TOXIC AIR POLLUTION, RAMPANT ILLNESS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PEACE BRIDGE TO BE DISCUSSED TONIGHT AT THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WASHINGTON, D.C.
Beginning at 5:00 PM, federal environmental justice leaders, and the nation’s leading environmental justice and civil rights advocates, researchers, and policy makers will convene at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., to learn of the injustices facing Buffalo’s West Side community at the hands of the Peace Bridge and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA).
Organizers of the National Environmental Justice Conference (NEJC) invited Kathleen Mecca, a West Side community activist and president of the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association, to deliver a presentation detailing the known environmental and health conditions facing West Side residents as a result of toxic diesel engine exhaust originating from the commercial trucks that use the Peace Bridge. Ms. Mecca’s presentation is titled: “The High Cost of Free Trade: Importing Pollution at the Expense of Buffalo’s Poor.”
This presentation represents a new era in West Side residents’ decades-long fight for environmental justice, as this critical issue now enters the national spotlight. Just as Tonawanda Coke was brought to task after the community raised their concerns to national leaders, the PBA could face a similar fate for facilitating and promoting commercial truck traffic, leading to unsafe levels of diesel exhaust that blanket the West Side. Not only has this air pollution resulted in an asthma rate four times the national average, but, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency, “long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particles poses the highest cancer risk of any toxic air contaminant.”
The National Environmental Justice Conference will take place April 3-5, 2013 and is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and a number of private and non-profit organizations. Ms. Mecca’s presentation will be delivered during the opening keynote session on April 3, 2013, beginning at 5:00 PM at Howard University Law School, 2900 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008.