2011 Goldman Prize for North America: Hilton Kelley, Texas, USAHilton Kelley
USA Toxic & Nuclear Contamination
Now leading the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hilton Kelley fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries.
Port Arthur, Texas
Located among eight major petrochemical and hazardous waste facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast, the largely African-American West Side neighborhood of Port Arthur has long suffered as a result of the near constant emissions spewing from smokestacks ringing the community. Port Arthur is noted by the EPA as having some of the highest levels of toxic air releases in the country, and the companies operating the local plants have been cited with hundreds of state air pollution violations.
The West Side’s asthma and cancer rates are among the highest in the state, while the community’s income levels are among the lowest. As industry has grown, local property values have plummeted. Few jobs exist in the plants for West Side residents. At the end of each workday, a stream of cars heads away from Port Arthur’s industrial facilities toward the more affluent towns nearby as the gas flares continue to burn within sight of the West Side’s schools and federal housing projects.
The facilities operating in the area include the Motiva oil refinery, the Valero refinery, the Huntsman Petrochemical plant, the Chevron Phillips plant, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation’s petroleum facility, the Total Petrochemicals USA facility, Veolia incinerator facility and the BASF Fina Petrochemicals plant.MORE
2003 The Ungreening of America: No Clear Skies
SHORTLY AFTER 4:30 P.M. ON MONDAY, April 14, 2003, the power went out at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The massive plant shut down instantly and, as is common when something goes wrong at a refinery, the "product" in the pipes -- tens of thousands of pounds of highly pressurized liquids and gases -- was released through the smokestacks. In this particular incident, 256,653 pounds of toxic chemicals were hurled into the air over the next 24 hours.
( Read more... )
A Love Letter to Hilton Kelley
I applaud you for your tenacity. You decided shortly after your visit that since there was no one to step up and fight for the survival of your town, it had to be you. And so, incredibly, you moved back, and you took on the fight. And you became known as the man who doesn't give up, who won’t take no for an answer, and who has made an enormous positive impact on environmental protections for Port Arthur. The list of your accomplishments is awe-inspiring:
( Read more... )
This is what we mean when we talk about environmental justice. This toxic stuff keeps on getting located in poor poc backyards. And then next thing you know, politicians are yelling about welfare and overloading hospitals and not doing well in school and the like. This is bullshit. Enough with poisoning people already. Renewable ways of doing things please.