Fenceline community


A fenceline community or frontline community is a neighborhood that is immediately adjacent to a company, military base, industrial or service center and is directly affected by the noise, odors, chemical emissions, traffic, parking, or operations of the company.[1][2][3] These communities are exposed to hazardous chemicals, high pollution levels, and environmental degradation along with the threat of chemical explosions.[4][5]

Many fenceline communities are situated in sacrifice zones that are disproportionately inhabited by people of color, Indigenous communities, and the working poor.[6][7][8][3]


As a result of exposure to hazardous materials and emissions, fenceline communities experience higher rates and risk of cancer and respiratory challenges.[5] Fenceline communities also face additional health and socioeconomic issues such as poor housing infrastructure, lack of access to nutritious and non-toxic food, and higher rates of diseases, along with the increase stress and challenges that result from unemployment, poverty, crime, and racism.[5] Climate change-induced extreme weather events and natural disasters place fenceline communities at risk of a high level of exposure to toxic emissions from facility explosions and chemical leaks.[9][10]

Fenceline communities "fear that it may jeopardize jobs and economic survival" to organize to reduce their exposure to hazardous waste."[11] Additionally, residents in fenceline communities are often unable to relocate. This is because the large industries adjacent to residential communities often produce effects that dramatically lower the property value of these homes. Therefore, residents are unable to sell their homes for a value that would be high enough for them to purchase property elsewhere.[12]

An example of a fenceline community is the African American Diamond community in Norco, Louisiana. This community lived on the fenceline of a Shell plant.[13]


Examples of actions that can minimize the negative impact a nearby company has on a fenceline community include, greater education and information sharing between companies and communities, improved safety regulations, health-impact assessments, and increased monitoring, reporting, and reduction of toxic emissions.[5] Communities also organize against adjacent company's and advocate for their standard of living. However, fenceline communities can face barriers in doing so as they often "do not have the social or financial resources to mitigate their exposures."[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Burke, Edmund M. (1999). Corporate Community Relations: The Principle of the Neighbor of Choice. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 63. ISBN 027596471X. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  2. ^ Henriques, Adrian (2012). Corporate Impact: Measuring and Managing Your Social Footprint. Earthspan. p. 79. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Let's Talk about Sacrifice Zones". Climate Reality. 2021-05-13. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  4. ^ "Let's Talk about Sacrifice Zones". Climate Reality. 2021-05-13. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  5. ^ a b c d "Life at the Fenceline: Understanding Cumulative Health Hazards in Environmental Justice Communities". Coming Clean Inc. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  6. ^ Robert D. Bullard, ed. (2005). The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution. Sierra Club Book. ISBN 1578051207. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  7. ^ US Environmental Protection Agency, ed. (1992). Environmental Equity:Reducing Risk for All Communities (vol. 1) (PDF). United States Government. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  8. ^ US Environmental Protection Agency, ed. (1992). Environmental Equity:Reducing Risk for All Communities (vol. 2) (PDF). United States Government. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  9. ^ Nicole, Wendee (May 2021). "A Different Kind of Storm: Natech Events in Houston's Fenceline Communities". Environmental Health Perspectives. Research Triangle Park. 129 (5): 52001. doi:10.1289/EHP8391. PMC 8099156. PMID 33950702.
  10. ^ Johnston, J.; Cushing, L. (2020). "University of Toronto Libraries". Current Environmental Health Reports. 7 (1): 48–57. doi:10.1007/s40572-020-00263-8. PMC 7035204. PMID 31970715. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  11. ^ "Environmental Racism". United Church of Christ. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  12. ^ Lerner, Steve (2005). Diamond: A Struggle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor. London, England: First MIT Press. pp. 10. ISBN 9780262122733.
  13. ^ Lerner, Steve (2006). Diamond. The MIT Press. ISBN 0262622041.
  14. ^ Johnston, Jill; Cushing, Lara (2020-03-01). "Chemical Exposures, Health, and Environmental Justice in Communities Living on the Fenceline of Industry". Current Environmental Health Reports. 7 (1): 48–57. doi:10.1007/s40572-020-00263-8. ISSN 2196-5412. PMC 7035204. PMID 31970715.

External linksEdit

  • Fenceline: A Company Town Divided. PBS. 2002. Event occurs at 00:52:18.
  • Voices from the Fenceline
Community organizations
  • Moving Forward Network
  • Climate Justice Alliance
  • NDRC
  • Women's Voices for the Earth