Transforming incinerators into community amenities? The Seoul experience
This article explores the possibility that pairing desirable community amenities with polluting, industrial, or otherwise unwanted sites, such as waste incinerators, may have the potential to mitigate, or even compensate for, some of their negative local impacts. The environmental justice literature shows that polluting sites tend to disproportionately affect low income and disenfranchised communities. Could this be reversed or mitigated by linking positive amenities to polluting sites? The South Korean experiment of building community amenities (recreation centers, pools, gyms, etc.) at waste incinerators may provide answers to this intriguing question. Using the Difference-in-Differences design we found that while incinerators without amenities have substantial negative impacts on local land and real estate markets, we did not observe any such impact in areas with incinerators that have amenity features. Thus, the amenity features of the incinerators (along with enhanced regulatory emissions standards) are mitigating the negative economic impacts of incinerators.