As City Council prepares to vote on whether or not to allow more industrial contamination in
For decades the
As City Council prepares to vote on whether or not to allow more industrial contamination in
For decades the
That crowd included some high school students who donned white T-shirts emblazoned with red letters that stated: "Stop Environmental Racism: No More Fuel Storage Tanks."
District 2 City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil scheduled the meeting to hear more opinions on the rezoning requested by Redifuel. City Council is scheduled to consider the change at Thursday's meeting. McNeil asked for a 30-day continuance at the council's Jan. 4 meeting.
Redifuel wants to build its corporate headquarters and two fuel-storage tanks on property on Corner Parkway along Loop 410 between the Interstate 35 and Interstate 10 corridors. The rezoning request is to change the property from Industrial 1 to Industrial 2, which would allow the construction of tanks.
The Zoning Commission approved the request in November.
Redifuel, a San Antonio-based company, currently is located on Binz-Engleman Road, tucked away among fuel giants such as ExxonMobil, Valero and Citgo, all owners of existing pipelines. It has fewer than 20 employees and provides emergency diesel fuel to generators at hospitals, dialysis centers and other facilities in the city.
The two-hour meeting began with a statement from McNeil and a presentation from Redifuel consultant Tommy Calvert Jr.
The outcry from the opposition at the meeting was simple — no more fuel storage tanks on the East Side. Individuals and groups expressed the opinion that it did not matter that Redifuel already has been on the East Side for three years or that they plan to build a "green" building.
"You can say it's going to be safe, but people make mistakes," said Wray Hood, president of the Coliseum/Willow Park Neighborhood Association.
James L. Grant, chairman of an East Side unit of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, said the East Side is tired of being seen as a location only good enough for industrial development.
"The East Side is tired of being dumped on," Grant said.
But it wasn't all bad for John Sheesley, owner of Redifuel, who also had supporters at the meeting, including T.C. Calvert, the president of the Neighborhoods First Alliance; a handful of Redifuel employees; and Ray Martin, the mayor of Kirby. Martin, who mentioned his 20 years in the fire service, always has voiced support for the project.
"A lot of people are wondering why I'm here," Martin said. "It's in the backyard of Kirby."
"So take them to Kirby," someone shouted, trying to heckle Martin.
"I would if I could," Martin replied.
He also asked people in the audience if they knew the current location of Redifuel and the location of the proposed 8-acre site where Sheesley hopes to build his corporate office and install the new tanks. People shook their heads.
"I bet some of you couldn't even drive to it," Martin said.
Sheesley and Redifuel supporters often have said that the opposition does not want to be educated on the topic and simply is opposing it because it has to do with fuel tanks. In previous meetings, Sheesley has explained that the red diesel fuel he transports is not as flammable as the gasoline and other fuels transported by the global conglomerates that surround his business.
As for the Redifuel office building, Calvert Jr. pointed out that the architects are designing a state-of-the-art building certified to meet the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental DesignGreen Building Rating System, also known as LEED.
Sheesley's main point has been that the tanks also are state-of-the-art. The fuel would be encased in concrete, surrounded by 600,000 gallons of water and then by a 12-foot protective concrete wall, he said.
Victor Villarreal, president of the East Village Neighborhood Association, said his organization supports the project.
"We're close to the current location," he said. "They came and brought this to the people affected."
T.C. Calvert said he was pleased that Sheesley was willing to put a foam-dispensing fire truck on his property to deal with spills if they occur.
Still, vocal opposition came from individuals as well as two organized environmental groups — the Southwest Workers' Union, or SWU, and Residents Organized for a Safe Environment.
Jill Johnston environmental justice organizer for SWU, asked the council to rezone the East Side to completely get rid of industrial zones.
"The community has the right to decide," she said. "The pipelines don't have to mean more storage tanks."
David Arevalo, leader of Residents Organized for a Safe Environment, supplied the T-shirts and placards featuring the "Stop Environmental Racism" slogan.
Arevalo repeatedly has said that the East Side does not need any more tanks — no exceptions. When he spoke at the podium, several Sam Houston High School students, wearing the T-shirts, stood behind him waving the placards.
Two of those students, freshman Julius Holloway, 14, and junior Josh Lewis, 17, said later that they didn't want "explosives" near the school. When asked what they meant by explosives, they said gasoline. The boys admitted they did not know what Redifuel was, where the business is located now or where the new site would be. They did say they were told that the site was "right here at Sam Houston."
The proposed site is approximately four or five miles north of the high school.
At the end of the meeting, Rosa Wilsonan East Side resident, said she did not feel any questions were answered.
"I came here in order to get a clear understanding of the issue," she said. "This meeting was to answer questions. But I didn't get those answers. People were just belligerent."
In the end, the final decision will be made by McNeil and her City Council colleagues. If the rezoning request is denied, Sheesley must wait another year before reapplying. Redifuel's current location already is zoned to allow fuel-storage tanks. Sheesley has said if the company does not get the zoning change soon, he may have to put the new tanks at his current location.
We, social movements from across
of struggle against foreign domination, colonialism and neo-colonialism; Africa and her contributions to humanity;
We are here to celebrate and reaffirm the spirit of the World Social Forum as a space of struggle and solidarity which is open to all people and social movements regardless of their ability to pay.
We denounce tendencies towards commercialisation, privatisation and militarisation of the WSF space. Hundreds of our sisters and brothers who welcomed us to
We are also deeply concerned about the presence of organisations working against the rights of women, marginalised people, and against sexual rights and diversity, in contradiction to the WSF Charter of Principles.
The social movements assembly has created a platform for Kenyans and other Africans from different backgrounds and communities to present their struggles, alternatives, cultures, talents and skills. It is also a space for civil society organisations and social movements to interact and share the issues and problems affecting them.
Since the first assembly in 2001, we have contributed to building and strengthening successful international networks of civil societies and social movements and reinforced our spirit of solidarity and our struggles against all forms of oppression and domination.
We recognise that the diversity of movements and popular initiatives against neo-liberalism, world hegemony of capitalism and imperial wars, is an expression of a world resistance.
We have now to move towards a phase of effective alternatives. Many local initiatives are already existing and should be expanded: what is happening in
As social movements from all five continents gathering in
We are calling for a broad international mobilisation against the G8 in
We will mobilise in our communities and movements for an International Day of Action in 2008.
Notes from Nairobi:
The experience in Africa has been wonderful!
There are many accomplishments to report back. The most important is the local connections we have built in Kenya. The youth that we visited in Korogocho have continued to visit and participated throughout the WSF. Their work is very impressive and have been a motivation throughout our stay here.
At this WSF we have built strong relationships with the immigrants rights movement. We participated and presented on several panels and workshops related to migrants. Our presence in these spaces was felt and the reality of the US and the border were key.
During the Forum the folks from Korogocho protested the main food court that was owned by the former Minister of the Economy, owner of a country club and is personally responsible for many people being jailed. They were able to shut it down and eat a free meal. This was very important due to the presence of corporations at the WSF, like the cell phone company.
The days have been very long. A new addition to the Forum this year was the fourth day activities, organized by the Social Movements Assembly. The fouth day served as a space to develop common actions on each tematic area, finishing with a series of reports backs. This has been a great addition and a calendar of actions was developed.
During our time here we visited the United Nations Environmental Program on the impacts of military toxics. They are now moving a process to collect information form organizations and governments on military impacts around April of this year. This will culminate with a global conference on military pollution in 2008.
We have distributed thousands of pieces of information from SWU and the buttons were a great hit. Many of the days have been intense work.
We were also able to attend the International Council meeting of the WSF. There were over a hundred people participating and the participants shared great information on evaluation the WSF in Nairobi. The meeting is quiet long.
The experiences are numerous and the trip has been a great success. It has been very cool (poa sana) using and practicing swahili. People tend to be very surprised when they hear it.
Willie is on his way back and should be getting in today. I told him to swing by the staff meeting and share some of his experiences with you. I pretty tired and excited. I will traveling with Emery and a couple of friends to Tanzania today. We will go to Arusha which is at the base of mount kilimanjaro? and then down to Dar es Salam. It should be quiet an trip!
March begins 11:00 am
Intersection of Jefferson & Martin
Open Letter to Members of City Council
Opposition to Permitting Eastside Fuel Storage Tanks
Southwest Workers Union calls on City Leaders and the community to protect the health and families of east side residents and uphold environmental justice. The proposal to build two new million gallon tanks for fuel furthering jeopardizes the health and safety of a community already burdened by toxic pipelines, fuel storage tank farms, diesel trucks, deadly Union Pacific tracks and numerous industrial sites.
Environmental Racism describes the reality that hazardous waste dumps, polluting industries and military installations are disproportionately sited in low-income and people of color communities. The cumulative effects of multiple sources of contamination in these neighborhoods continue to damage our environment and health. The east side residents not only suffers from the disproportionate citing of 60% of the fuel storage tanks in the City of San Antonio, but also is burdened by: 4 major 18 wheeler truck stops, CPS maintenance yard, SAWS maintenance yard, Industrial iron works centers, BFI solid waste dump, coal-burning power plant and Aztec ceramic tile facility.
The unfortunately reality across
Southwest Workers Union demands:
For residents of the Toxic Triangle, the Southside neighborhood surrounded by the former Kelly Air Force Base, 2006 brought some measure of vindication. For years, residents have contended that cancer rates in the area are abnormally high and can only be explained by the plume of toxins under their houses, caused by long-term secret dumping by Kelly employees.
The anecdotal evidence is highly persuasive, particularly if you drive along Hollenbeck Avenue and observe the sea of purple crosses in front of homes that have been touched by cancer. But this year, anecdotal evidence was supported by a National Research Council Report which found that Trichloroethene (TCE), an industrial solvent used at Kelly to clean equipment, is a dangerous carcinogen. Environmental activists hope that the study results will spur the Environmental Protection Agency, which has stalled in addressing TCE’s risks, to strengthen its TCE regulations.
The national activity on this issue, coupled with the fifth anniversary of Kelly’s closing, rallied local activists who’ve long been frustrated about the slow pace of the Air Force’s cleanup effort. In fact, they accurately contend that Kelly is simply containing the damage, not cleaning it up, in the hopes that natural attenuation will eventually solve the problem.
In July, the Southwest Workers Union organized a community march to the gates of Kelly; 2006 also brought some highly contentious public meetings between residents and Kelly employees.
Emotions ran equally high over the planned transformation of the old Big Tex Grain Co. site into a mixed-used residential and retail complex. In July, the EPA revealed that it found elevated levels of asbestos near Big Tex, and neighboring residents worried that construction work on the nearby Eagleland Hike-and-Bike trail could kick up dangerous amounts of contaminated soil. Work on the project continued, despite calls for further research along the trail.
District 5 Councilwoman Patti Radle spoke for many residents when she told the Current: “The EPA should have taken care of this a long time ago. For whatever reason, it just fell through the cracks.”