Wednesday, July 29, 2015

PBC Environmental Coalition Supports the Prison Ecology Project... You should too!

Earlier this month a Lake Worth-based organization, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), submitted a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides input on the agency’s EJ 2020 Action Agenda Framework, highlighting the lack of consideration for environmental justice among the millions of prisoners in the United States. The comment was co-signed by the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, along with 92 other social justice, environmental and prisoners’ rights organizations from across the country.

HRDC has also announced the beginning of its Prison Ecology Project, an effort to organize at the intersection of mass incarceration and environmental pollution, and has launched a fundraising campaign to build off the recent EJ 2020 comment and fight against a new federal prison on endangered species habitat in southern Appalachia.

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“It’s encouraging to see the EPA attempting to increase the effectiveness of protecting vulnerable communities that have been overburdened by industrial pollution, but a significant component is missing when impacts on millions of prisoners and their families are ignored,” said Panagioti Tsolkas, coordinator of HRDC’s Prison Ecology Project.

HRDC’s comment elaborates on examples nationwide which illustrate a clear need to protect prisoners as a population that faces extreme environmental justice impacts. For example, prisons and jails built on or near landfills, toxic waste dumps, Superfund cleanup sites and coal mining sites, or that are vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding and environmental hazards like contaminated water. The comment filed with the EPA can be found online here.

According to the comment submitted by HRDC, there is overwhelming evidence that the population of people in prison represents one of the most vulnerable and uniquely-overburdened demographics in our nation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Fight for Briger Forest Continues, Opponents Site Biolab Hazardous Waste as the Next Battleground

Heavily-Redacted Documents from Scripps Biotech Give Local Residents Cause for Alarm in New Construction Plan

Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Yesterday, the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) filed an amended challenge to the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) first proposed construction permit intended specifically for the biotech facility on the Briger forest.

While a portion of the Briger has been under construction since November of last year, the development was limited to roads and clearing for the Alton residential area. This permit modification challenged by PBCEC is explicitly aimed at constructing in an 8-acre area for a road called Pasteur Boulevard which would be the access way for Scripps Phase II, a biotech laboratory facility handling high-level hazardous materials.

A recent series of reports by USA Today exposed heavily redacted documents regarding the materials used by Scripps Biotech’s existing Florida facility. PBCEC activists say they found this very troubling.

“They don’t want us to know what they’ll be handling, disposing, and transporting in our community. It’s a big red flag for those of us who live in the area, and anyone who uses the Intracoastal for recreation,” said Sandra Quirk, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens who joined PBCEC in asking for an Administrative Hearing on the issue. Over 200 other residents across the county also signed the initial PBCEC petition to SFWMD on the Pasteur Blvd permit.