Environmental Justice Bus Tour – April 2012

NEWS FLASH: Tangible Success as a Result of Env Justice Bus Tour!

Environmental Justice Bus Tour: A tour to the heart of our community

An honored environmental justice tradition came to Eugene on April 13th. Beyond Toxics and Centro LatinoAmericano collaborated on a well-attended community toxics tour in West Eugene residential neighborhoods. – Press Release (3/28/12 PDF)

Photos from the April 13, 2012 Environmental Justice Bus Tour of West Eugene
(photos by Douglas McGowan, Wayne Lottinville and John Jordan-Cascade)

 

Luis Olmedo, Exec. Director Comité Civico

We were pleased to have been joined by Mayor Kitty Piercy, County Commissioner Rob Handy and City Councilors George Brown and Andrea Ortiz. We were also joined by a wide variety of government agency representatives, including Alana Henning, EPA and Ben Duncan, State of Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force (also representatives from Oregon Department of Agriculture, DEQ, LRAPA and City of Eugene’s Human Rights Commission, Sustainability Commission and Planning Department and Bethel School).

…and NGO and community leaders, including leaders from PCUN, Huerto de la Familia, LCHAY, CALC, Madres para la Salud, Centro LatinoAmericano, CAER, Trainsong Neighbors and ACLU.

Resident Joanne Gross stands in front of her house while a nearby plant (Flakeboard) emits toxics into the air.

We would like to thank our wonderful volunteers who put in many hours of time to help us create a memorable event.

News about the event:

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Lisa Arkin, Exec. Director, Beyond Toxics

Special thanks for the community’s support for this event, including:

Thanks, also, to Cameron & Company for marketing assistance and customer care above and beyond the call of duty!

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Guest speaker and emcee: California environmental justice organizer Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comité Civico del Valle

For the first time in Oregon’s history, Beyond Toxics and Centro LatinoAmericano hosted an environmental justice bus tour into West Eugene’s Industrial Corridor neighborhoods to raise awareness about pollution issues the people who live there face every day.

According to the US EPA , fifty air and toxic release sites and two Superfund sites are listed within the nine square mile area of West Eugene. Residents of West Eugene face the release of over 437,000 pounds of airborne toxic chemical emissions from industrial sources alone. (Source: City of Eugene Toxics Inventory – 2010). Those who live in these neighborhoods, such as Bethel, Trainsong and River Road, face more frequent and intense exposures than other areas of Eugene.

How can our community respond? What solutions can we offer? The bus tour was guided by environmental justice leaders and community members and visited multiple sites in each residential neighborhood where environmental hazards are suspected. (Download and read the EJ Bus Tour Program for details.)

Following the tour, community residents, elected leaders and representatives from federal, state, county and city agencies gathered at the Cascade Middle School. A spirited conversation followed with Luis Almedo’s engaging facilitation.

The concept of an Environmental Justice Community Tour, or Toxics Tour, has been widely used throughout the nation as a grassroots community effort to engage residents and major decision-makers in addressing social and environmental justice issues.

As Lisa Jackson, the Administrator to the US Environmental Protection Agency, stated…

“…We must be sensitive to the burdens pollution has placed on vulnerable subpopulations, including children, the elderly, the poor and all others who are at particular risk to threats to health and the environment. We must seek their full partnership in the greater aim of identifying and eliminating the sources of pollution in their neighborhoods, schools, and homes.”

For more information about follow-up events and plans, please contact our Environmental Justice Outreach Coordinator, Alison Guzman, environmentaljustice@beyondtoxics.org or 541-465-8860.

Luis Olmedo, Exec. Director of Comite Civico del Valle


About the tour guide and guest presenter
Luis Olmedo is the Executive Director of Comite Civico del Valle, an organization located in Imperial Valley whose mission focuses on addressing environmental health related problems in the farm worker community. Luis has an established reputation as a leading community activist and advises local, regional, and state programs on environmental health issues affecting Imperial County and Eastern Coachella Valley.

Since joining comite civico, Luis has collaborated with academic and research institutions to expand environmental research in Imperial County, included Border Asthma and Allergy Study, Percholorate Biomonitoring, Agricultural Burning Study, water quality study, Pesticide Illness and Surveillance Project and Reducing Exposure to Unhealthy Air. Luis is a member of the American Lung Association Cancer and the Environment Team, Advisor California Department of Public-Health Tracking Program, Co-Chair Imperial County Environmental Justice Enforcement Taskforce, California Asthma Partners, and the Good Neighbor Environmental Board-Federal Advisory Committee. Luis is passionate about environmental justice where he is a member of various state and national networks that focus on environmental policy and regulations.


Ben Duncan, Board Chair for OPAL

Ben Duncan is a policy analyst with Multnomah County Health Department, Environmental Health Division and Board Chair of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon which works for Environmental Justice in the Portland metro area. His work focuses on the relationship between health and the environment, through both policy and community based empowerment work, and touches all aspects of environmental health issues including food borne illness, vector control, air quality, toxics reduction, food policy and housing. Ben also works with the Diversity and Quality Team and the Health Equity Initiative which focus on equity and justice both within and outside the county. He is Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Environmental Justice Task Force and serves on several other advisory boards and committees.


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