Clean Up

BUFFALO, NY - Erin Robinson, PhD, is part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers who will use a three-year, $896,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study new approaches to the long-term management of hazardous waste. 

Traditional methods focus on technological solutions, cost and the potential to improve public health.  Oftentimes, these methods do not consider if a solution is sustainable or whether it will create more problems in the future.  The interdisciplinary team will take a different approach, explains Robinson. 

“We will integrate the science and engineering involved in the management of hazardous waste with the social and ethical concerns that go along with it to determine if it’s more advantageous to focus on low-cost containment measures instead of costly programs that may have limited chances of success.”

The team will visit former steel mills, oil refineries and other contaminated grounds to gather data.  Researchers will also interview nearby residents of the contaminated sites, as well as government and public health officials.  

“The team will use the information to develop a more complete picture of the contamination sites and their effects on nearby communities.” 

An associate professor of sociology and director of environmental studies at Canisius, Robinson is the author of Community Mobilization for Environmental Problems: How a Grassroots Organization Forms and Works.  She shares the NSF grant with University at Buffalo Professors Alan Rabideau, PhD, environmental engineering; Kenneth Shockley, PhD, philosophy; and Michael Frisch, PhD, history.