CLOSE PUERTO RICO’S TOXIC LANDFILLS. URGE EPA TO END AN ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE TO THE PEOPLE OF PUERTO RICO
We call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fulfill its mandate in protecting public health in our communities and immediately close Puerto Rico’s most toxic and dangerous municipal landfills.
People of color deserve equal protection from environmental and health hazards that are provided for by our environmental laws. For over 20 years, the government of Puerto Rico has been delegated the enforcement authority to regulate Puerto Rico’s municipal landfills. Over all this time, nearly all of these landfills have been in serious violation of basic environmental protection laws. This is by definition an environmental injustice. EPA has documented that more than two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s 27 landfills are not in compliance with federal and local environmental rules. Shutting down these landfills and building properly compliant landfills is the answer to fixing this problem.
Nearly all these toxic landfills lack legally required controls on toxic liquids produced in landfills, known as “leachates”, which has allowed toxins to run into community soil and groundwater for decades. Many of these toxic sites have the potential of polluting drinking water sources on the island; several of the landfills in violation are located on top of the largest aquifer in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico government and the EPA have repeatedly documented the lack of controls on toxins at these sites and yet the landfills have been allowed to continue operating, continue accepting trash and solid waste, and continue poisoning communities. Most of the sites are also not properly covered, and have never had systems to monitor methane gas accumulation as required by law. With so many dangerous sites in so many communities in Puerto Rico for decades, the scale of this crisis places Puerto Rico at risk of being another public health emergency.
The EPA knows the sites are dangerous and has yet to force their closure, potentially putting underrepresented communities in direct harm for generations. The harm faced by the families living near Puerto Rico’s landfills, in a U.S. territory facing an unprecedented economic and fiscal crisis, is an intolerable form of environmental injustice that cannot stand.
We call upon the EPA to take immediate action, correct this injustice, protect the people of Puerto Rico, and close toxic municipal landfills that have been in violation of the law for years.
The tragedy of Flint has taught us a great deal about how poor governance can lead to a poisoning of a community. It happened after a decade or more of waning attention to crucial environmental concerns down at the level where Americans live, in their neighborhoods and in homes, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. What is particularly troubling about the crisis in Flint is that it is a clear example of how communities of color and low-income communities are often left behind. It's not surprising that a predominantly low-income, predominantly African-American city is facing the most egregious form of environmental injustice. Those who depend the most on government too often are the ones facing the greatest harm, and lack the know-how and political power to address the damage, risk and discrimination they face from this unequal protection. Worse, in some cases, the elected officials that claim to represent them turn a blind eye. Unfortunately, Flint is just one example.read more
May 03, 2016Continue reading
GreenLatinos is excited to Announce that the organization will host one of nine Frank Karel Fellows in 2016. The Karel Fellowship honors and advances the legacy of Frank Karel, who established, led and nurtured the field of strategic communications during his 30 years as chief communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations. Karel believed that racial and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in the public interest communications field and that foundations and public interest organizations needed to be proactive in recruiting and nurturing broader participation and leadership in public interest communications and advocacy.read more
Several weeks ago a coalition of Puerto Rican residents who have come together under the name “Puerto Rico Limpio” reached out to me about their struggles with several landfills that were environmental hazards to a number of their communities. The group members had heard that GreenLatinos was effective in tackling serious environmental issues impacting Latinos, that we had several successes at the federal level, and they wanted us to come to down to Puerto Rico and see first-hand what they continue to deal with every day.read more
Latino and Indigenous Leaders Call for an Investigation into the Assassination of Lenca Environment Activist Berta CáceresFULL STATEMENT PDF HERE Latino and Indigenous Leaders Call for an Investigation into the Assassination of Lenca Environment Activist Berta Cáceres, Justice for Those Responsible Solidarity Statement Demands Increased Protection for Environmental and Human Rights Activists throughout the Americas. Washington, D.C. -- Yesterday, March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres, a Lenca environmental activist and indigenous leader in Honduras, was assassinated in her home while she slept. The prescient words she spoke upon receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize came true: “The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirit of the young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and this planet.” Berta Cáceres, 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner We express our condolences to her family, COPINH, and all those who knew her and loved her. We are deeply outraged for this senseless act and echo the words shared by so many indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights leaders, and environmental organizations - there must be accountability and justice. Berta Caceres was honored and celebrated for her work in Honduras fighting for the right of self-determination of the Lenca people who were not consulted and did not consent to the Agua Zarca Dam projected for construction on the sacred Gaualcarque River. Her leadership and advocacy helped pressure the International Finance Corporation to withdraw from funding the project in 2013.read moreDo you like this page?