Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL – pronounced “circle”) is a community led non-profit group that organizes and educates on issues of clean air, community health and environmental justice in Chester City, PA and the neighboring region. CRCQL has been leading the environmental justice movement in Chester, PA since 1992.

Under the leadership of Zulene Mayfield, CRCQL formed in response to residents’ rising concerns about the overwhelming number of waste facilities being built in Chester, namely the Covanta trash incinerator, now the largest trash incinerator in the United States, which opened along the Delaware River waterfront directly next to a densely populated low-income minority neighborhood.

Through community organizing, advocacy, education and direct-action tactics, the group has led numerous successful campaigns to shut down different polluting industries threatening the community. CRCQL held many public hearings, meetings and actions to empower and educate residents on the damaging effects of air pollution on health. CRCQL also inspired the formation of the Campus Coalition Concerning Chester (C-4) which brought together students across 15 campuses in 5 states to support environmental justice campaigns in Chester and Delaware County.

In a groundbreaking move, CRCQL was the first activist group to apply the Civil Rights Act in an environmental racism lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 1996 and was successful in shutting down Thermal Pure, the nation’s largest medical waste autoclave, which was located in Chester.

CRCQL continues to collaborate with other community groups building the justice movement in the region with a shared vision for clean air, healthy communities and a green future for all.


Zulene Mayfield is the driving force behind Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living with a goal to ensure that families in Chester live free from polluting industries. She and other residents founded CRCQL in 1992 in response to the construction of the largest trash incinerator in the country, which moved in just a block down from her neighborhood. Despite personal attacks, hostility and pushback from industry groups and politicians over the decades, Zulene has remained committed to fighting for environmental justice and for the health of all those living in Chester City.

Through court testimony, advocacy and collaborating with other justice groups, CRCQL was successful in fending off other polluting industries from operating in the neighborhood. She brought to light the environmental racism and discriminatory practices of locating polluting industries into areas of poverty and color. CRCQL was the first civil group in history to use the Civil Rights Act in defense of environmental racism.

Zulene’s dedication to quality of life in Chester has be recognized by many across the county and locally with the NAACP Sojourner Truth Award and other recognitions.

To contact Zulene directly, email [email protected].

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