Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Kelly Air Base Struggle: Building A Grassroots Movement Against Military Pollution

I have the privilege to attend the Environmental Justice Encuentro in Houston, sponsored by TEJAS Barrios.  The connection between environmental justice and health is abundantly evident.  Hearing from the Southwest Workers Union and their community campaign in San Antonio TX to close Kelly Air Force Base and have the shallow aquifer, poisoned by TCE (tri-chloroethylene) and PCE (a related chemical),  underneath cleaned up.

Purple Cross Campaign
Here's an awful fact: One out of two households in near Kelly have someone who died from cancer.  These victims of the toxic soup in the aquifer ten feet below their homes are commemorated through the Purple Cross Campaign. The whole campaign for closing, cleaning up and addressing the health effects of military pollution has been based on a popular methodology that the organizers from SWU describe as "We Speak For Ourselves".

San Antonio residents believe the aquifer has been accumulating military toxins since the 1950s.  They have been documenting health effects and organizing for change since the early 1990s.

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