Environmental Justice History
1982 PCB Protests
In 1982, Warren County residents mobilized against the establishment of a PCB toxic waste dump in the mostly-Black community of Afton. PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, is a toxic chemical that had been dumped along highways in North Carolina in 1978.
Through legal action and protests, community members fought the State's decision to store the state's contaminated soil in a toxic waste dump in the mostly-Black community of Afton, NC. The 1982 protests, known as the PCB Protests, succeeded in ensuring only Warren County's waste would be stored in Warren County. Decades later, community members again organized to ensure North Carolina would keep its promise to decontaminate the toxic site.
The PCB Protests are recognized as the birthplace of the environmental justice movement. The events prompted a landmark national study of hazardous waste landfill siting in low-income communities of color and began a global movement against environmental racism.