Ed Masry, who hired the now famous Erin Brockovich on her first
environmental case, saw the need for independent air monitoring after a
gas leak at the UNOCAL oil refinery in 1995. Ed was suing the facility
on behalf of the citizens of Contra Costa County, California. While
working in the area, Ed and Erin became ill from the fumes the factory
quickly learned that the agencies monitoring the emissions never seemed
to be around when the factory had a particularly bad release. He knew
that his team needed a way to verify and prove that the factory was
emitting toxic chemicals into the air.
Masry hired an environmental
engineer to design a low cost device (similar to a canister) that
communities could use to take air samples. The “Bucket” was designed,
providing the foundation for the Bucket Brigade to begin empowering
community members to monitor the air for themselves.
closely with Ed, Denny Larson (then with California-based Communities
for A Better Environment) promoted the use of the Buckets in other
communities exposed to toxic air emissions in Contra Costa County and
throughout California. Denny launched the Bucket Brigade community air
sampling program in 1995.
for the Bucket came from throughout the United States and
internationally. Larson worked with several organizations in Louisiana
and Texas, helping to create the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, based in New
2001, Denny formed the Global Community Monitor to continue to work
with the grassroots groups around the world to train them to launch
their own Bucket Brigades.
creation of the air monitoring Bucket and the community Bucket Brigade
set in motion a movement that gives communities living near refineries,
chemical plants, or other toxic emitting sources a chance to even the
playing field with indifferent regulators and polluting companies.
Bucket Brigades have been active in 27 different countries and have a
proven track record of effectiveness in forcing polluters and agencies
to clean up their acts.