SCSJ Presents Environmental Tools at Sampson County Science Fair

Environmental Justice

CLINTON (April 29, 2024) – Sampson County became a nexus for environmental activism and empowerment as researchers and advocates gathered to present their findings to community members at the Sampson County Science Fair.

The event — spearheaded by Southern Coalition for Social Justice in collaboration with the Environmental Justice Community Action Network (EJCAN) — shed light on pressing environmental issues plaguing the county. Sampson County grapples with a myriad of environmental injustices ranging from air and water contamination stemming from the hog and poultry industry to the longstanding concerns surrounding the nearly 50-year-old landfill situated nearby. Additionally, the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” in the water further adds to the cumulative impacts the community faces.

At the forefront of this endeavor was the unveiling of the Sampson County Landfill Origin Explorer, a groundbreaking mapping tool developed by SCSJ’s GIS Specialist/Data Analyst Klaus Mayr. This innovative tool provides residents, advocates, and stakeholders with a comprehensive visualization of the counties contributing waste to the Sampson County regional landfill since 2005.

The fair included research from the Southern Environmental Law Center, RTI International, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Appalachian State University. It ended with a screening of “The Smell of Money,” which tells the story of one family’s fight against environmental injustice in Sampson County.

The Sampson County Science Fair served as a platform for dialogue, education, and mobilization. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with experts, exchange ideas, and explore potential solutions to mitigate environmental injustices. Through collaborative efforts like this, SCSJ and EJCAN are fostering a grassroots movement for environmental justice in Sampson County and beyond.