Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our children deserve safe and healthy places to play

Reposted from October 2016

Before making any decisions [on new ballpark locations], an independent laboratory should conduct environmental and health risk analysis for heavy metals, PAHs, and other toxins in the soil, ground water, and air. 

All soils at parish playgrounds and ball parks should be screened for lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel, and, depending on the results, additional testing and soil removal should be conducted. Initial screenings cost as little as $10 per sample.

St Bernard Parish Recreation ball park proposal for area of Murphy Oil spill in close proximity to the solid waste surface impoundments, located just east of this site recommendation.

Notice the oil booms in the earthen conveyance ditch.  As an existing solid waste unit, the facility receives a waiver from the State required buffer zone between the solid waste units and its property line. There is another State required buffer zone between solid waste units and nearby churches. The waiver or exemption does not mention future site selections for a recreation sports park.

this is the same area where oily waste water can be held for WWTP malfunctions or rain events

North of Judge Perez between Jacob and Despaux and Judge Perez and Missouri

Our children deserve safe and healthy places to play.

Do we have that much surplus money in the local budget to afford a brand new ball park?  Especially after investing about $22 million in Val Reiss?

If we are going to develop a brand new ball park, shouldn’t we explore all options?  Other sites include the ball field next to the communication towers, or acquisition of vacant land along St Bernard Highway between Octavia and Plaza or between Lena and Corinne.  The Octavia-Plaza site is for sale, was a former trailer park, and has access from both highways (Judge Perez and St Bernard).

Funding sources could include the $3 million Murphy oil spill Cy Pres fund, the Chalmette Refining settlement funds, grants and donations. These funds should also be considered for improvements to our existing playgrounds and ball parks, such as Violet park, or for the development of a skate board park. 

Before making any decisions, an independent laboratory should conduct environmental and health risk analysis for heavy metals, PAHs, and other toxins in the soil, ground water, and air. 

All soils at parish playgrounds and ball parks should be screened for lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel, and, depending on the results, additional testing and soil removal should be conducted. Initial screenings cost as little as $10 per sample. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

calling all people who care

If the EPA Sits On Its Hands, Citizens Will Get to Their Feet

States, the Feds, and the EPA aren’t the only ones who have power to protect the environment

What can environmental groups and all people who care about the environment and public health do in response?

States, governments, and the EPA aren’t the only ones who have the power to protect the environment. Citizens can take action, too. The nation’s environmental statutes have citizen suit provisions such that aggrieved citizens can bring enforcement actions—essentially stepping into the shoes of the federal government.

“The citizen suit provisions [of The Clean Air Act] have two prongs,” says Richard L. Revesz, the Lawrence King Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York University School of Law, where he directs the Institute for Policy Integrity. “Citizens can sue polluters for violating the environmental standards that apply to them. If the EPA or a state doesn’t bring enforcement actions against a polluter [that is] emitting more air pollution than is permitted under the regulation, some affected individual can bring a suit to compel a source to comply with its regulatory obligations. The second is that EPA under the statute has various non-discretionary duties. That is, it’s required by statute to take certain actions, and if it doesn’t do them, that’s another possible reason for citizen litigation. Citizens can then sue to compel EPA to carry out a non-discretionary duty under the statute.”

Sunday, March 5, 2017

economic development and safe, healthy environment not mutually exclusive

Dan Rather
There is no gated community when it comes to the environment. No wall high enough to stop dirty air. No guards who can check the IDs of the storms and droughts ...that will increase with intensity when it comes to the devastating effects of climate change. There are many social problems that the rich and powerful can wilfully disregard by separating themselves from the poor and powerless - but the environment isn't one of them. I really don't understand the motivations of those who seem eager to pollute the one Earth we all must call home. Never have. Never will.

And yet, from all accounts, Donald Trump's pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency could easily turn the name of the group he might soon lead into a mockery. The EPA is the cop on the beat to make sure our air is safe to breathe and our water safe to drink. Its role, in the age of climate change, is more vital than ever. You could argue that its mission now is one of national - and global - security for life as we know it. It was created by a Republican president - Richard Nixon - at a time that now seems utterly foreign, when the health of the planet was largely a bipartisan concern. But Pruitt is not of the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt - or even Nixon. He has, at seemingly every turn of his public, life worked hard to lessen if not destroy the very regulations and initiatives he will now be tasked to oversee - on soot-free air, water free of poisonous chemicals, and of course the crisis of climate change.

There will always be some friction between the needs of human beings, living in a modern world, and environmental protection. However modern science, technology and philosophies over how we move, generate power, conserve resources, even what we eat, can provide solutions for reducing the negative shadow our species casts over so much of life on Earth. By being bold and creative, we can be more prosperous and healthy. As Pope Francis said recently, we are "stewards not masters" of our planet. For the life of me, I can't see how anybody could find that statement controversial or objectionable unless you are so blinded by shortsightedness. It is a political trope to talk about the world you want for your children and grandchildren, but with the environment that is not spin. It's real. Deadly real. And we need leadership that understands that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

which way are we going

Thomas Friedman The first law of Petropolitics
The first law of Petropolitics :  the price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions

“. …the higher the oil prices rise, the more free speech, free press, free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and independent political parties are eroded… the higher the price goes, the less petrolist leaders are sensitive to what the world thinks or says about them …the lower the price of oil the more petrolist countries are forced to move toward a political system and society that is more transparent, more sensitive to opposition voices, and more focused on building the legal and educational structures that will maximize their people’s ability…. “
which way are we going?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

refineries delayed maintenance

deferred maintenance for profit margin

leads to higher accident risk for workers

and potential for unplanned shutdowns which tend to adversely affect neighboring community

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Recent comments have eluded to Valero Energy’s Meraux plant seeking community projects to contribute to.  The need for a skate board park and bicycle trail head comes to mind.

With a lack of public input mechanisms to suggest community projects, perhaps it’s worth reiterating previously requested projects:

1) The Villere Plantation's brick drainage pump ruins have been entrusted, through a conservation easement  to the St. Bernard Parish Historical Society. Unfortunately, the conservation easement is scheduled to expire when the EPA CD is completed.   This wooded area on the former Villere Plantation grounds would make a wonderful bird and wildlife sanctuary. Bald eagles are known to nest in this area. It would also be a suitable location for a Central Wetlands observation deck north of the forty arpent canal.  

The Villere Plantation was the site of the British Invasion during the war of 1812. The Villere Plantation was listed as a War of 1812 Preservation Priority in the 2007 American Battlefield Protection Program Report to Congress. "The priorities indicate which sites, in the opinion of the National Park Service, merit immediate preservation action, which need ongoing preservation action, which require additional study, and which are best suited for commemoration rather than preservation."

2)  Buy Back Program; allow homeowners  to increase lot sizes and give residents the opportunity of re-establishing our neighborhood feel.  Place conservation easement on the remaining land titles to provide commitment to a truly protective green zone buffer.

3)  Protect our children and pedestrians and resume the sidewalk replacement program to bring vacant lots to ADA compliance. Include the sidewalks from Ohio Street to Jacob Drive so residents can safely continue to ride bikes or walk along Jacob Drive.

4) Respect our families and our privacy and stop neighborhood surveillance tactics and invasive security cameras. Keep transient workers from trespassing, and provide workers with an evacuation route which does not include our neighborhoods.

5)  Improvements to increase the plant’s storm water capacity and to change the plan for waste water malfunctions, so that use of neighborhood canals for emergency discharges or overflows is prohibited.  Additionally prohibit use of the plant’s western rain water ditch for waste water malfunctions. This “west ditch” connects to the municipal storm water system which discharges into the nearby central wetlands.

6)  Appropriately fill the vacant lots to avoid mosquito infestation and virus transmission.

7) Provide public access to real time fence line monitor data, especially for benzene (not two week averages with data available months later). Continue the ambient air monitor station and real time access to its data beyond the EPA CD conclusion. Provide public access to the rain fall totals measured at the station.

8) Provide real time information during plant emergencies and other incidents.

9) Investments to upgrade the Meraux plant to BACT pollution controls.

10) Investment in operational adjustments for noise muffling and installation of noise abatement technology.

11) Comply with our local code and performance standards for nuisance, vibrations, noise, dust, night work, truck traffic, screening fences, dumpsters and parking lot litter.

12) A good neighbor demonstrates respect on a daily basis for the people who live on the other side of the fence line.  Merge the CAP and the emissions data meeting to allow the general public to attend its CAP meetings and allow information from CAP meetings to be made available to the public.

Monday, December 12, 2016

U N Human Rights Day

As residents of St Bernard Parish we have the human right to secure tenure, including the right to equal access to all the information before decisions are made. And we have the right to association without neighborhood surveillance.  And we have the right to access basic services such as side walks and transportation, including safe bus stops with sidewalks. The powers that be seem more concerned about relocation of trees than with how people were treated beneath human dignity when being forced from their homes and trailer parks.

U N Human Rights Day  Dec 10 2016

The human right to security of tenure includes:
  • The human right to adequate housing.
  • The human right to an adequate standard of living.
  • The human right to security, including enforceable legal security of tenure.
  • The human right to protection from forced evictions and the destruction and/or demolition of one's home including in situations of military occupation, international and civil armed conflict, establishment and construction of alien settlements, population transfer, development projects and international events.
  • The human right to full equality between men and women.
  • The human right to freedom from discrimination based on sex, race, or any other status.
  • The human right to equal protection of the law and to judicial remedy in case of violation of the right to adequate housing.
  • The human right to freedom of expression and of association.
  • The human right to education and access to information.
  • The human right to participate in public decision-making.
The human right to Security of Tenure is prerequisite to the full realization of the human right to adequate housing, which includes:
  • The human right to choose one's residence, to determine where and how to live, and to freedom of movement.
  • The human right to livelihood and land.
  • The human right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
  • The human right to a safe and healthy environment.
  • The human right to access to resources, including energy for cooking, heating, and lighting.
  • The human right of access to basic services, schools, transportation and employment options.
  • The human right to freedom from arbitrary interference with one's privacy.
  • The human right to affordability in housing so that other basic needs are not threatened or compromised.

Blog Archive