Place Impacts of Technological Hazards: A Case Study of Community Conflict as Health Outcome
Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
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Through a qualitative case study, this paper describes the everyday experience of conflict as a serious impact of noxious facilities. It describes intra-community conflict over two existing waste facilities (a regional landfill and a low-level hazardous waste facility) in Ryley, Alberta, Canada. Twenty-seven in-depth face-to-face interviews and one focus group reveal deep conflict presented as frustration, anger, social isolation and strained social relations between locals who ‘support’ the facilities as a means of bolstering the local economy and those who do not (mainly long-time resident farmers). Although the type of hazard exposure (i.e. existing facilities) is important for explaining why conflict developed and became entrenched, it is argued that the nature of community, and in particular differences in ways of life, are also critical determinants. The findings are compared to theory and other case studies concerning why social conflict develops over technological hazards. Implications for environmental impact assessment and environmental appeals are discussed, as well as compensation as one avenue for equitably reducing conflict.