Bridgeport faces multiple stressors from climate change. Higher sea levels and flooding were obvious and devastating during Irene and Sandy, particularly in the south end where the streets not only flooded but the storms also inundated sewage systems, sending fecal matter into people’s homes.
The city straddles I-95 as well as Route 8 and the Merritt Parkway, all of which are perpetually loaded with motor vehicles and their tailpipe emissions. Diesel-powered ships travel in and out of the port. Along the waterfront there is still a large fossil fuel power plant — natural gas now, the coal is gone — and there is a trash-to-energy plant that burns garbage.
Asthma rates are high and have outsized impacts on the large community of those considered an environmental justice population — low-income, people of color, living in the most environmentally vulnerable parts of the city — for all of the factors above.
Yet when it became apparent the city needed to update or even rebuild Bassick High School — a school that serves a large part of that community and that in the warming climate had no air conditioning — those factors seem to have been largely ignored.
The site for the new school is in a flood zone, so while it will be somewhat elevated, the likelihood of mold from street level flooding — which is more prevalent now even on sunny days — is high. It is at the intersection of I-95 and Route 8, down the block from the power plant, a short way up the coast from the trash-to-energy plant and an even shorter way down the coast from the port.