West County Toxics Coalition* Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

For immediate release: Saturday, May 31, 2014

Contact Henry Clark, West County Toxics Coalition (925) 435-5757; (925) 978-4129
Bradley Angel, Greenaction (415) 447-3904; cell (415) 722-5270
Megan Zapanta, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (619) 322-1696

Richmond Residents Oppose Crude Oil By Rail Shipments: Residents, Community, Climate & Environmental Justice Groups Take Action at Kinder Morgan’s Rail Yard to Stop Shipments of Crude Oil into Bay Area Communities

 

Richmond, CA –   Richmond residents and community, climate and environmental justice groups protested today at the Kinder Morgan rail yard in Richmond to demand an end to the importation of explosive, toxic crude oil by rail through Bay Area communities.

Ignoring the well-documented risks posed by rail shipments of crude oil, in February the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) issued a permit to Kinder Morgan to operate its crude-by-rail project in Richmond, a working-class community of color already burdened by pollution caused by the fossil fuel industry. BAAQMD issued the permit without public notice or opportunities for public comment.

Protesters are raising awareness about the serious safety and health impacts that crude oil shipments pose to everyone in the region, especially residents living next to the rail yards and train tracks.

“If our government won’t protect our communities from this toxic threat, then the people will!” said Dr. Henry Clark, Director of the West County Toxics Coalition that is based in North Richmond. “We demand environmental and climate justice now.”

“Richmond residents are already over-burdened when it comes to pollution in our community and toxins in our bodies. Trains carrying explosive Bakkan crude oil in and out of our neighborhoods are outright outrageous. It’s like BAAQMD just pulled the pin off of a bomb, allowing it to roll all around town, knowing it’s only a matter of time before it stops ticking, and explode on all of us.” Sandy Saeteurn, Richmond resident and community organizer with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.”

“Our government must stop supporting polluters and start protecting communities from shipments of crude oil that come from environmentally-disastrous fracking and tar sands mining,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. “We want clean, renewable energy, not dirty oil that should stay in the ground.”

The number of trains carrying crude oil has risen dramatically due to increased drilling in both the Alberta tar sands in Canada and the Bakken shale oil area of North Dakota. The number of serious accidents has increased.  Since last summer, several major derailments have involved Bakken crude, which is more volatile than conventional oil. The first, in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, sparked a fire that killed 47 people and leveled the center of the small lakeside town.

Tar sands is a thick, gritty crude that’s produced in western Canada. Tar sands production is having a major environmental impact in Canada, and generates more carbon dioxide emissions and is more difficult to clean up when spilled in water because it’s heavy and sinks. Bakken crude, extracted through hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, is more volatile than conventional oil. Most of the Bakken formation lies in North Dakota, and most of the oil produced there moves out of the state by rail.

Sponsors: West County Toxics Coalition, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Sunflower Alliance, 350 Bay Area, Idle No More/SF Bay, ANSWER/SF, Communities for a Better Environment, Environmental Justice Air Quality Coalition, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Global Community Monitor, Forest Ethics, Amazon Watch, Occupy San Francisco Environmental Justice Working Group

 

 

EARTH DAY COALITION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE

For immediate release: April 22, 2013

For more information:
Bradley Angel/Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice 415-284-5600 x 102, cell 415-722-5270
Nile Malloy/Communities for a Better Environment 510-302-0430 x 11, cell 510-926-5737
Maricela Mares Alatorre/People for Clean Air & Water of Kettleman City 559-816-9298

500 PEOPLE FROM URBAN, RURAL & INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY TOXIC & FOSSIL FUEL POLLUTION DEMAND OBAMA & EPA PROTECT PEOPLE’S HEALTH, OUR COMMUNITIES & CLIMATE – NOT POLLUTERS!

Big Rally in front of USEPA office holds government agencies accountable as protesters peacefully occupy the street and block traffic for two hours.

San Francisco, CA – Top US EPA and California EPA officials were put on the hot seat this Earth Day, when 500 people from 66 community, environmental justice, indigenous, civil rights, health, labor and environmental groups gathered to demand government agencies and the Obama Administration stop protecting polluters and start protecting communities, peoples’ health and our climate.  The Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice in front of US EPA Region IX headquarters in San Francisco opened with Indigenous people conducting a traditional round dance. Protesters from diverse low-income communities of color impacted by pollution listened to speakers and peacefully occupied the street, blocking traffic for two hours. At 2 pm hundreds of people marched to State Department offices to demand that the Administration cancel the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, 20 protesters blocked the door to the building.

The diverse coalition is calling for action on community pollution issues and for policy and regulatory action to address pollution and global climate change. Top EPA officials were present to hear the concerns and receive the demands of urban, rural and indigenous low-income and communities of color impacted by pollution, including:

  • Richmond residents will speak out against Chevron’s failure to replace aging equipment and lax government oversight that caused the fire in August 2012, sending thousands to the hospital.
  • Residents from Bayview Hunters Point, West Oakland, Livermore and other communities will demand the long-overdue prompt and safe cleanup of toxic contamination sites near homes.
  • Residents of Kettleman City in the San Joaquin Valley suffering from birth defects, infant deaths and childhood cancer demand the denial of permits to expand the violation-plagued Chemical Waste Management hazardous waste and PCB landfill in this town that also has contaminated water, pesticides, diesel pollution and fracking.
  • Indigenous people in solidarity with the First Nations of Canada will lead the call for the Obama Administration to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport dirty crude oil from environmentally destructive tar sands in Canada to the US, and will demand an end to desecration of sacred and culturally significant sites.
  • Residents of the Salinas Valley town of Gonzales fighting a proposed plasma arc garbage incinerator will denounce state and federal support for this polluting technology and protest environmental racism.
  • Federal and state agencies will be challenged to comply with and enforce their own civil rights and environmental laws and environmental justice policies, and to deny permits to chronic polluters.

“Residents of low-income communities of color including my community of Kettleman City are sick and tired of being sick and dying from pollution as the government protects polluters instead of people,” said Maricela Mares Alatorre, a Kettleman City resident who traveled 220 miles to join the protest. “We have a right to a healthy environment and justice.”

“From Richmond, Bayview Hunters Point and Oakland, to poor rural communities and Native Nations, people of all colors and walks of life are uniting to demanding action to stop the pollution of our communities and our planet,” said Marie Harrison, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice representative and a Bayview Hunters Point community leader.  “It is time for the President, the Governor and EPA to walk their talk instead of protecting polluters.”

“It’s our democratic right to have an equal say in the decisions that affect our lives and no community should have to sacrifice their children’s health so a polluter can profit,” said Nile Malloy, Northern California Program Director for Communities for a Better Environment. “We need regulators to hold the line, don’t permit toxic projects and be proactive in protecting our children’s health.”

 

A list of the coalition demands and a list of the 66 organizations is at:

http://greenaction.org/earth-day-coalition-demands-to-president-obama-us-epa-and-california-epa/

More on the Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice

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Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice Reaches Agreement with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to Enhance Meaningful Public Involvement in the District’s Permit Actions

February 15, 2013

Greenaction is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to enhance meaningful public involvement in the District’s permit processing actions. The District and Greenaction are pleased with the results of this process and believe it meets the mutual interest of both parties in enhancing public participation.

Expanding the ability of community members, including non-English speakers, to know about and participate in governmental agency decisions that affect their lives is an important precedent that we hope encourages governmental agencies everywhere to provide all people, regardless of the color of their skin, the language they speak or their economic status, meaningful opportunities to participate in government decision-making processes.

In October 2009, Greenaction filed an administrative civil rights complaint against the Air District on behalf of our members in the Spanish-speaking and Latino communities of Kettleman City and Avenal, California. Our administrative complaint alleged that the Air District, a recipient of federal funding, violated Title VI of the U. S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 by approving the Authority to Construct for the proposed Avenal Energy fossil fuel power plant without a public hearing or meaningful opportunities for public involvement in the decision-making process- a decision that we alleged had a prohibited discriminatory impact on the Spanish-speaking and Latino residents. The complaint also alleged that the siting of the power plant next to communities of color already heavily impacted by and suffering from pollution was discriminatory and in violation of Title VI.

Greenaction and the Air District agreed to engage in good faith in federal mediation conducted by the US EPA’s Office of Civil Rights, resulting in this agreement to enhance meaningful public involvement in the District’s permit processing actions. Furthermore, although not covered by the terms of the attached agreement, the District has stated its intention to continue a public process to solicit input from business representatives, community members, and environmental justice organizations on additional measures to enhance public participation.

Please see the attached Settlement Agreement/Public Statement for the full agreement.

Highlights of the Agreement between Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD):

? New Initial Project Notification/Request for Comment

For those project proposals that trigger a Public Comment Notice, APCD will now provide the option to receive short, basic information about the opportunity to provide public comment on a proposal….
Translation of Basic Notices: All basic notices will be distributed in English and Spanish languages, on a single notice.

? New Database/Listserv
For all interested parties APCD will now maintain an interested party/community database listserv.

This will provide for anyone to sign up to:
a) Always receive Public Notice information by email
b) Have the choice to receive either the basic notice or the full notice package.

This database-listserv will include the ability to sign up for Public Notice information by email for different geographic ranges. The choices will include:
o All District
o Specific Regions

? Facility-specific Notification

APCD will maintain lists of parties interested in receiving notification of District permitting activities associated with any specific existing District-permitted facility. Interested parties will be able to specify whether they prefer the basic notice or the full notice package, and whether they prefer to receive the notices via email or mail.

? General Reference Materials

In order to support public comment on the technical aspects of proposed permits APCD will develop and provide the following general reference materials translated into lay language (in English and Spanish or other languages as requested) and made available online or by mail if requested:

a. Explanations of what a Human Health Risk Analysis is and how it is conducted

b. FAQs about common project technical details

El Pueblo Para El Aire y Agua Limpio/People for Clean Air and Water of Kettleman City

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2013

Contact: Maricela Mares Alatorre (559) 583-0800, 816-9298

  KETTLEMAN CITY’S GRIEVING MOTHERS TO CHALLENGE CHEMICAL WASTE MANAGEMENT’S PROPOSED

TOXIC WASTE DUMP EXPANSION, DENOUNCE COMPANY FOR CHRONIC AND SERIOUS PERMIT VIOLATIONS

 “STOP DUMPING YOUR POISONS ON KETTLEMAN CITY! KIDS’ LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAT POLLUTER’S PROFITS!”

Kettleman City, CA – Kettleman City mothers, including mothers of babies lost to birth defects and leukemia, will challenge Chemical Waste Management at tonight’s “Pre-Application” meeting being held by the hazardous waste company as part of the company’s attempt to expand their giant hazardous waste landfill that is plagued with chronic violations that have gone on for decades.

Chem Waste’s proposed dump expansion has been successfully delayed by opposition from residents and environmental justice allies who are alarmed about the company’s terrible track record of violations as well as by the continuing deaths of babies and illnesses in adults and kids that many believe are linked to pollution problems that include the toxic dump, contaminated drinking water, massive diesel pollution, pesticides, smog and oilfield operations.

Chem Waste’s hazardous waste permits expire at the end of June, and the dumping of hazardous waste has been reduced over 99% according to the USEPA due to the landfill running out of space. Residents and environmental justice allies vow to fight each and every permit needed by the company to expand, promising years of battle if necessary in order to stop the dumping on Kettleman City.

Kettleman City mother Ivonne Rangel is the latest victim, as her two year old baby died in November from leukemia.       “I feel bad that Chem Waste will be having this meeting to talk about their expansion permit to try and convince the community to support them. This will affect our health, especially the health of our children and they don’t seem to care about exposing everyone in the community,” said Rangel. “Chem Waste feels the loss of money and profit, but never touch their hearts to feel the loss that we as mothers are left with. No profit will ever cure the pain that lives in me for the loss of my child.”

Maria Saucedo lost her baby who died from birth defects. “I am outraged that I did not receive notice from Chem Waste about this meeting taking place,” Saucedo said. “I feel horrified just thinking that government agencies are even considering giving them the permit to expand even with all the violations and the fact that we still have not had an answer about what caused our babies to be born with birth defects and pass away.

Kettleman City mother Maricela Mares Alatorre says “As a resident of Kettleman City I feel it’s important to be vigilant with Chem Waste as they have shown time and time again that they are incapable of following the permits that regulate them. Numerous violations, including 72 recent violations for unreported spills, prove that this is not a well-run facility as they claim.”

Kettleman City residents and their environmental justice allies across the San Joaquin Valley, the state and nation are preparing to escalate the campaign to block expansion permits and to pressure the company to drop the expansion plans.

# # #

El Pueblo Para el Aire y Agua Limpio/People for Clean Air and Water of Kettleman City
Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2012

Contact:
Maricela Mares-Alatorre/Kettleman City Resident (559) 816-9298
Bradley Angel/Greenaction (415) 7225270 cell
Ingrid Brostrom/Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (415) 346-4179 x 302

State Busts Chemical Waste Management for 72 Violations at Kettleman Hills Toxic Dump, as Another Kettleman City Child Dies:

Kettleman City Residents & Environmental Justice Groups Applaud State Enforcement Action against Chemical Waste Management for Multiple Violations at Hazardous Waste Landfill

Residents and Allies Call on State to Deny Permits to Expand the Chem Waste Toxic Dump Due to the Serious New and Chronic Violations

Kettleman City, CA – Kettleman City residents and their environmental justice allies applaud the Department of Toxic Substances Control for taking enforcement action today against Chemical Waste Management for failing to report 72 toxic spills that took place over 5 years at the controversial Kettleman Hills hazardous waste landfill between 2008 and 2012.

The announcement of years of violations by chronic polluter Chemical Waste Management comes just a few days after another young Kettleman City child died of leukemia, adding to the growing count of infants and adults who have died or suffered serious health impacts in this heavily polluted Central Valley town.

“It’s great to know that laws that are meant to protect the public are actually being enforced,” said Maricela Mares Alatorre, Kettleman City resident and spokeswoman for People for Clean Air and Water of Kettleman City. “For too long they have been given free reign with the result that our health has always been put aside. This is even more important now as Kettleman City gets ready to bury yet another child, a two year old who passed away from leukemia.”

“It is time for the proposed permits to expand this terribly run toxic waste dump be denied,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. “If a Kettleman City resident broke toxic waste laws as many times as Chem Waste has, they would be thrown in jail for life.”

In light of these new violations, the State cannot, in good conscience, allow Chem Waste to expand,” said Ingrid Brostrom, senior attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “Chem Waste’s concealment of evidence from the State and inability to conform to California’s hazardous waste laws should demonstrate that this company cannot be trusted to protect the public’s health.

###

SEE ALSO

– California Department of State Department of Toxics (DTSC) news release: “DTSC Cracks Down on Kettleman Facility for Failing to Report Hazardous Waste Spills” (November 15, 2012) Download now

– DTSC Factsheet, “DTSC Cracks Down on Kettleman Landfill for Failing to Report Hazardous Waste Spills, November 2012 English   Español

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2012

CONTACT:
Monica Wilson, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (510) 883-9490 x 103
Bradley Angel, Greenaction (415) 284-5600 x 102, (415) 722-5270

The New York Times Gets It Right:

Plasma Incineration ‘Sounds Too Good to be True’

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Sept. 13 –The New York Times says a waste incineration technology called plasma arc gasification “sounds too good to be true.” The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice say here’s a reason: The technology fails every test that would qualify it as an environmentally sound solution to dealing with waste.

In an article published Sept. 11 the Times sees a bright future for plasma incineration as a way to generate energy from trash. The article notes GAIA’s opposition to plasma incineration and to the technology receiving renewable energy tax credits, but fails to explain why.

“Instead of a clean, safe waste-from-energy miracle,” says GAIA Program Director Monica Wilson, “plasma incineration is a very expensive way to burn valuable resources that could be recycled, while producing meager amounts of energy.“

“Plasma arc has a dismal record of failures and wildly false claims,” says Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice.  “Industry claims of zero emissions, no dioxin and significant energy generation are simply not true.”

Consider this track record:

  •  A plasma test facility operated by Plasco in Ottawa, Canada, could only process small amounts of garbage, could not generate significant energy and was plagued with dozens of exceedences of pollution limits.
  • The Utashinai, Japan plasma incinerator mentioned in the article has had problems with energy generation and processes only small amounts of waste. In 2008, the city of Sacramento considered a company using the same technology. When a representative of the Sacramento Economic Development agency visited the facility, he found it was not generating any electricity to the grid, even though the facility was using the dirty fossil fuel (coke) to help generate energy for the plasma process.
  •  A company mentioned in the article, InEnTec, has a history of failed plasma facilities in Washington and Hawaii. When the company attempted to build a medical waste plasma incinerator in Red Bluff, California, a public process examining the proposed facility’s permit found that InEnTec intentionally mislead the authorities about its technology, emissions, and the poor record of facilities they falsely claimed were successfully operating.

Recycling creates jobs, saves money and protects the environment and public health. It’s not too good to be true, because it works.

 

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Asamblea de Poder Popular de Gonzales
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Contact: Bradley Angel, Greenaction 415-284-5600 x 102; 415-722-5270 (cell)
Roberta Camacho, Asamblea de Poder Popular de Gonzales 831-262-6135
Julia Rocha, Asamblea 831-905-7289

For Immediate Release: July 19, 2012

Toxic Scandal and Bombshell Emails!

Greenaction Releases Internal Emails Between Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority & Plasco About Controversial Plasma Arc Incinerator Proposed in Gonzales

Documents Acquired Through Public Records Act Request Prove Improper Collusion, Cover-up, Lack of Transparency and Spying on Residents
– and Reveal Plasco Project In Deep Trouble, EIR Process Secretly Put on Hold

PLEASE NOTE: COPIES OF THESE EMAILS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST TO GREENACTION

Gonzales, CA – Internal emails between the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority and the Canadian company Plasco reveal that the controversial Plasco project is in serious and potentially fatal trouble and that the SVSWA and Plasco are involved in collusion and engaging in improper actions in their desperate attempt to site the nation’s first plasma arc garbage incinerator plant in the farming town of Gonzales in the Salinas Valley.

Gonzales and Salinas Valley residents, along with community, environmental justice and recycling groups have actively opposed the Plasco project, and these emails will serve to embolden the already intense opposition.

The emails were acquired through a Public Records Act request filed on June 9th with the SVSWA by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. The Public Records Act request asked for copies of emails and other written communications between the SVSWA and Plasco from January 1, 2012 to June 8, 2012, as well as communications between SVSWA and the Governor’s office.

The emails reveal the following:

  • SVSWA and Plasco worked together to compile and share information on “vocal individuals” who oppose the proposed Plasco garbage plant.
  • SVSWA and Plasco worked together to draft proposed special interest legislation in the hopes of exempting Plasco from state law that says gasification plants that emit pollution are not eligible for Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) designation.
  • Plasco and SVSWA engaged in withholding vital information from the public, including that the Plasco project is in big trouble, Plasco has put a hold on the Environmental Impact Report process, and Plasco did not proceed with the Fish and Game agency’s biological/endangered species test that was required.
  • Plasco asked SVSWA not to “share” the controversial letter from the Governor’s office about Plasco due to concerns about public perceptions of the letter.
  • Plasco says that another result of the CalRecycle decision stripping them of RPS eligibility status is the likely loss of their “nondisposal” facility status, potentially a fatal blow to the project.

Gonzales and Salinas Valley residents, along with community, environmental justice and recycling groups are opposing the Plasco project, because it is based on a flawed technology that heats garbage and then burn gases and emit toxins into the air. Community residents expressed shock and outrage at the emails that have been uncovered, which show clear evidence of improper collusion between SVSWA and Plasco, as well as cover-up, attempts to subvert democracy and transparency and an ominous monitoring of opponents to the project, all of which belies claims by SVSWA that it will not make a decision to support the project until the Environmental Impact Report required by California is completed.

“How dare the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority gather information on residents who oppose Plasco, collude with this Canadian company to write special interest legislation, and hide the fact that the project is in big trouble and facing huge delays,” said Bronwyn Moreno, Gonzales resident. “This confirms what we have suspected all along, that the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority has made up their mind to push the Plasco garbage plant in our community regardless of the facts.”

Highlights of some of the more scandalous emails include:

1. The Plasco project is in big trouble, Plasco is delaying the EIR, and Plasco did not proceed with the Fish and Game agency’s biological/endangered species test, triggering a one year delay.

On March 28th, Plasco wrote to Susan Warner of SVSWA:

“To reconfirm our direction, Plasco wishes to maintain a hold on all EIR activities other than those underway and necessary to complete the EIR scoping effort. We understand this will delay the biological field survey and may cause a delay in the issuance of the Draft EIR.”

A March 16th email from Susan Warner to Plasco refers to the “limited window of opportunity for site observation for sensitive species which is required by Fish and Game….The impact will result in a one year delay to conduct the required studies.”

2. Plasco asked SVSWA to keep the Governor’s letter to Plasco secret from the public.

In a June 1st email from Alisdair Mclean/Plasco Vice-President, to SVSWA, McLean writes the following about the controversial letter from the Governor’s office to Plasco: “Hi Patrick, Please don’t share this quite yet. I’m not clear on whether public knowledge of this is good or bad.”

3. Plasco and SVSWA worked together to develop language for proposed special interest state legislation that would specifically help Plasco get around CalRecycle’s ruling denying the project RPS eligibility.

There are many emails showing SVSWA and Plasco working together on special interest legislative language, with Plasco doing most of the writing. The goal of this legislative effort (which failed) was to try to exempt Plasco from state law regarding qualifying as renewable energy under the State’s RPS program.

4. Plasco says the CalRecycle ruling was worse than just losing their “gasification” designation and could cause 18 month delay or worse.

In a June 4th email from Alisdair McLean/Plasco to Patrick Matthews/SVSWA, McLean says the loss of the gasification designation also took away their status as a “nondisposal” facility. McLean writes “That means that the County Siting Element needs to be amended, which requires a double majority process that could take as long as 18 months with debate in each city council chambers.”

5. SVSWA and Plasco met and are compiling information on “the more vocal individuals we have encountered and we explored how/if they could be directed.” See the March 9, 2012 email. Asamblea and Greenaction believe that SVSWA and Plasco have no business compiling information on residents who oppose the project and are exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.