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|What’s in the Water? From Flint Michigan to the Bayview: Environmental Injustice’s Cause|
|Date||Monday March 07|
|Time||6:00 AM - 9:00 AM|
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Global Exchange 2017 Mission at 16th
What’s in the Water?
From Flint Michigan to the Bayview:
Environmental Injustice’s Cause and
Genocidal Outcomes in Communities of Color
With Steve Zeltzer and Dr. Raymond Tomkins
Lead poisoning is irreversible. Pediatricians such as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha (who discovered the Flint water crisis) fear the Flint children who tested with elevated levels will suffer lifelong consequences. "If you were to put something in a population to keep them down for generation and generations to come, it would be lead," Hanna-Attisha said. "It's a well-known, potent neurotoxin. There's tons of evidence on what lead does to a child, and it is one of the most damning things that you can do to a population. It drops your IQ, it affects your behavior, it's been linked to criminality, it has multigenerational impacts. There is no safe level of lead in a child."
The Flint water crisis is a drinking water contamination crisis began in April 2014. After Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to the Flint River, its drinking water had a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination with extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal. In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed. Nine lawsuits have been filed against government officials on the issue, and several investigations have been opened. The city was declared to be in a state of emergency by the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, before Obama declared it as a federal state of emergency. Four government officials—one from the City of Flint, two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and one from the Environmental Protection Agency—resigned over the mishandling of the crisis, and one additional MDEQ staff member was fired and another has a termination hearing pending. Governor Snyder issued an apology to citizens and promised to fix the problem.
While the local outcry about Flint water quality was growing in early 2015, Flint water officials filed papers with state regulators purporting to show that "tests at Flint's water treatment plant had detected no lead and testing in homes had registered lead at acceptable levels." The documents falsely claimed that the city had tested tap water from homes with lead service lines, and therefore the highest lead-poisoning risks; in reality; the city does not know the locations of lead service lines, which city officials acknowledged in November 2015 after the Flint Journal/MLive published an article revealing the practice after obtaining documents through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
In 2003, Bayview Hunters Point residents and community environmental justice organizations filed complaints with the US Department of Energy, charging the California Independent System Operator and PG&E with violating Title VI of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964. By applying standards that subject Bayview Hunters Point residents, the majority of who are low-income people of color, to unnecessary levels of fossil fuels, PG&E and California Independent Systems Operator are violating civil rights, the residents and organizations said.
Two years later, residents continued to suffer a medical chart’s worth health problems through being exposed to pollution from two of the state’s oldest power plants. This is in addition to the constant bombardment they’ve received of fumes and gases from sewage treatment, cement factories, a radioactive shipyard, and two highways. According to a 2003 study by the nonprofit Greenaction, residents in Southeast San Francisco are hospitalized for cognitive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, emphysema, and asthma at three times the statewide average. “The city of San Francisco has never made a commitment to the people of Bayview Hunters Point or to their health,” said Dr. Raymond Tompkins, administrative lecturer at San Francisco City College.
The rate of breast cancer in African American women under the age of 50 is twice as high there as in the rest of the state, he said. “The same chemicals that cause breast cancer cause testicular cancer,” he cautioned, adding that the health department has not even been searching for the latter disease when collecting its statistics on Bayview Hunters Point residents. He also pointed out that while the life expectancy for a white male living in San Francisco is 78 years, for an African American male in Bayview Hunters Point, it is 58 years. “We’re talking about life and death here.”
Please join us at OccupyForum Monday night to hear from Steve Zeltzer and Dr. Ray Tomkins about environmental genocide in communities of color; to call out the perpetrators, and to take a stand with communities against the corrupt agencies and systemic racism in the United States that allows, and perhaps encourages this, to happen.
Time will be allotted for Q&A, discussion and announcements.
Donations to Occupy Forum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!