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RiskAware: Visualizing the environmental health risks in and near Adel, Georgia

Adel, Georgia

Featured image for the project, RiskAware: Visualizing the environmental health risks in and near Adel, Georgia

Image by Ralf Vetterle from Pixabay

This project will be conducted for the City of Adel and nearby towns in Cook County, Georgia to support local activists’ fight for environmental justice against the construction of a new wood pellet plant near the neighborhood. We aim to develop a clear and interactive visualization tool to 1) demonstrate the impacts from existing pollutants for Adel and nearby towns with state-of-the-art data that can be updated continuously; and 2) provide estimation for the impact on air quality with the construction of a new wood pellet plant. This tool will effectively inform the local community about the environmental health risks they are, and will be facing on top of the existing pollutants in the community. Once developed, this tool will empower the ongoing and future fight for environmental justice by building a solid foundation with data-based evidence for potential legal actions and other forms of advocacy.


About the Community

  • Basic demographics of City of Adel, Georgia, according to the 2020 Census
Total Population % of African Americans Medium Income % of population with age 65+ Poverty Rate
5,571 45% $26,963 19.8% 23.5%

Existing environmental stressors

  • Air quality pollution induced by lumber yard, propane tank refurbishing facility, and an existing wood pellet plant located in 1.3 miles from the nearest resident
  • Water pollution induced by lumber yard
  • Excessive energy consumption by bitcoin mines

Newly approved potential pollutants

  • Air quality pollution is likely to increase due to a recently approved pellet plant facility within 100-200 yards from the nearest resident and upwind from residents who have already been overburdened by existing pollutants

A documentary about local residents’ fight for environmental justice

Abandoned: Greed, Neglect and Environmental Injustice in Adel


Summer & Fall 2022 → Search for and connect community to scientists

Fall & Winter 2022 →  Model building with the help from community leaders

Spring & Summer 2023 → Interactive tool development and final delivery


Updates from Adel, GA

January 5, 2023

Our community leads have reached a settlement agreement with the Spectrum Energy Georgia LLC in the operation of a proposed wood pellet plant in Adel. Effective December 24, 2022, the agreement includes more protections for public health than the permit authorized by state regulators, and stronger enforceability provisions in the case that Spectrum fails to comply with the settlement. In fact, if unable to fulfill its obligations to the Adel community by monitoring and controlling air pollution, Spectrum will not proceed to a second, more robust level of operations.

The details of the agreement can be found in this press release by the Southern Environmental Law Center, who represented our community leads in this legal action.

December 13, 2022

Shenyue Jia, our project manager and AGU Thriving Earth Exchange Community Fellow, presented the scope, purpose, and recent progress of the RiskAware project at AGU Fall Meeting 2022 in Chicago. Here are the slides used in the presentation.

All updates for this project

Project Team

Community Leads

Treva Gear headshot

Dr. Treva Gear is the founder and chair of the Concerned Citizens of Cook County, a community grassroots organization in Adel, Georgia.  She is also the Georgia State Manager for Dogwood Alliance, an environmental organization that focuses on protecting southern forests and communities from industrial logging.  Dr. Gear is an Army veteran, an educator of 17 years, and a community organizer. She believes in being the change that she wants to see in the world and doesn’t mind “getting into good trouble.” Dr. Gear holds a doctorate in Adult and Career Education from Valdosta State University.

Community Scientist

headshot of Kibri Everett

Kibri Hutchison Everett is an environmental scientist at RTI International, a non-profit based in Research Triangle Park, NC. Her work involves providing data services to multi-disciplinary teams of scientists, engineers, and economists. She has 18 years of experience providing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and technical support on a variety of projects by gathering, integrating, visualizing, interpreting, and analyzing data. She uses her spatial skills to conduct EJ analyses and to create dissemination products and tools for researchers, community groups, and the general public.

Community Science Fellow

Shenyue Jia Headshot

Dr. Shenyue Jia is an adjunct professor and visiting scholar at Chapman University. She has been actively engaged in community science since 2020, focusing on improving the access to urban greenness in Los Angeles County’s “Gateway Cities”, where residents suffer from above-average air and noise pollution from traffic along the busy corridor from Long Beach Harbor to Downtown Los Angeles’ warehouse district. She recently concluded a series of community projects on tree canopy improvement for six Gateway Cities with colleagues from Loyola Marymount University, TreePeople, and Gateway City Government Council. In these projects, she incorporates residents’ preferences with the modeled priority for tree planting based on high resolution land cover data from LiDAR images and daytime population.

Past Members

Sabrina Chapa is a Xicana from the frontlines of so-called South Texas (Karankawa land). She is a proud “Earth Protector at the intersections of just practice, biocultural ecology, and radical transformation”. She got her M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a focus on Ecological Justice. She’s also a co-researcher with the Tishman Environment and Design Center and volunteers for her community. While working at Anthropocene Alliance, Sabrina helped the Adel community locate resources available from AGU and beyond to facilitate the progress of the community’s environmental justice endeavors.