There’s too much cancer….we must stop cancer where it starts!

Posted by Bradley Angel June 10, 2013

It’s been a very sad couple of months, as cancer has stricken many friends, family members, co-workers and colleagues.  This needs to be a wake-up call, reminding us we must all fight harder to stop cancer where a lot of it starts – with polluting industries that profit from putting cancer-causing chemicals into our bodies, our air and water, and into the food we all eat.

 Lew Dunn, formerly a resident of Casmalia, California and one of the founders of the grassroots environmental justice movement in the west – and a co-founder of Greenaction – passed away in May after a long fight.  His son who grew up playing next to the Casmalia toxic dump died in January of cancer. Barbara Brenner, long time director of Breast Cancer Action, just passed away. And kids in Kettleman City have been afflicted with cancer, a very troubling development.

The dad of Greenaction Board member Teri Johnson passed away from cancer today. A spouse of a Greenaction staff member has been diagnosed with serious cancer, as has a dear friend of mine from college days. A close relative  just had part of his kidney removed due to a giant tumor. This hits really hard as my mother also died of cancer, as did several other moms in the neighborhood I grew up in.

Greenaction and cancer survivors are starting to plan action to raise awareness of the environmental links to cancer…stay tuned!

As we mourn those who have passed away, we pledge to continue fighting for the living!

Long Live the Spirit of Lew Dunn!

posted May 15, 2013 by Bradley Angel

It is a very sad day, but one that reminds us to mourn the dead, but fight like hell for the living.

Toxic pollution and government complicity with polluters has another victim.

Lew Dunn, formerly of Casmalia, California, passed away after years of illness today.

Lew was a true hero of the environmental justice movement, one of its founders in California. In 1990 Lew joined with other grassroots community members from around the state to form California Communities Against Toxics. In late 1997 Lew joined with grassroots leaders from California and Arizona and helped found Greenaction and was one of our original board members.

Lew’s body finally gave in to the decades of exposure to toxic pollution from when he, and his family, lived next to the notorious Casmalia hazardous waste landfill in Santa Barbara County, California. Lew’s youngest son passed away from cancer in January 2013, and his wife Carol still suffers from a rare cancer of the blood.

I first met Lew in 1987 when he was working with his neighbors to close the infamous toxic waste dump that was killing so many residents. Over two dozen out of about 250 residents died from cancer and other illnesses that doctors in the Santa Maria Valley attributed to the dump.

Despite millions of barrels of toxic waste dumped in unlined pits and liquid toxic waste sprayed in the air, state and federal agencies always made the outrageously false claim that the dump was safe. When the dump was caught massively violating the law in 1989 by letting in 10,000 truck loads beyond the capacity of the landfill, the EPA promised to shut it down within 3 days, but then tried to expand the dump! Lew and Carol and their neighbors, supported by students at the local high school and community members from other polluted communities, shut down the EPA/state hearing with ferocious direct action, literally dismantling the hearing and refusing to let it proceed…and the dump finally closed a few weeks later, one of the greatest victories in the history of the environmental justice movement.

Today, the EPA and the state are constantly reminded of the lies they told about Casmalia being safe, as the dump is a major superfund site…and the EPA had to admit it was an “out of control” toxic waste site.

Lew inspired communities across the nation, from Kettleman City to East Los Angeles to Alpaugh to Phoenix and countless other towns and communities. Lew was a true peoples’ hero. He always said he wanted to make a difference, and he sure did.

Let’s keep fighting for health and environmental justice, in memory of Lew and all the other victims of corporate polluters and government complicity.

Here are some of the messages we received after letting folks know of Lew’s passing:

“The West County Toxics Coalition salutes Lew Dunn, hero of the peoples struggle for Environmental Justice.” – Henry Clark, West County Toxics Coalition, Richmond, California

“It is a sad day, but Lew did make a huge difference.  He was a bigger than life character and I still remember him standing up and testifying in Alpaugh about what happened in his community of Casmalia.  It opened our eyes about how corrupt regulatory agencies can be. Lew’s testimony was one of the main influences that helped get so many people in Alpaugh to join the fight to keep out it’s proposed toxic waste incinerator.   We stopped them cold.  Thank you Lew. Vive Lew Dunn!” – Linda Mackay

“Hi, Bradley and friends. Thank you for sharing the sad news of Lew’s death. I am seeing him now in my mind’s eye at a hearing in Livermore you both attended on the toxic and radioactive waste incinerators at Livermore Lab – the one they had and the bigger one they wanted to build. Lew was unwavering and wonderful in his testimony and his insistence that the regulators listen to the community. The existing incinerator was shut down and the new one never happened. Lew, Presente! And, please give my best to Carol. Peace” – Marylia Kelly, Tri-Valley CAREs

“Lou was a force of nature – and his determination will continue to flow through us into our movement! Viva Lou!” – Denny Larson, Global Community Monitor

“ In Arabic we have a saying when someone passes away— we say “el umer elkom”!  Which means “may your essence be part of the coming generations”!  I always love it,  that means protect our ” Mother  Earth”  she will protect us.  He will be part of us as we continue protecting our humanity and most of all our earth.” – Wafaa Aborashed, Healthy 880 Communities

“Never call anyone an asshole. Assholes are useful.  Call ’em a hemorrhoid,” said Lew.  I’ve always loved that.  I am so sorry to hear of his death.  This has been a bad month.  ~Judy Brady, Greenaction Board member

“More reason to fight stronger than ever for the causes!!” – Lori Riddle, Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment

 

 

GREENACTION BRINGS TOGETHER 500 PEOPLE FROM 66 GROUPS FOR EARTH DAY ACTION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE!

Posted by: Bradley Angel, April 23, 2013

On April 22, 2013, Greenaction brought together 500 people from 66 environmental justice, community, indigenous, environmental, social justice, civil rights and labor organizations for the Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice on Earth Day, Monday, April 22nd in front of the US EPA Region IX office in San Francisco, California.

Read the press release about the Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice.

See beautiful photos from the event by Tracy Perkins

To see a list of participating organizations, click here

Read the Earth Day Coalition Demands to President Obama, US EPA and California EPA, read here

More information on this event:Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice

 

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Another Kettleman City Child Suffers as Government agencies get ready to try to expand the toxic dump – and we get ready to fight for the kids and for justice!

Posted on: March 14, 2013   By: Bradley Angel

We just received more terrible news from Kettleman City, the small San Joaquin Valley town that is suffering horrible deaths and illnesses among the infants and kids due to the toxic environment they live in. Everyone knows about all the birth defects and infant deaths that hit the national news due to our work, and just a few months ago a two year old died of leukemia.

Today we learned that a nine year old girl was diagnosed with a breast tumor. This should not be happening to the kids of any community, and it is an outrage that our government wants to allow a massive increase in pollution as they get ready to issue permits to expand the violation-plagued Chem Waste Management hazardous waste and PCB landfill. But Greenaction, El Pueblo/People for Clean Air and Water of Kettleman City and our allies are ready to fight any permits issued to expand the dump.

We’ve held up the dump expansion for six years now, and with everyone’s help we can win this fight to protect the kids of Kettleman City.

 

 Return to Ward Valley, Celebrating the Historic Victory and Our Roots

Posted on: February 14, 2013   By: Bradley Angel

I’ve just returned from Ward Valley, a beautiful place in the Mojave Desert near the Colorado River and Needles, California. Ward Valley was the site of Greenaction’s very first action in 1998 – and the site of one of the greatest victories in the history of the environmental justice movement.

Fifteen years ago, on February 12, 1998, Greenaction was 6 weeks old as we joined the Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes and hundreds of other allies at Ward Valley in what was to become the historic and epic 113 day occupation of the proposed nuclear dump site.

US Ecology wanted to drill test holes in the land that the tribes hold sacred. The five Native Nations and the coalition of environmental justice, environmental and indigenous allies united to protect the sacred land from desecration by the test drilling and proposed nuclear dump. The giant and diverse coalition was opposed to the nuclear dump plans not only due to the sacredness of Ward Valley to the tribes, but also because Ward Valley sits on top of an aquifer with numerous pathways to the nearby Colorado River, and is critical habitat to the endangered desert tortoise.

As the federal government continued to ignore these enormous concerns, they left the tribes and environmental justice allies no choice but to take dramatic, non-violent direct action to protect the sacred land and the Colorado River from this radioactive threat. After the Native Nations and allies occupied the site and blocked the test drilling for 113 days through hail, snow, rain, tornadoes and blazing heat, the US government cancelled the test drilling and this led to the ultimate victory – the defeat of the proposed radioactive dump.

This week, on Sunday, February 10, 2013, about 150 tribal members and allies including Greenaction gathered at Ward Valley to commemorate the occupation and celebrate the victory. As traditional Bird Singers sang their ancient songs, youth from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe entered the site after completing a marathon “Spirit Run” into Ward Valley to the cheers of the crowd.

Tribal leaders and elders, and activists including me representing Greenaction, spoke of the importance of the historic stand that was made at Ward Valley in what was the ultimate “David versus Goliath” victory. Also speaking were two of Greenaction’s founding members of our organization and Board of Directors, Steve Lopez of the Fort Mojave Tribe and Alfredo Figueroa, a Chemehuevi who is a leader in La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle.

As we celebrated the Ward Valley victory, we all also dedicated ourselves to continuing to fight to protect the Colorado River, sacred sites and our environment from new threats, including the nuclear power plant proposed in Green River, Utah and the giant mega-solar projects that would pave over huge areas of the desert and destroy ancient culturally significant sites.

 

 

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