mun2 News: Toxic City: This is Where I Live
Submitted by otssupport on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 00:00
Seventy-one percent of Hispanics live in counties that violate air pollution standards. In Toxic City: This is Where I Live, mun2 profiles Latino youth in highly polluted communities who are fighting for their families in causes of environmental justice. Watch and learn about our community's struggles and the effects of daily exposure to environmental hazards of air pollution, water contamination, as well as other health risks.
Transcript. [ ALARM WAILS ] If industry can come in and think they can get away with it because the community might not say anything, they will. We want to ensure that they're following the regulations. Residents who live within a two-mile radius of two or more facilities, it's about 70 percent of Latinos and African-Americans. "That we won't take this sitting down. "We're standing up against them and refusing their exploitation." I was so surprised to know everything – All the contamination, all the people that are involved in this cleanup. Once I found out that there was a genuine way to go out and effect change, I just went for it. Before there was la pobreska, I was already in the ska scene, And I was already working at the Allen Theatre. And I started focusing on other things, and I started reading a lot. That's when I started getting more progressive. I'm just really dedicated to the band, you know? I would do anything for these guys. I just – I really – There's a lot of energy. I put a lot of myself into it. And the band kind of fits into everything because we're really progressive, we have a progressive message, and we're bringing out something real and true. That fits into everything I do already because I'm doing the same thing, just on different subject issue. I'm bringing out the real and the truth about what's going on in the community. The band and all the work That I do for CBE – They kind of reinforce each other, because they're both kind of on the same side. When you think about it, in the big sense of the way things are going, you know? 'Cause in life, especially in the work that I do, there are some times you got to do things that make you nervous or you'd just rather not do. And the only way to actually get through it and actually do it is by numbing that feeling and just going for it. There's this thing that nobody even knows about or talks about, really, called "environmental racism," where there's a disproportionate amount of pollution that's concentrated in these low-income communities of color. And it's an injustice at the level of where the air you breathe is not even clean enough for you to sustain a healthy life. Once I found out that there was a genuine way to go out and effect change, I just went for it. The city of Vernon wants to build a 943-megawatt power plant less than one mile from our office and also from six schools. Our goal should be to try to cut these emissions down that are already in our area, not add new sources which are gonna make even more pollution in our area. If you talk about the concentration of residents who live within a two-mile radius of two or more facilities, it's about 70 percent of Latinos and African-Americans. So, the Vernon power plant will roughly be in that area. So they're talking about adding a whole nother source of pollution to this area that's already heavily impacted with pollution. So it's like -- we already have this much, and they're just trying to add that much more, and that's what we're trying to fight against. In this community, we have all the pollution that hits us from Vernon because we're downwind from the city. And so all of the things that are going to impact us need to be assessed. To me, it makes a lot of sense to draw a parallel to the Prius. Nobody marches against Priuses. Nobody says, "Oh, we shouldn't have those. We don't need any more." But for some reason, people are marching against the Vernon power plant and saying, "We don't need any more power plants." But we do. We have old ones that will eventually stop running. No matter what we try and do, they'll stop. Eventually, they'll wear out. All: El Paso! El Paso! Let's get to work! Woman: Uno...dos...tres. Ivamos a trabajar! Asarco is going to bring in initially 1,800 jobs. And then there's a spin-off of jobs that are created With that kind of money. We got to go through all these extra hoops That no one else in the state of Texas has ever had to go through for a permit -- a simple permit renewal. But at the end of the day, we now have the science that says it's not gonna be a health problem. It's not gonna cause or contribute to a condition of air pollution. The workers are safe, as always. And I think that's excellent. I mean, that's what this community needs. The Smelter's right next to campus. It's within minutes of here. If it opens, it is our job to continue trying to do this outreach to the public. We want to ensure that they're following the regulations. So, regardless if it opens or not, it's not gonna determine the end of the battle. We're gonna continue on. Let's hope that Vernon really hears this. Let's hope that AQMD find – knows that the people, the community, really don't want this power plant. No tengo miedo no tengo miedo a lo que digan I was so surprised to know everything – All the contamination, all the people that are involved in this cleanup, and I was so surprised about it. We have the Duwamish River, which is a superfund site, which means it's one of the most contaminated places on the planet. A superfund site are those sites that the federal government has designated as the worst sites, where there's hazardous waste, where there's toxic materials, and they pose an imminent health threat. I didn't know that much information about it, but after I started having different classes and we started doing community service, and I liked that, And I realized That's what I like to do – Community service. Oh, I didn't actually get a chance to tell you – The Duwamish cleanup members met yesterday, and you're now officially hired. They voted to offer you a stipend from now through the end of the year to be a youth peer leader 10 hours a week, okay? That's good. Today is your first day. Thank you. So, Yay! Every social movement that has been successful in this country has involved young people and students, whether it was the peace and justice, antiwar, civil rights, women's movement, and I think the environmental justice movement is just as important. Ryan: H.P., Huntington Park, has this name – It's called "Asthma Town" because so many residents have asthma – myself included. Just the power plant being built, anybody who has any kind of respiratory illness, it's just gonna get worse for them. Certainly, the input of 881 tons per year of contaminants in the air of our local community has to have an impact, especially on those suffering from asthma, bronchitis, and especially those illnesses. Crowd: no. AQMD's assessment – the final conclusion of the assessment was that there was no significant health risk. Now, in that analysis, they did go look at potential risks, and I know the monsignor quoted one of them. Once you have a kid that's sick, $90 million cannot pay or bring back his health. Once a person dies -- the AQMD estimates in their study there will be something like four to 11 deaths per year. Some studies -- some studies will predict that there is a potential health risk over the 30 years of the plant's use. Let's hope that Vernon really hears this. Let's hope that AQMD find -- knows that the people, the community really don't want this power plant here. They really can't have it. There's too many health issues, there's too many Political issues, there's too much money going around, and it's not gonna happen. If industry can come in and think they can get away with it because the community might not say anything, they will. And they might not ask questions. They might not get in an uproar. They'll do it because they can. Show me another major city In the United States that has somebody that allows thousands of tons of lead to be emitted into the air, thousands of tons of arsenic to be emitted into the air, sulfur dioxide, sulfur. I've heard that they did more production than was going to Juárez. And this affects not only Juárez, it affects Chaparral, New Mexico, El Paso, all the little tiny communities in the area, and they're definitely Latino communities. It really affects them. [ Shouting in Spanish ] Asarco is there, and the university is here. And then people from the university don't even realize that just crossing the border there are very poor people that live here. I was talking to her, and she said that she doesn't know anything about ASARCO. And it's very interesting, because there are a lot of newcomers that they come just to work for the maquilas. And they don't know anything, because ASARCO has been closed for 10 years. That's why they are not interested in fighting against ASARCO. The problem is that we have to let them know what is happening, and I think that people have to be empowered and make their own decisions. My dad – he was – I guess that you could say I get a lot of what I do from him, because of just all the stuff he did, even though I'd want to just hang out or go with my friends or go to the movies instead of going out with him. I look back – it was like, "I should have done it," because I didn't have him around that long. Rosa: He was concerned about many things, but, again, the water infrastructure was very important to him. He was also – I don't know If Ryan has told you that he had a toxic-waste incinerator in Vernon, and he fought very hard against that. My dad is right there, 'Cause he was mayor from '91 to '92 and from '92 to '93. That's why his picture's up there. I guess he was just really A public servant, like he really went out of his way to help people and get it done. The fact that he got involved has me very motivated, and I'm glad. I like to see that in him. I like to see that in him. Ryan: When I feel or when I hear little hints that mom is interested or being supportive of me and my environmental work, it makes me feel like I'm doing something right in her eyes. It's fulfilling to know that she's actually supportive of something that I'm actually interested in. What's your name? My name is Naoiki. What is it? Naoiki. How do you spell that? "N..." "N"? "...a..." Today we had the two language groups. We had The Spanish-speaking students, and we also had Japanese groups. And there was a lot of conversation going on and information sharing, and that gives me a lot of hope that these students, in whatever state, whatever interest they have with their school, and whatever program they're going to pursue, that they absorb some information about environmental justice. And so I found that really positive. And hopefully, maybe they'll even stay in touch. I mean, who knows? It was great to see that. I want to thank you all for coming here today to show these oppressors that we're not gonna take this sitting down. Muerte. No, after Lois finishes her translation, then we'll -- well, 'cause I want to say my whole speech, and then he's gonna say it all in Spanish, or I could even... I think they should just die onstage. Woman: Ready? Die cute, everyone. [ Alarm Blaring ] [ Laughter ] Come on! Ryan: Right now, we're trying to organize a candlelight vigil, have this mass demonstration of just people upon people with their candles and their coffins and their gas masks. We're serious. We mean business. And we're not gonna stop fighting till this power plant is not built. "That we won't take this sitting down. We're standing up against them and refusing their exploitation." They're building this power plant in a low-income, working-class community where people of color reside. What about pregnant women? What about babies? What about people who can't afford healthcare? What about people who are already sick, People who already have asthma and bronchitis and birth defects and cancer? Woman: What about the people? What about the people? That's why I want to thank you all for coming here today to show these oppressors that we're not gonna take this sitting down. Woman: While they're setting up, I'm just gonna tell you a little bit about what we're gonna be doing. We have a handmade teleprompter, So you all will be able to read the signs. What they'll be asking you to do is -- Let me go through them real quick. We'll be cueing you to say that as they're filming. So you all can go ahead and practice your enthusiasm. Man: One of the main things to keep in mind today is if anyone comes around for ASARCO, all three of them, and they start kind of trying to push buttons, just don't pay attention to them. If they start annoying you, we've got police right there. And they have a right to be here just like we do. We just don't want them disrupting the event. Los llevan y nosotros vamos por el lado. ¿Aquí están todos? Sí, están. Just go ahead and go this way, and that's where the picture will be taken. We're here because we don't want ASARCO to open. And we're gonna take a picture, a big photo shoot, so he can see how many people are against ASARCO. Man: We want you to turn around and wave "bye-bye" to ASARCO. Would you like to come? Yeah. Okay, from 10:00 a.m. To 2:00 p.m. Want to write it down? Yeah. I think your parish has a lot more information, too. Well, you can take this one. Young man: My name is Mariyer. I am very inspired by them because they are local people and they are in high school. Many people don't do that, So, actually, I'm very inspired by them. It's not as simple as everybody -- When you're young, you think the world's simple and it's all black and white and it's good and bad -- it's, like, you know, wrong and right. But when you get into the whole realm of politics and everything, everything is so twisted, and it's all everywhere. You don't know who to trust. You don't know who's doing what. You don't know who's the good guy, who's the bad guy. It's a lot more complicated and complex. [ Girl in a Coma's "clumsy sky" plays ] Picture me away are we all right now? Are we all right now? Something's gone and happened you're staring off now to the sky you were staring off now hush, heart, just play dumb you are waiting on
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