American industry disproportionately affects the health of low-income communities. East Chicago, Indiana — known as the country's "most industrialized municipality" during the 19th century — offers a glimpse into environmental inequities plaguing the rust belt.
Nearly 80 percent of the city is zoned for heavy industries that pollute the air, water, and soil. These industries, which once bolstered citizens’ economic futures, now threaten their existence.
British Petroleum expanded its refinery to the northern boundary of Marktown, a 100-year-old workers' village in East Chicago, in 2013. Well within a disaster blast zone, the oil and gas company has offered between $4,545 and $30,000 for the properties, which is not enough to buy an equivalent home. Residents say they have felt more vulnerable with each of the nearly 20 buildings demolished in the past year.