More than one hundred days into the BP disaster, folks are wondering where all the oil has gone—much of it seems to have crept under the water’s surface, or maybe evaporated into thin air. But, as officials scramble to assess the pending damage, we do know the destination of around 40,000 tons of the spill waste: it’s headed for the families that have been getting dumped on for years. In what may be yet another calm before the storm, BP’s colorfully advertised waste management plan appears to follow a haunting pattern of environmental racism. The activists tracking the region probably locate the targeted sites without glancing at a map. According to an analysis by Robert Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center of Clark Atlanta University:

More than half (five out of nine) of the landfills receiving BP oil-spill solid waste are located in communities where people of color comprise a majority of residents living within near the waste facilities.


In addition, a significantly large share of the BP oil-spill waste, 24,071 tons out of 39,448 tons (61 percent), is dumped in people of color communities.  This is not a small point since African Americans make up just 22 percent of the coastal counties in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, while people of color comprise about 26 percent of the population in coastal counties.

These are communities already pummeled by the a triple-blow of Hurricane Katrina, economic paralysis and racial inequality. Within these populations, the pollution may strike women and children the hardest.Exposures to oil chemicals, such as benzene, along with the mystery cocktail of dispersants, may pose major risks to reproductive and maternal health, though much more research is needed.