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West End Revitalization Association Among Winners of EPA’s First Annual Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

Release Date: 10/21/2008
Contact Information: Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293,

(ATLANTA – Oct. 21, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the West End Revitalization Association (WERA) in Mebane, N.C., is among 12 winners of its first annual Environmental Justice Achievement Awards during an award ceremony today in Atlanta. The awards recognize organizations for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues, ranging from reducing children’s pesticide exposure in childcare facilities to helping hurricane-displaced communities address environmental contamination so they could return home.

"We all have a stake in ensuring that our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These organizations are making a positive impact in their communities by promoting a clean and healthy environment for all people."

WERA was recognized for its longtime work to maintain sustainable historic African American communities through preservation, stabilization, removing environmental hazards and creating new and sustainable housing and businesses. WERA was incorporated in 1995 to address environmental threats associated with a planned 27-mile 119 bypass. Among its most notable accomplishments, WERA filed an administrative complaint combining Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 12898 that resulted in a moratorium on highway construction. Most recently, WERA’s Community Owned and managed Research (COMR) model that was created to document E. coli and fecal coliform in Mebane’s municipal water and surface water streams has received national attention.

Other award recipients include representatives from community-based organizations; academic institutions; state and local governments; tribal governments and indigenous organizations; and non-governmental organizations and environmental groups.

The following organizations also received awards:

Anahola Homesteaders Council (Anahola, Kauai, HI)
Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, MS)
Citizens for Environmental Justice (Savannah, GA)
Communities for a Better Environment (Huntington Park, CA)
Dillard University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans, LA)
Duke University, Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (Durham, NC)
Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)
Negocio Verde Environmental Justice Task Force (County of San Diego, CA)
New Mexico Environment Department (Santa Fe, NM)
Safer Pest Control Project (Chicago, IL)
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (Columbia, SC)

Information on the EJ Achievement Award Program, including more details about this year's recipients:

Photo caption: (From left to right) Charles Lee, Director, EPA Office of Environmental Justice; Richard Moore, National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Chair; Robert Varney, EPA New England Regional Administrator; Omega Wilson, award recipient and President of the West End Revitalization Association; Granta Nakayama, EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA); Catherine McCabe, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, OECA; and Russell Wright, Acting Deputy Regional Administrator, EPA Region 4.