Sierra Club in Richland County
Richland and Marion Counties, South Carolina
Virginia Sanders is a National Sierra Club Organizer working in the Richland and Marion Counties of South Carolina. Her work to further environmental justice includes fighting for her community’s right to access clean water. Virginia and the Sierra Club were instrumental in helping to stop developers who in 1999 had purchased land near the Congaree River to build a gated community in the floodplain. She knew if they had succeeded, they would have diverted flooding waters into a low-income black community in Lower Richmond. Virginia received help from the Sierra Club to rally volunteers to educate the community and fight the development, and they won.
Virginia’s tireless efforts continued in 2018 when a uranium/acid leak from a Westinghouse facility, 5 miles away from Virginia’s home, posed a threat to the community’s water source. Virginia has also organized bus riders in the city of Columbia to advocate for improvements to transit services as well as investments in walking and biking infrastructure. She serves on the Richland County conservation commission as well, all in an effort to improve the quality of life for the people of Richland and Marion Counties.
Virginia is currently working with the Thriving Earth Exchange to look into the Duke Energy Dam and the Westinghouse facility to address potential sources of hazards for her communities.
Written by Michele Gielis
Halting bad development
Fighting industrial contamination
501c3 tax deductible