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Toxic Threats to People of Color; Gathering of Environmental Justice leaders in Denver

Contact: Neza Leal, (505) 307-5034, eleal.santillan@gmail.com

Press Conference: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT

(Denver, CO) Juan Parras, Executive Director of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) in Houston, TX, is on the front line of a chemical disaster wiping out the entire Manchester community in Houston. Hundreds of chemical storage facilities in Houston are located in low-income communities and communities of color.  Parras explains, “Today is the 20th Anniversary of Executive Order 12898, to address Environmental Justice in 'Minority' and Low Income Populations, issued by President Clinton. We came to Denver to celebrate our successes, but more importantly, we came because the work is far from done.”

Mr. Parras and others are attending the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) meeting in Denver this week, which is being held at USEPA, Region 8 Conference Center 1595 Wynkoop Street Denver, CO 80202 

Maya Nye, Coordinator of People Concerned About Chemical Safety in Kanawha County, West Virginia, site of the recent chemical spill that has left many without drinking water, will be attending the NEJAC event. Ms. Nye says, “10,000 gallons of a toxic chemical mix used for coal processing spilled into the river, contaminating the public water source that serves 300,000 residents in 9 counties,” says She went on to say, “This chemical disaster was 100% preventable.” 

Michele Roberts, Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance relates, "The number of people sick or dying due to exposure from toxic chemicals in communities like Mossville, Louisiana is outrageous. Generations of families are losing and have lost their lives in communities along 'Cancer Alley'. We need non-voluntary regulations from the DHS, DOL, and EPA to protect the valuable lives of those who live near and work in these dangerous facilities. The government must take responsibility for these ticking time-bombs.”

"We founded the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) in 1994,” says Richard Moore, Executive Director of Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, NM and the first-elected chair of the NEJAC. “We had hoped laws would have been implemented and enforced to prevent people and workers from becoming sick and dying by forcing the chemical companies to be accountable for the harm they cause. Instead, we are seeing one or two chemical incidents a week. We need the EPA Administrator to support real regulations that protect communities and workers near these facilities.”

Mr. Moore and Ms. Roberts will be joining members of the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance from California, New Mexico, Texas, and West Virginia along with environmental justice leaders from throughout the country in Denver this week to evaluate the issues that are preventing people in communities of color from being protected from harm, and to make recommendations to the U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Available for Comment

Maya Nye; Coordinator, People Concerned About Chemical Safety; (304) 389-6859, chemicalsafetyadvocates@gmail.com. Maya is available to comment on how our nation's current toxic chemical safety laws failed to protect emergency responders, physicians and the public during the Elk River chemical spill of 2014. Maya can also describe how S. 697 fails to fix these problems, and in some situations may undermine the nation's ability to protect the public from similar chemical disasters in the future.

Juan Parras; Executive Director, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services; (281) 513-7799, parras.juan@gmail.com.

Michele Roberts; Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; (202) 704-7593, mroberts@comingcleaninc.org. Michele can discuss the disproportionate impacts from toxic chemicals on communities of color.

Richard Moore; Los Jardines Institute; Co-Chair, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; (505) 301-0276, ljinewmexico@gmail.com. Richard can talk about environmental justice issues and organizing in the Southwest, and TSCA reform.  Habla Espanol.