Online Program

Left behind: Searching for health in the wake of corporate flight

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lin Nelson, PhD, Sustainability and Justice Studies, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
Anne Fischel, PhD, Media Studies, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
The mining-smelting sector is well known, but not well monitored, for serious hazards. The American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO)transformed over the last century through reconstructed ownership under a former subsidiary (Grupo Mexico) and its 2005 bankruptcy, providing protective reorganization and an exit package of reduced liability at 90-plus sites. A notorious site is the shuttered smelter in El Paso Texas, where pollution reached into New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico. Plant closure, a protracted debate about re-licensure and the bankruptcy have posed severe challenges to displaced workers, who face local risks of a global, mobile corporation. At the El Paso smelter, the standard array of smelting hazards was complicated by what the GAO has labelled “sham recycling” due to the diversion of the hazardous waste stream through selected smelters. The synergy of risks challenges former workers, the community and health care providers to decipher evidence regarding exposure and address emergent medical concerns. This study of workplace safety and community involvement utilizes government document analysis, interviewing and observation, and examines community-based research as contributor to determining industrial health impacts. The main expected outcome is a profile of worker-community steps in re-activating right-to-know after plant closure. The links between union, retired/injured workers, community advocates, health providers and researchers will be examined and mapped, as they pertain to this and related cases in occupational/environmental health. A central feature is linking principles and resources in tracking workplace health information relevant to communities in the wake of company reorganization and relocation.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the interface between labor, community, health provider and science in the search for industrial diagnostics that are both remedial and preventive. Identify the likely impacts of corporate reorganization and relocation on the quality and availability of safety and health information.

Keyword(s): Community Research, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the key researcher on the history, public policy and community research elements of this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.