Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Geography and Planning

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 74 pages) : color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kate S. Coddington

Committee Members

Jared R. Enriquez, Tom Narins


ANSWERS Plant, Environmental Justice, Necropolitics, Sheridan Hollow, Slow Violence, Recycling (Waste, etc.), Refuse and refuse disposal, Refuse as fuel, Environmental justice, Hazardous waste sites, Industrial location, Racism against Black people

Subject Categories

Environmental Law | Geography


The ANSWERS plant and its impact on the residents of Sheridan Hollow has recently been accepted by many as a case of environmental injustice. Simply looking at the benefits and burdens of environmental processes shows clearly that the primarily black community faced most of the health burdens that came from waste in the capital region, while white residential areas who sent their trash to ANSWERS faced minimal risk. The state benefitted from energy production, which was used to heat and cool the Empire State Plaza, the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, the state Education Building and New York State Capitol (Sheffer 1987; Sheffer 1988). Using the framework of environmental justice to expand upon this relationship between the neighborhood of Sheridan Hollow, City of Albany, and State of New York, we can build upon Albany’s historical geography of dispossession and segregation leading to the creation of racialized space. This racialized space then was more prone to instances of environmental injustice, and through the incorporation of the incinerator a toxic geography was created. The “linguistic detoxification” of the space around the plant helps show us that a slow violence was enacted upon Sheridan Hollow residents. Using Thom Davies commentary on “visibility to whom?” in slow violent encounters, we can see that the state of New York only allowed the ANSWERS plant to run when the fallout was visible to minority communities. Thus, with the knowledge that the Health Department was aware of negative health impacts on the community from the soot, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s framing to the community as the soot being not dangerous to live with, and the Office of General Services continuous running of the plant (and observably sloppily), what we see is that New York State exercised necropower over the citizens of Sheridan Hollow. That is, with this understanding of the process, the state of New York was willing to expose Sheridan Hollow residents to the power of death, while letting local suburban communities live free of the burdens of their own waste.