Boggscenter – Living For Change News – December 9th, 2019

 

December 9th, 2019

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Thinking for Ourselves

Water Warnings
Shea Howell

As thousands of people across the country participated in the December 6th Climate Strike lead by youth activists, many Detroiters were wondering if their drinking water was safe. Sketchy reports were surfacing about the collapse of the shore line holding land long contaminated with toxic chemicals, including uranium. The Wall Street Journal listed the site as one of “America’s forgotten nuclear legacy wastelands” in 2013. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said in 2011 that the “potential exists for significant residual radiation” on the site.

But no one seemed particularly concerned until last week end. Having been passed along through a series of “owners,” including the city, only people with long memories thought of the piles along the river as the Revere Copper and Brass site. Few, including its current owners, seemed aware of the critical role the former pot and bearing company had played in the development of the Atomic bomb. But during the 1940s and through the 1950’s uranium was processed there. Between 1943 and 1944 , under the Manhattan Project, at least 1,220 tons of uranium were extruded on the site. Today we are told that the possibility of uranium contamination is slight, but there is no question that the soil contains a toxic mix of chemicals including mercury, PCBs and PAHs.

As various news outlets began to report on the collapse into the river, long-time activist and water plant expert Russ Bellant said:

The Detroit Free Press reported today that with the radioactive material entering the Detroit river “the news is concerning because the Detroit drinking water intake lines are nearby downriver.”  This is not true and thus needlessly alarming.

Detroit’s main intakes are at about seven miles upriver and therefore not subject to this material. The Detroit system has one intake on the Canadian side of the Detroit River that supplies the Southwest Water Treatment Plant in Allen Park. That plant feeds downriver communities. That plant should cease its intake and receive water for its customers from the huge Springwells plant. We are in a low demand season for water so shifting these loads is doable.

Of more concern are cities like Wyandotte, Monroe, Toledo and many Ontario communities that have their own intakes downriver from the spill. They need an aggressive investigation by EPA and EGLE and quick remedies, but their record to date is disconcerting. The Free Press reports that EPA did not know of the November contamination until the Windsor Star called them Wednesday, while EGLE says don’t worry. Neither agency shows the alarm and urgency required. The same attitude they had regarding Flint for far too long.

I urge folks to contact the Great Lakes Water Authority to urge protection of the downriver communities by shifting the load from the Southwest plant to the rest of the Detroit system until safe water can be assured for all their own intakes downriver from the spill. They need an aggressive investigation by EPA and EGLE and quick remedies, but their record to date is disconcerting. The Free Press reports that EPA did not know of the November contamination until the Windsor Star called them Wednesday, while EGLE says don’t worry. Neither agency shows the alarm and urgency required. The same attitude they had regarding Flint for far too long.

I urge folks to contact the Great Lakes Water Authority to urge protection of the downriver communities by shifting the load from the Southwest plant to the rest of the Detroit system until safe water can be assured for all.”

This most recent, predictable possibility of contamination to our water is a reminder of how urgent the message is of young people gathering on our streets to demand action on climate change.  Business as usual is what has brought us to the point where shifting sands can poison entire cities, where waters are rising, and the legacies of war, empire, and industry are threating all life. The  river reminds us that we urgently need to make broad, deep changes to how we are living if we are to find our way to the future.

Neighborhood on the Edge

Who chooses what happens to our neighborhood? This is the question posed by the multi-media installation, Neighborhood on the Edge, by Shaun Nethercott, activist, 2016 Kresge Arts Fellow and award-winning co-founder of Matrix Theatre Company in Hubbard Richard.  This Art X Detroit 2019 art experience will take place at the Mexicantown Latino Cultural Center, 2835 Bagley, Detroit, 48216.

December 8 – December 22

Installation visitors will encounter the voices and images of ten Hubbard Richard residents and hear them tell their stories, why they may stay or go and how the area has changed over the years. The installation is part of a city-wide, multi-disciplinary series featuring twenty-two newly commissioned exhibitions, performances and events developed by alumni Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Awardees.

Find out more at @mexicantowncdcdetroit