Community responses and coping strategies in the vicinity of a petroleum refinery in Oakville, Ontario
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This paper investigates community perceptions of and coping responses to a petrochemical refinery in Oakville, Ontario. The analysis of in-depth interviews (n=29) revealed the effects of social and community factors on residents' everyday life experiences of refinery emissions, and the factors that shape residents' perceptions and responses after the refinery's implementation of extensive measures to reduce emissions and odours. Overall, residents reported a reduction in odours from the refinery. While the refinery now poses a minimal or tolerable level of risk to some people in the community, it is still intolerable to others. The results show residents' shifting concerns, with their fears now focused on invisible emissions. Residents continue to employ both action-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies. These findings suggest that refinery intervention may have to move beyond the focus on technological measures to reduce odours to address the psychological and social concerns of residents.
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