Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in Pittsfield, Massachusetts : an investigation of public participation
Author(s)Jastremski, Wendy M. (Wendy Marie), 1973-
Polychlorinated biphenyl contamination in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
PCB contamination in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Nicholas A. Ashford.
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This thesis investigates the public participation in agreements reached between various government agencies and the polluter, General Electric, regarding extensive PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In this case, government acted as a trustee on behalf of the public's interests in the negotiations. All individuals involved in the negotiation signed contracts of confidentiality, preventing the government agents from sharing details of the negotiation with the public. This stipulation jeopardized the trust between the community and the government agencies and set very real limits on the potential for meaningful public participation. The purposes of this investigation were to: (1) examine these limits resulting from the decision to negotiate with General Electric, (2) make comparisons between the negotiation process and the process followed for sites on the National Priorities List, (3) identify services that the government agencies failed to provide to the community, (4) assess the value added by the public participation mechanisms provided to the public, (5) use the Ashford/Rest model to make suggestions for enhanced public participation in similar cases, and (6) evaluate the application of the Ashford/Rest model to this case. A site summary provides an overview of the case, including the progression of PCB contamination in Pittsfield, the resulting investigation, and the identification of stakeholders and key negotiators. Chapter Two explains the evolution and involvement of the community groups, government agencies, and other stakeholders in more detail, including the choice whether or not to list the site on the National Priorities List. A literature review summarizes some modern theories on community participation, defines effective involvement, and examines various participation opportunities. Professor Nicholas Ashford and Dr. Kathleen Rest have developed a model for ideal community involvement from the study of several Superfund sites. Only sites where the public participation was considered to have been "successful" were included in the Ashford/Rest case studies. In Chapter Four, the Ashford/Rest model is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the community involvement in Pittsfield. The thesis conclusion offers some final insights into the case and comments on the adequacy of the Ashford/Rest model in evaluating the public participation in Pittsfield.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning; and, (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technology and Policy Program, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 97-100).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.