To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
August 18, 2017
RE: Buffalo protest; soil samples

  1. Charlottesville rally in Buffalo
  2. Public Meeting about US Ecology, soil samples, and neighborhood hazards
  3. Soil samples show the need for more testing!
  4. Open letter in reply to US Ecology's lies and evasions

Charlottesville rally in Buffalo

Pro-Nazi supporter James Alex Fields murdered progressive activist Heather Heyer, accelerating his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists gathered to defy the filthy neo-Nazi and white-supremacist gangs who were rampaging through Charlottesville, thus wiping away all notions that they were part of a new, refined, and peace-loving "alt-right." Richard Spencer and other "alt–right" types can try to back away from this violence, but they can't hide from the fact that the blood is on their hands too.  Weren't they also trying to recruit members by imitating the infamous Nazi candlelight marches, taking the country back from "the Jews" who they don't consider to be part of the "the white" master race.

But the biggest of all the criminals here is #45, Trump. Was he not the biggest advocate of vile racism against Obama in birthgate? Was he not the biggest advocate of violence against anyone who opposed him? Jail Hillary. Punch-out protesters at his rallies.  Rough-up prisoners. Etc. Did not the racist KKK leaders adore him and did he not take every opportunity to court them?  It's no wonder that this normally loud and brash critic could at first scarcely say anything about the Charlottesville slaughter and then sought to redirect anger away from the white supremacists onto the counterprotesters.

But people around the country are outraged. Protests have broken out. I can mention one protest here in Buffalo on August 13. Though it was loosely organized it was attended by about 125 people in Bidwell Park. A speaker from the Western New York Peace Center was one of the main speakers, and she mainly talked about how fascism is a serious issue confronting us today and how her father confronted it in Nazi Germany. .From this she advocated "love" as the ultimate answer for some unknown reason.  This seemed to have credibility among the crowd nonetheless.  A representative from the Parent-Teacher Association gave a number to call for the New York State Commissioner of Education to remove racist School Board member Carl Paladino. There were slogans on placards against racism, fascism, and Trump. I wore a home-made t-shirt with "We stand  with the anti-racist, ant-fascist protesters! Down with head racist Trump!" on the back, and it got photographed several times.

The rally started to fizzle out after only 40 minutes . But at this time a comrade of the former Marxist-Leninist Party decided to try to convert the rally into a march down the adjacent Elmwood Avenue’s sidewalk.  She got support from another comrade and some others, and they went around from group to group. With enough support gathered, the march began -- and most of those from the rally began marching. This is when slogan-shouting really took off. We were marching past a series of open-air restaurants and crowded traffic, getting a lot of honks and applause. Besides slogans against Trump, the KKK, and racism in general, there was a slogan against local Trumpist and white-supremacist Carl Paladino. And so the action in Buffalo, while quite small, developed some momentum.

--Mark Williams, Detroit Workers' Voice

Updates:

* On August 17, at the end of hearings called because of earlier mass protests against the racist Carl Paladino, he was removed from the Buffalo School Board by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. She, however, avoided the issue of his racism and acted on the grounds that he had made confidential information public.

* Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, has not only defended her daughter's activism but refused to talk with or meet Trump. She denounced Trump, saying "I'm not talking to the president now. I'm sorry. After what he said about my child...it's not that I saw somebody else's tweets about him. I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters like Ms. Heyer with the KKK and white supremacists." And she said "You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I'm sorry." <>

Public Meeting about US Ecology, soil samples, and neighborhood hazards

A meeting of the Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology:

Bring your concerns about the expansion of the US Ecology hazardous waste plant. We will host a guest who has worked in the field of environmental medicine and is currently on a national task force working to determine safe limits on toxins in soils. She is interested to learn about the US Ecology hazardous waste plant from us.

Monday, August 21st - Noon ... <>

  Soil samples show the need for more testing!

Results of soil samples near the US Ecology hazardous waste plant (press release, August 2, 2017)

On July 5th, soil samples were taken on public land surrounding US Ecology, hazardous waste plant, on Georgia Street in Detroit. Lab analysis found elevated concentrations of arsenic, diesel and copper, along with many other metals in the soil. These elements could increase the risk to residents for asthma, lung and heart disease and many cancers and reduce immune function.

We found with some difficulty that safe levels for many of the metals in soil do not even exist at the federal level, that states have a range of acceptable levels or none at all, and that some of the pages we consulted were no longer available for public viewing. The small number of samples does not provide proof of correlation with the plant or the health of the community.

The health of the residents has never been studied. But it does indicate the need for further testing of soil, water and public health by MDEQ [the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality], not approving more toxins. We did find:

Arsenic: EPA safety limit in soil is 0.39 parts per million. Our samples in public spaces around US Ecology on Georgia St ranged from 1.6 - 6.3 ppm -- up to almost 20 times the acceptable limit. EPA classifies arsenic as a human carcinogen because long-term exposures even at low levels can cause cancer of the lungs, bladder, skin, liver or kidneys.

Diesel DRO: Diesel is not normally found in the soil, yet much was found in the soil around the plant. Long-term exposure to diesel exhaust, with hundreds of trucks driving down Georgia St. daily, can increase the risk for developing asthma, lung and heart disease and negatively affect brain and immune function.

Copper: Inhaling copper dust and fumes can negatively affect respiratory, gastro-intestinal, liver and endocrine function. High levels of copper were found in the samples.

Most of the metals tested in the soil were elevated far beyond the Michigan soil averages according to information provided to us by the EPA.

Why did we take these samples? Two years ago, the US Ecology plant on Georgia St. applied for a permit to expand ten-fold. MDEQ stated again in recent weeks that it plans to approve a massive expansion of new and more dangerous chemicals processed and stored at this plant and continue to grant waivers on soil and ground water testing.

We strongly disagree. Many more soil tests must be taken in the community to protect the health and safety of the residents. And the MDEQ must end the waivers to soil and ground water testing at USE (N) [US Ecology has two waste plants in Detroit, USE-North and USE-South]. In answer to us, MDEQ has insisted that they have tried to take soil samples down 60 feet and have only found clay. This is the reason they give as to why they must continue to grant US Ecology a waiver on any soil testing (a waiver that has been in effect since 1989). But if there is solid clay beneath the plant, wouldn't any leakage travel laterally into the neighborhood? If testing cannot be done beneath the plant, why not test beyond the perimeters to see if any toxins are making their way into the surrounding land? The waivers granted to testing by US Ecology must end. Continuing the waiver is granting this company and this state agency the go-ahead to keep their blinders on and deny any knowledge of the toxins that could be leaking into the soil around this hazardous waste site.

MDEQ stated that they planned to approve the expansion on technical merits alone. Statements submitted by Wayne State University Environmental Law Center (2015 and 2017), the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Attorney Terry Lodge and others during the public comment period should provide sufficient technical data to reject the expansion.

If MDEQ grants this permit, the company will then request a large increase (from 300,000 gallons per day) in the liquid it treats and dumps into public sewers. MDEQ states that this is a separate permit with Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), period. Technically, this is true, but Gary Brown, Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, confirmed last month that if the expansion is granted, a request for an increase in the amount of effluent that can be dumped into the public sewers will no doubt follow. And now that the GLWA has built a new plant to dry sludge and turn it into fertilizer, which could enter our food system, we have to be even more concerned about the toxins that come into Detroit and enter the sewers.

It is our responsibility to protect the Great Lakes, with 21% of the world's fresh water supply, for future generations. MDEQ must deny the permit and end waivers for testing.

Released by] Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology With support from Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Website: www.coalitionstopuse.weebly.com <>

Open letter in reply to US Ecology's lies and evasions

Open Letter to US Ecology, a hazardous waste plant on Georgia St. Detroit

Your letter in the Detroit News (8-8-17) claims that "US Ecology (plant) cleans environment." You are referring to your stated job of treating waste, while burying the content of your request "to convert and expand certain aspects of the operations."

*Facts:*

1) You are requesting a massive expansion of storage of poisons at your plant. The initial report in the _Detroit News_ (9-11-15) rounded off figures to a ten-fold expansion in storage.

2) You plan to convert three in ground non-hazardous waste units to hazardous waste adding poisonous industrial chemicals to the current mix.

3) Trucks will not only haul more toxins into and out of Detroit --  but what they carry will be more dangerous and will put the community at greater risk.

4) You talk of all the testing you do but your company has done no soil testing since 1989 and you want to extend that waiver. We have taken samples of soil from around your plant at the expense of concerned Michiganders and have found high levels of arsenic, diesel, mercury -- and several times the amount of other poisons found in average Michigan soil.

5) And 150 of your water test results violated EPA standards in recent years (Detroit Free Press 12-16-16). This is not safe for either southeast Michigan or the Great Lakes.

6) Finally, you talk of how you benefit Detroit while paying a mere 2 and a half cents to the City of Detroit for each ton (2000 lbs) of waste you process. (Community Host Agreement)

US Ecology - Stop the expansion and conversion to a new and more dangerous plant!

WWW.CoalitionStopUse@weebly.com FB: Coalition against the Expansion of US Ecology

(US Ecology's letter can be found at www.Detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2017/08/07/ecology-expansion/104392700) <>


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Posted on August 25, 2017.
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