Sliska Larry read the proposed operating permit for the expanded Clean Harbors hazardous waste disposal site, less than 2 miles from her home, with her 9-year-old grandson at her side. She instinctively pulled him closer, as if to shield him, as she absorbed its details. “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Larry said. The preliminary draft permit, which the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued last week, allows Clean Harbors to continue the open burning and open detonation of materials for at least another eight months. The facility disposes of outdated munitions from several military bases, including the shuttered National Guard training site at Camp Minden, and old fireworks from Disney World.
There was a time in the last century when we, quite foolishly, believed incineration to be a superior means of waste disposal than landfills. And, for decades, many of America's most disadvantaged have been paying for those decisions with with their lifespans. South Baltimore's Curtis Bay neighborhood, for example, is home to two medical waste incinerators and an open-air coal mine. It's ranked in the 95th percentile for hazardous waste and boasts among the highest rates of asthma and lung disease in the entire country. The city's largest trash incinerator is the Wheelabrator–BRESCO, which burns through 2,250 tons of garbage a day. It has been in operation since the 1970s, belching out everything from mercury and lead to hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and chromium into the six surrounding working-class neighborhoods and the people who live there.
Eastern Venezuela is home to extensive petroleum extraction and processing operations which have their hub in the cities of Barcelona and Puerto la Cruz in Anzoátegui state. The Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi Commune, one of the most advanced communes in the country, grew up in the shadow of this multibillion-dollar business in one of Barcelona's working-class neighborhoods. This is a rapidly-growing commune – remarkable because of its success in an urban context – which focuses on recycling and waste disposal to maintain itself. In Part I of this two-part series, Luisa Caceres’ communards explain the challenges of building a commune in a country besieged by US imperialism.
Sherri White-Williamson lives about three miles from a pork processing plant in Clinton, North Carolina. On a good day, the air smells fresh, tainted by a minor whiff of rotten egg and sewage. On a bad day, the odor from the plant is so strong, she has to keep her windows closed. The smell wafts into a local elementary school, nearby restaurants, churches, and the county history museum. Those who live and work in the area say they have to keep fans, candles, and air fresheners running at all hours to make the air tolerable. The problem is even worse for people living down the road in rural Sampson County, near large hog farms, where they must endure more potent odors and pollution coming from the lagoons filled with waste, and the systems that spray waste onto fields as fertilizer.
A major victory for Canada’s First Nations has just been won in Ontario. On January 31, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) overwhelmingly voted down the proposed deep geological repository (DGR) for storage of low- and intermediate-level radioactive nuclear waste next to Lake Huron. The DGR had long been proposed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), but in 2013 OPG had committed to SON that it would not build the DGR without their support.
On 12 July 2019, a twelve-year-old girl from Gresik (Indonesia), Aeshnina Azzahra, wrote a letter to US President Donald Trump. The letter was delivered to the US embassy in Jakarta and released to the press. ‘My country’, she wrote, ‘is the second largest contributor to waste. And some of that waste is your waste’. Then, she asked three powerful and sincere questions: ‘Why do you always export your waste to my country? Why don’t you take care of your own waste? Why do we have to feel the impact of your waste?’
Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash. After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately. But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash.
Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a bill on Monday that would force the city’s Wheelabrator trash incinerator to dramatically reduce its emissions of pollutants or shut down. 14 of 15 council people voted yes; one, Councilman Kris Burnett (D-8), was absent. The bill, co-sponsored by 13 of 15 council people, will now go to Mayor Pugh’s desk for final approval. “Mayor Pugh is 100% for clean air but she will need to review the legislation,” said a representative from her office. The incinerator burns most of the city’s trash, and also burns trash from surrounding localities.
Between 2011 and 2016, fracked oil and gas wells in the U.S. pumped out record-breaking amounts of wastewater, which is laced with toxic and radioactive materials, a new Duke University study concludes. The amount of wastewater from fracking rose 1,440 percent during that period. Over the same time, the total amount of water used for fracking rose roughly half as much, 770 percent, according to the paper published today in the journal Science Advances. “Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data from the early years of fracking,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement.
By Dharna Noor for The Real News Network - DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Dharna Noor joining you from Baltimore. There's a growing awareness that meat production puts a strain on water, land use and habitats, and that it increases greenhouse gas emissions, which drives climate change. But few know the largest environmental impact actually comes from what the animals are being fed. To discuss a recent study on this topic, it's from the UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund, and it's titled Appetite for Destruction. We're joined by Duncan Williamson. He's the food policy manager for WWF UK. Thanks for joining us today, Duncan. D. WILLIAMSON: Well, thank you very much for having me. DHARNA NOOR: So, your recent report says that producing crops to feed livestock is putting an enormous strain on our natural resources, and it's a driving force behind wide scale biodiversity loss. How does livestock feed actually have that kind of impact? D. WILLIAMSON: It's two things. It's the numbers of animals that we're producing globally, and where we are growing the crops to feed them, so for example, we know there's 23 billion poultry animals on the world at the moment. That's enough for three animals each basically, and most of these animals are grown in intensive systems, so they don't have access to the outside, so they have to be fed on something, and their feed tends to be maize and soy.
By Abrahm Lustgarten for ProPublica - IN AUGUST 2016, an inspector from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arrived at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, a nerve center for the U.S. military’s global air combat operations, to conduct a routine look at the base’s handling of its hazardous waste. Barksdale, like many military bases, generates large volumes of hazardous materials, including thousands of pounds of toxic powder left over from cleaning, painting and maintaining airplanes. For years, Barksdale had been sending a portion of its waste to an Ohio company, U.S. Technology Corp., that had sold officials at the base on a seemingly ingenious solution for disposing of it: The company would take the contaminated powder from refurbished war planes and repurpose it into cinderblocks that would be used to build everything from schools to hotels to big-box department stores — even a pregnancy support center in Ohio. The deal would ostensibly shield the Air Force from the liabililty of being a large producer of dangerous hazardous trash. The arrangement was not unique. The military is one of the country’s largest polluters, with an inventory of toxic sites on American soil that once topped 39,000. At many locations, the Pentagon has relied on contractors like U.S. Technology to assist in cleaning and restoring land, removing waste, clearing unexploded bombs, and decontaminating buildings, streams and soil.
By Staff of Waterkeeper Alliance - Washington, D.C. – A first-of-its-kind interactive map revealing the locations of more than 6,500 concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, across the state of North Carolina was released today by Waterkeeper Alliance, North Carolina Riverkeeper organizations and Environmental Working Group (EWG). In addition to swine and cattle CAFOs, the project documents the locations of over 3,900 poultry operations, which up until now have been shielded from the people of North Carolina.
Protesters clad in hazmat suits protested over the weekend at the ExxonMobil refinery gates in Torrance in response to what they called the company’s “lackluster response” to community complaints in the aftermath of a plant explosion last week. A Faceback post by the United Steel Workers union identified the protesters as “a squadron of USW Local 675 commandos” backed by Occupy Wall Street members. They dumped a pile of manure at the refinery to protest ExxonMobil’s delayed response to inquiries about whether the ash-like debris released from the refinery posed any health risks. The steelworkers claim the debris could be harmful to human health.
Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant have detected a fresh leak of highly radioactive water to the sea, the plant's operator announced Sunday, highlighting difficulties in decommissioning the crippled plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the sensors, which were rigged to a gutter that pours rain and ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to a nearby bay, detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant campus. TEPCO said its emergency inspections of tanks storing nuclear waste water did not find any additional abnormalities, but the firm said it shut the gutter to prevent radioactive water from going into the Pacific Ocean. The higher-than-normal levels of contamination were detected at around 10 am (0100 GMT), with sensors showing radiation levels 50 to 70 times greater than usual, TEPCO said.
The youth of South Baltimore have scored another round in their fight to keep a mammoth waste incinerator out of their neighborhood. Baltimore County’s regional cooperative purchasing committee voted to end their contract with the company Energy Answers, which has plans to build a $1 billion solid waste-to-energy facility in the working class neighborhood of Curtis Bay. (Ever watch The Wire? Season Two? That neighborhood.) The youth organizing group Free Your Voice, made up of students who live or attend school close to the proposed incinerator site, has been mobilizing friends, neighbors, teachers, and other school administrators over the past three years toreject the waste-burning facility. As fans of The Wire may remember, Curtis Bay is already overrun with pollution-heavy industrial operations and port activity.