In 1986 the Khian Sea, carrying thousands of tons of incinerator ash from Philadelphia, began a two-year journey, roaming the world's oceans in search of a dumping ground. Its initial destination and then country after country refused to accept the waste. The ship ended up dumping part of its load in Haiti under false pretenses, and the remaining waste was illegally dumped in the ocean. Two shipping company officials eventually received criminal convictions.
Simone M. Müller uses the Khian Sea's voyage as a lens to elucidate the global trade in hazardous waste—the movement of material ranging from outdated consumer products and pesticides to barges filled with all sorts of toxic discards—from the 1970s to the present day, exploring the story's international nodes and detailing the downside of environmental conscientiousness among industrial nations as waste is pushed outward. Müller also highlights the significance of the trip's start in Philadelphia, a city with a significant African American population. The geographical origins shed light on environmental racism within the United States in the context of the global story of environmental justice. Activism in response to the ship's journey set an important precedent, and this book brings together the many voices that shaped the international trade in hazardous waste.
Simone M. Müller is Heisenberg Professor for Global Environmental History and Environmental Humanities at the University of Augsburg Germany. As a historian and environmental humanities scholar, she works at the intersection of globalization processes, discards, and environmental justice.
Paul Sutter is series editor for the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series. He is professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has published five books, including Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement (University of Washington Press, 2005) and Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies: Providence Canyon and the Soils of the South (University of Georgia Press, 2015).