Saturday, June 28, 2008

Public Participation

Active citizen participation in our community has never been more engaged and is truly an accomplishment to consider this Fourth of July Holiday.

From RDC 's community clean ups and RDC Beautification Projects to the EPA C A R E forums , residents now more than ever want to affect the ever-changing decisions in our community.

We have inspired each other and the results are amazing. Newly formed associations are making a difference throughout all districts, such as Eastern St Bernard Citizens . Residents from all walks of life are making a commitment to the future of our parish as seen in the emerging advocacy groups in District A and District B.

Recent strides include action on a proposed and the . Both developments were curtailed because engaged citizens volunteered their time and effort to place the health, safety and welfare of our family oriented neighborhoods above all other offered gains.

As Neighbors and Neighborhoods states: residents will come together to collectively support each other, to encourage, promote and facilitate community involvement and to work with local government and industry to achieve maximum growth with the re-development of safe, organized and productive neighborhoods as the primary goals.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Overall Air Quality Concerns - Asbestos

for the future of our community and for the safety and health of our children, all our residents, and the many workers in our area, we resolved to take action on the Clean Air Act violations in our community.

EPA's recent efforts to conserve landfill space explored disaster debris volume reduction with an experimental asbestos grind and burn at our Paris Road landfill. Asbestos containing debris scheduled to be incinerated with an Air Curtain Destructor pilot test was canceled because of citizens concerns for public health. The EPA curtailed their plans and chose only to test burn and grind non RACM containing C & D debris along with vegetative matter, as explained in the EPA 's pilot tests comments .

At prior council meetings, St Bernard Parish officials traded a temporary burn permit to the EPA for a renewal of a no action assurance from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The no action assurance was a renewal of permission to demo without asbestos abatement. The RACM houses however are to be 'burrito wrapped' and hauled to the River Birch Landfill on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish.

Residents first became aware of the incinerator project by attending EFC meetings; the Executive Finance Meetings where St Bernard Parish Councilmembers customarily discuss business matters and ordinances before voting to bring such items before the full council. However, the agendas for both the EFC and the Council Meetings never contained verbiage of asbestos. While residents may sign up to speak for two (2) minutes at a council meeting, the ability to comment was difficult given the lack of information prior to the council's February 7, 2008 vote. Through public records requests, CCAM received the information about two weeks later.

Several active CCAM members whose work and lifestyle brings them in and around the landfill area spoke up to the EPA about their concerns for public health through these prior council meetings and the subsequent EPA community outreach meetings in June. The EPA June meetings were held in response to residents claims that there had been no adequate public notice given even by local standards.

St Bernard residents who attended two community outreach meetings with EPA officials in June reported the agency's response to our questions.

Q: HOW are they going to know that the one home for C&D burn experiment is NON Asbestos containing?

answer. "the answer they gave us...They chose 1 house out of 12,000. It has been tested by EPA and the results were compared to other tests made by another company, and the parish demolition company. They said the asbestos was minimal and not harmful. It is in the joints of the house."

Q: This resident asked about the large variety of everyday items in a typical house that would never reduce its size even in the temperatures of the ACD. Examples given were the electrical outlets, ceramic fixtures and hardware and other such auxiliary goods. Questions were also raised about the lead paint, plastic and mercury contents of a typical house.

CCAM wants to recognize the improvements to our quality of life and protection of our public health achieved by a number of residents and workers who made a commitment to our community by taking action on Clean Air Violations.

CCAM is also very appreciative of the expertise and stealth field work by Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, especially Lacy Smith, student attorney at TELC and Jim Hecker, a lawyer with Public Justice in Washington, D.C.

Recent articles about this asbestos experiment can be read at

EPA to burn houses with asbestos During test run, air will be monitored Saturday, February 09, 2008 By Paul Rioux

by: Anthony Lacey INSIDEEPA-29-26-13

Daily Environment Report - EPA Cancels Project to Grind, IncinerateNo. 117 Wednesday, June 18, 2008Page A-5 ISSN 1521-9402

Read more about EPA's Disaster Debris Reduction Project - St Bernard Parish Louisiana

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