Oral Histories

Interview of Andrea Hricko

Member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Committee's Working Group on Ports and Goods Movement. Participant in THE (Trade, Health, Environment) Impact Project, an organization focused on the community health impact of the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Collings, Jane
Hricko, Andrea
Persons Present:
Hricko and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Hricko's office at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research; B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by reviewing material and talking to informed experts persons about the significant amount of environmentally focused community activism in the Long Beach area.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Hricko was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.
Early background—Rural upbringing—Parents' work in local factory—Parents’ Eastern European background—Attitude toward labor activism within the family—Religious background—Speaker on Civil Rights at high school graduation—Importance of using time well in the home environment—Typical careers of high school cohort—Academic work at college—A job with the Public Health Service investigating home accidents for Massachusetts General Hospital—Observes economic disparity firsthand—Early interest in consumer rights—Enters field of public health—Sister’s careers—Enrolls in a master’s program in public health in North Carolina—Observes racism firsthand in North Carolina—An internship on an Indian reservation studying HUD homes—A job with Ralph Nader and the Health Resource Group—Works on the passage of occupational health legislation—A movement of health and occupation safety activism in the seventies—Memories of Ralph Nader—Investigates cases of toxic exposure—Rohm and Haas Chemical Company factory—More on memories of Ralph Nader—Studies occupational hazards for women—A union-sponsored film version of the occupational hazards for women study—Sponsors a conference on lead poisoning and workers—Marries John Froines—Produces environmental and investigative news stories for CBS in Los Angeles—Works in the Mine Safety and Health Administration—A shift in focus away from substantial news for daily news program in LA during the 80s—Reporters who were doing interesting work at CBS—More on a shift in focus away from substantial news for daily news program in LA during the 80s—Begins work at Southern California Health Sciences Center at USC—The nature of outreach to the community at that time—A seminal 2001 town meeting that pointed the USC group toward the ports pollution problem—The port pollution problem gets into the public eye—Beginning to hear about the proposed 710 freeway expansion—Deborah Shock, a committed LA Times reporter, highlights the port expansion issues—A critical mass of community organizing, science, legal pressure begins to get the attention of the ports—Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Clean Air Action Plan—Port of Long Beach greenwashing—Teaching community groups about the science of diesel exhaust—Assessment Teams\Community learn to count extra fine particles—Moving Forward Conference as a way of sharing info nationwide—The phrase “Diesel Death Zone” —The question of whether the analysis of port data accurately reflects pollution’s impact.
The continuity of the focus of Hricko’s career—Methods of transmitting health study information—John Froine’s study of chemical hazards for professional manicurists—Hricko’s heightened awareness of toxic chemicals and fumes in the environment—The challenge of communicating the science of health effects—The pronounced activism of the communities living around the ports—THE (Trade, Health, Environment) Impact Project—The geographic reach of the port’s activity—The role of community organizing in the port activism—The relationship between consumerism and pollution—The importance of accurate traffic data for measuring the effects of potential port traffic—Port “greenwashing” of scientific data—The work of the neighborhood assessment team from Wilmington gathering data on proximity of homes to traffic—More on the importance of accurate traffic data for increasing the effects of potential port traffic—Studies that measure health effects in the proximity of freeways—The challenge of mitigating port growth in the face of an economic downturn—The large amount of food that is trucked out of the port to points east—Port spending on public relations—Gains made in mine safety during the Clinton administration—Importance of pointing community groups toward good scientific studies—Community seminars that introduce the science of port pollution—Health Impact Assessment training—Elements of environmental justice in the port pollution issue—Dramatic effect on communities in proximity of port inspires a high degree of community involvement—Sense among affected Long Beach communities that they are subject to environmental racism—The prevalence of political decisions over the community concerns or the scientific health findings—A heightened awareness of the problem of port pollution since about 2002—Prevalence of Latinas in community groups working on port issue—Prevalence of men in East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice—Participation by mothers at Banning High School in air pollution organizing—A confluence of forces, including media reporting, legal pressure, and community organizing, focus attention on port pollution—The pivotal role of community organizing in the port-affected communities—The large port publicity budget—The difficulties of working with CalTrans on freeway questions due to its lack of interest in the science of health impacts.
Gene/environment interactions—Port and railyard greenwashing—The importance of relying on health science in making decisions about port growth—The formation of THE [Trade, Health, Environment] Impact Project—The importance of facilitating community groups in their presentation of good science when they conduct political work—An effort to track down the cause of a high incidence of cancer along the 710 freeway—The possibilities for class action suits among polluters—Instances where the USC Center for Health Sciences has not seen eye to eye with community groups—Presentations to other public health groups about THE Impact Project's work—The importance of acting to facilitate practical solutions to community health problems—Successful community partnerships—The success of the Moving Forward conference and making connections among community groups—Building a goods movement internet networking tool—Incentives for the California port industry to level the playing field to have nationwide environmental impact regulations—Public availability of minutes and webcasts of Harbor Commissioner meetings for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles—The term "goods movement"—Efforts on behalf of health concerns by the ports, the harbor commissioners, and Mayor Villaraigosa—Efforts to mitigate the pollution caused by the 710 freeway in low- income communities—Evidence of environmental racism in the responses to community concerns about pollution caused by the 710 freeway—Hricko's robust role as a liaison between community groups and environmental scientists—Effective strategies for communicating scientific information about environmental science to community members and government entities —The success in getting information about the health impacts of goods movement between 2002 and 2009—Difficulties in communicating concerns to CalTrans with regard to the proposed 710 freeway expansion.