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J Environ Manage. 2009 Apr;90(4):1628-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.05.018. Epub 2008 Sep 19.

Information, power and environmental justice in Botany: the role of community information systems.

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Australian National Toxics Network, Bangalow, Australia.


In the environmental conflict that surrounds the sighting of hazardous waste facilities there is usually a volatile mix of disparities in power, expertise and information access as well as differing views on risk, which are all played out amidst commercial arrangements and environmental justice concerns. In recent times, the volatility of this mix has been further compounded by the growing climate of public concern and distrust surrounding scientific developments and technology. While there is no 'quick fix' to the complex conflict that this entails, community information systems (CISs) based on participatory models can help address the outstanding issues of capacity, information access, power inequities and environmental justice. CISs are an effective response to the five crucial elements of a toxic dispute, that is, the dialogue, capacity building, information access, evaluation of hazards and risk, and expertise. This paper will review the role of community accessible information systems in the dispute in Botany over the management and destruction of Orica Australia's stockpile of the persistent organic pollutant, hexachlorobenzene (HCB). It will focus on the role of CIS in responding to the challenges for expert information delivery, and in addressing the disparity of informational power within the toxic dispute.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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