Tuesday, November 29, 2005
enough is enough
As the Air Force claims to be remediating their decades of deadly contamination, it is failing and the EPA, TCEQ and City is merely watching complacently, ignoring the dangers it poses to thousands of residents living near the former base. As the Air Force is trying to pack up their bags and leave behind their mess, what happens when another one of the ineffective technologies breaks?
From the San ANtonio Current
A big spill at Kelly
More than 45,000 gallons of chlorinated solvents were spilled at the former Kelly Air Force Base last month, contaminating areas outside and inside the groundwater treatment plant.
According to an Air Force document presented at a Kelly Air Force Base Restoration meeting, at 11 p.m. on October 5, an ultraviolet oxidation recovery machine, which is used to treat contaminated groundwater, shut down because of low water flow. However, because of a computer error, groundwater from recovery wells continued to arrive at the Zone 4 treatment plant, overflowing a holding tank.
By 7:30 the next morning, when a contractor noticed the spill, more than 36,000 gallons of groundwater contaminated with PCE, TCE, and DCE had been released outside the building; about 9,000 gallons were inside the building. Short-term exposure to the chemicals can cause drowsiness, skin irritation, and headaches; persons exposed to high levels can faint. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage and cancer.
Air Force officials immediately shut down the system and began removing water in the building, disposing it at a nearby plant on base. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was also notified.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
SWU co-convened and participated on a whirlwind trip and strategy session that covered visits to several local community organizations in Jackson, New Orleans, Gulfport & the United Houma Nation. Over 35 organizations joined the Gulf Coast Justice & Solidarity Tour to hear first-hand the stories of the people and workers in the Gulf and present a united front for solutions from the ground-up. The delegations, representing organizations across the nation and as far away as Kenya converged for this 6 day hands-on experience to offer unconditional solidarity and a committment to support the work of grassroots organizations and communities in the region.
The stories are endless and yet each one very unique: shortly after the hurricane Latinos and the homeless were dragged from shelters (some in the shower) and told they had to leave; a group of 40 stranded folks in Alabama pleaded for help and were given old bananas by the Red Cross relief center; immigrant workers at the naval base in New Orleans living in tents without protection not paid for 8 weeks; eviction notices that line the streets when families have yet to find each other not to mention return; police and army are the only so-called ‘relief’ seen in the city; community relief center leaders beaten and arrested; Halliburton earning over $3,000 profit per roof to put a blue tarp over damaged roofs; in San Antonio, displaced peoples were houses at the most contaminated site in the city, Kelly Air Force Base…
Seeing the destruction, devastation and exploitation was sharply contrasted by the hope and strength of the affected communities that have united to rebuild a better community. Despite everything, Community folks and displaced people were rebuiling their homes, organizing and providing relief supplies to each other, and opening new spaces to maintain community. Movement building and convergence were the anchors of the tour. Relationships and plans were developed to continue a long-term just rebuilding of the gulf coast. Many thanks to all the participants and hosts of this event.