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Environmental Injustice

Last year, 14-year-old honor student Alex Perales died of cancer. He attended Suva Intermediate School in South Los Angeles. Why is that detail important? Because Suva may be sitting in the middle of a toxic zone. Located next door to two chrome plating plants, which spew hexavalent chromium a known carcinogen.

CBS.com, in conjunction with CBS Sunday Morning, introduces viewers to Bell Gardens, where the Perales family lives, and to the burgeoning cause of environmental justice. Are Bell Gardens -- and neighborhoods like it all over the country -- being poisoned by nearby industries?

At Suva, school employees, parents and activists say there has been an alarming incidence of cancer, miscarriage, and serious illness among people who spend their days at the school. Although county health officials say there is no danger, pointing to a ten-year-old study that found no problem, residents are worried. Among the most upset is Joe Perales, Alex's father, who is fighting for a massive cleanup of Suva. (Hear Mr. Perales talk about his feelings in the video clip above, which is not a part of the television broadcast.)

The Web has reams of information about environmental justice. We found the most relevant sites on the subject.
Known as Bell Gardens, the neighborhood is part of a 21-mile-long corridor that is one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the country. Like most of the residential areas in that strip, Bell Gardens is a poor, mostly minority community. Activists say that this is not accidental -- that heavy industry has been purposely put in poor, relatively powerless areas

Recently, a group of Federal officials came to Bell Gardens for what activists termed a "Toxic Tour." They called for further study. But Joe Perales says there have been enough studies, and it's time to clean up the mess.

produced by David Kohn