials in the various SEA languages will be created. The materials will list potential environmental and health risk factors and reliable resources available to the community to assist in the process of rebuilding.

Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LBB) project, Community Monitoring and Aerial Mapping Program, will equip communities with data about their environment. The community will benefit from having local monitoring information about precise locations of local importance: shrimping waters, oyster leases and areas where children fish, swim and play. LBB’s role will be to teach the communities about the different methods of data collection by sampling air and water. The community will make the final decision about which method to use as they create their own sampling plans, including where to sample and what media they wish to sample. The results of community monitoring may show that there is no contamination and they can eat and catch seafood with confidence. If a problem is found, they can use the data to improve the situation. The strength of LBB program is that it combines local environmental knowledge –understanding of where the oil has been and which areas are impacted—with scientific data.

Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVN) will address the main community issues in a way that is linguistically and culturally competent. MQVN CDC has found, through surveys, interviews, and community forums, that the New Orleans East community is concerned about air, water, and seafood quality, integrity of scientific research, language access and cultural competency.

The objective is to establish the community-driven process as new precedent for scientific research. This will allow for more meaningful involvement of the New Orleans East community with regards to studies that have a direct impact on the community and will strengthen partnerships for environmental justice efforts. Benefits to the community will be:

  • data produced that the community trusts and owns;
  • distribution of data in a linguistically and culturally competent manner to the community; and
  • establishing a community research database.

Teaching Responsible Earth Education will help Plaquemines Parish children heal from the emotional stress of the BP oil disaster, improve understanding of resource use and empower children to make decisions that benefit the natural environment and therefore themselves. The ‘Earthkeepers’ program will result in the alleviation of fears about nature and relieve stress related to the oil disaster. Students will increase their environmental and life science conceptual knowledge as they are guided through 12 experiential science activities over a three day period.

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The environmental justice cooperative agreements are designed to support communities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas that are directly affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They will provide funding to incorporated local non-profit community-based organizations—including faith-based organizations, environmental justice networks, and local Native American tribal governments. They are intended to assist local communities facing environmental justice challenges and help develop educational materials and strategies on how to address and adapt to the spill’s long-term effects.

EPA developed this program after meeting with local organizations in the Gulf Region and learning that there is a need for technical assistance to support educational outreach to communities affected by the BP oil spill. Providing grant funding directly to local organizations will help to ensure that information is distributed through trusted networks of communication and from organizations that will continue to support efforts to rebuild in the wake of disaster.

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