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West Virginia: Wheeling Jesuit University - Appalachian CARE Communities (A Former EPA CARE Project)

The summary and links below provide a description and documentation of a Wheeling, West Virginia project that received a Level I cooperative agreement from EPA’s former Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program in 2007, and a Level II CARE Cooperative Agreement in 2009. These case studies serve as historic references, and conditions since the project was funded may have changed.

The resources developed for this project provide communities with information about ways that other communities have addressed environmental issues. Communities can use these project results to reduce environmental impacts, understand risks, and become stewards of their own environment.


Wheeling Jesuit University, Inc. (2007)
Wheeling, West Virginia 
EPA Region 3

The Biology Department of the Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) is the recipient of a Level I CARE Cooperative Agreement.  Wheeling Jesuit University, founded in 1954, is one of America’s 28 Jesuit institutions of higher learning.  The CARE project will focus on the Appalachian community of Tug Fork, and will provide assistance and expertise to identify environmental problems, gather and provide quality information, and transfer that information into community knowledge in a manner that will allow for prioritization of the community’s most pressing environmental needs.  The project will extend established relationships and engage the larger Tug Fork community.  Health problems in this community include high incidences of Alzheimer’s disease, blood problems, cancer not related to smoking, attention deficit disorder, kidney stones and kidney failure, arsenic poisoning, dementia, birth defects, thyroid problems and gastrointestinal problems.  Project goals include building a collaborative partnership to identify pollution sources; providing a bridge that facilitates information-sharing between the community members and pollution source investigators; and creating an inclusive consensus-based process to set pollution priorities. 

Prospective CARE Partners:  Appalachian Coalition for Just and Sustainable Communities; U.S. Department of Interior; State of West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; West Virginia Environmental Council; West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; The Forgotten Communities of Lick Creek Organization, and; Supporting Appalachian’s Vital Environment (SAVE).

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Wheeling Jesuit University  (2009)
Citizen Environmental Concerns and Risk Reduction in Appalachian Care Communities
Wheeling, West Virginia 
Region 3

Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU), a successful CARE Level I recipient in 2007 received a CARE Level II Cooperative Agreement grant for their Citizen Environmental Concerns and Risk Reduction in Appalachian Care Communities project (CECR). The CARE Level I project focused on the Appalachian community of Tug Fork watershed community, identified as “chronically economically distressed.” As a CARE Level II recipient, the WJU will continue their focus on addressing groundwater quality issues in the Appalachian CARE communities near Williamson, WV.  This area has had long-standing environmental concerns resulting from the legacy of coal mining and other extractive industries in the area. The strong reliance on wells and septic systems add to the environmental and human health impacts in these communities.  WJU will partner with a number of stakeholders including the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to implement programs to resolve the community’s concern about underground injections of coal slurry, surface water quality, and community health. Through CARE Level II, CECR plans to implement strategies for long term health and environmental improvement in the Appalachians. CECR also intends to communicate findings and facilitate action planning while extending their CARE partnership by engaging additional Appalachian communities, businesses, elected officials, and researchers working throughout the central Appalachians in areas such as community-based health care, chemical exposure and risk analysis, water quality, geophysical processes and the social sciences.

Established CARE Partners: West Virginia University/Dept. of Community Medicine, Marshall University, The Catholic Conference of West Virginia, The Sludge Safety Project, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Concerned Citizens of Mingo County, Eastern Kentucky Environmental Research Institute, The Senate of West Virginia, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Tug Valley Pharmacy, The Clifford M. Lewis S.J. Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, and Dogwood Art.  

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