Wednesday, June 28, 2006

For ailing residents of Kelly’s toxic triangle, answers are hard to come by

from the San Antonio Current (FRONT PAGE!!)
featuring CEJA leaders

Victor San Miguel stands on the porch of his dilapidated white-frame house on Hollenbeck Avenue and points across the street. Without taking a step off his property, San Miguel provides a quick tour of his neighborhood, but it’s a grim tour, like a slow walk through a cemetery.

“The woman in that house has leukemia,” he says matter of factly. “The one next to her has breast cancer, and another one over there has leukemia.”

San Miguel, a 60-year-old retired wrecker-driver, has lived on Hollenbeck for 27 years. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and his wife also suffers thyroid problems. He walks slowly and speaks in a hoarse murmur, and his right eyelid is almost perpetually shut. But his tattooed arms are muscular and he maintains an aura of toughness, albeit a fragile toughness.

San Miguel’s home is only a couple of blocks away from East Kelly — a section of what used to be Kelly Air Force Base that recently came to be known as Port San Antonio. It’s about five blocks east of a Union Pacific Railroad crossing that divides these neighborhoods from the bulk of the former military base, an aircraft storage and maintenance facility with roots that go back to 1916. In other words, he lives smack in the middle of what residents call the “toxic triangle,” a group of more than 20,000 homes that sit above a plume of contaminated groundwater filled with chemicals dumped or leaked by Kelly employees — contaminants such as Trichloroethene (TCE), an industrial solvent used to clean machinery at the base, and Tetrachloroethene (PERC, or PCE), a paint-stripper with dangerous side effects.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another South is Possible!!

6 delegates from SWU attended the Southeast Social Forum in Durham North Carolina, June 16-18. This event brought together grassroots social justice activities from all over the region for panels, workshops, cultural events and information sharing. Over 550 people registered in this first regional forum that is building towards the US Social Forum in Altanta in June 2007. This served as a valuable place to continue to build on our relationships with the South and meet more organizations. We saw many familiar faces.

SWU organized a workshop on Climate Justice and Oil in the Gulf Coast, the Border Social Forum and participated in the Black-Brown Alliance Building discussion.

Many thanks to Project South for their amazing work to make this happen and to Tin and Alexis for connecting us with the local culture.

Hear SWU's own superstar, Genaro Rendon, on the radio from the Southeast Social Form

CEJA Neighborhood Committees

SWU-CEJA have launched neighborhood organizing committees for North Kelly Gardens, Toxic Triange/South San and Normoyle Park/East Kelly. Community leaders are preparing for the upcoming Environmental Cleanup Roundtable, the Military Contamination Conference and the March for Community Lives.

The aim is to reestablish a strong core of leaders in each neighborhood to facilitate the outreach, mobilizing and education of residents.

Thanks to the folks who opened their houses for the meetings.