Date of Award

Fall 12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Dr. Pam Jenkins

Second Advisor

Dr. John Kiefer

Third Advisor

Dr. Renia Ehrenfeucht

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Shirley Laska

Fifth Advisor

Dr. D'Lane Compton


The purpose of this study is to identify, analyze, and describe the social outcomes that may be affected by the environmental risks generated by infrastructure projects; to examine the ways in which vulnerability and exposure to hazards may increase risk in neighborhoods over time; and to examine the implications of addressing the exacerbation of exposure to natural hazards within the traditional environmental justice framework. The Industrial Canal and Lower Ninth Ward were selected as the subjects of this case study because the canal has existed on the perimeter of the neighborhood for nearly one century, isolating Lower Ninth Ward residents from the rest of New Orleans and significantly contributing to two catastrophic flood events.

The findings of the study are as follows: (1) the environmental risks associated with infrastructure projects can be magnified when imposed on an already vulnerable neighborhood, and may ultimately result in hazard events which cause displacement and disinvestment. Such consequences can have an impact on micro-level (individual and household) and macro-level (neighborhood) social outcomes; (2) vulnerability and exposure to hazards can initiate a pattern of increased risk that intensifies vulnerability to subsequent hazard events; and, finally, (3) the parallels between the causes and consequences of traditional environmental justice issues and the exacerbation of exposure to natural hazards implies that framing issues relative to natural hazards as matters of justice and articulating the social consequences of not mitigating such hazards can be an excellent way of educating stakeholders and lobbying for resources.


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