Toxic Tribute

Toxic Tribute by Richard Bargielski

The Fields Brook Superfund Site in Ashtabula, Ohio, was once one of the most contaminated waterways in the United States. Since the 1930s more than 20 different facilities have operated near the site, dumping a range of chemicals from uranium to PCBs to heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Many local residents perceive the Environmental Protection Agency as having mishandled the site, citing the cleanup as an origin point for mistrust in government, corporations, and globalization. The memories and embodied experiences of white working-class Ashtabulans with Fields Brook can help us understand the rise of nationalist populism in rural America. This photograph was taken by Ryan Cook, a community collaborator for the project.