Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Anne J. Hacker
Research on environmental relocation is scant and narrow, focusing on a few aspects of permanent relocation and social impacts of natural disasters. As a result, little is known about the long term social impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) environmental relocation policy. A combined conceptual and theoretical framework of Walter's placeways; Ullberg's disaster memoryscapes; Richardson's remembrance and memorialization; Dynes' social capital; and, Norris, Stevens, Pfefferbaum, Wyche, and Pfefferbaum's work on community resilience guided this phenomenological study with the purpose of better understanding competing and complementary roles of each of these constructs in the context of environmental relocation of one dioxin-contaminated community in Eastern Missouri. Data were collected from archival materials and interviews with 10 adults who were youth, teens, or young adults who lived in the community from 1970 through 1986. All data were coded and analyzed using Moustaka's reflective analysis procedure. Findings confirmed that the loss of place was most significant. The loss of place in this study refers to not only the physical relocation of all the residents of the entire community, but the razing of all the physical structures that were buried in a landfill. A state park was established where the community once existed. Future research to further extend the scholarship on environmental relocation could examine one or more of the other 18 contaminated communities relocated by the EPA to compare and contrast findings. Implications for social change include informing EPA policymakers, legislators, and officials about the long term social impacts in order to improve planning and implementation phases of environmental relocation.