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GALENA PARK: Air quality report cites health dangers

belinda vasquez - st john

Belinda Vasquez-St. John places monitors at Galena Park City Hall.

GALENA PARK – Belinda Vasquez-St. John spoke to the city council at their last meeting on July 15, and summarized a report her organization, Air Alliance Houston, had just issued on air quality issues in Galena Park. A summary of the report follows:

“Galena Park, Texas is an environmental justice community of some 10,000 residents on the Houston Ship Channel. The community is surrounded by the ship channel; industry, particularly that associated with Houston petrochemical industry; rail lines; and high traffic roadways, including I-10 to the north and 610 to the west.

Air Alliance Houston has been active in Galena Park for several years. It is a community in which concerns about pollution and public health run high. However, a lack of resources and knowledge leads to very little public engagement on issues that impact environmental quality and health. Although citizens are worried about their health, there is little sense that they can personally affect change.

Air Alliance Houston and Global Community Monitor conducted a community health impact survey, and community mapping workshop, and a community air monitoring project. Air monitoring was conducted over the course of a year for fine particulate matter and elemental carbon, a surrogate for diesel pollution. The results of the yearlong community air monitoring project form the basis of this report. An independent report was produced by a graduate student at the Rice University Department of Statistics.

Diesel pollution presents an unacceptable health risk in Galena Park. Cancer risk due to diesel pollution exposure may exceed 1 in 10,000. Fine particulate matter pollution may exceed federal health standards as well.

Galena Park must act now to reduce diesel and particulate matter pollution in order to protect its residents’ health. We recommend aggressive steps to limit diesel pollution by banning older, dirty trucks and diverting trucks from Galena Park roads. We also recommend further testing to determine the extent of air pollution in Galena Park, and its impacts.

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Supreme Court to define EPA “suit” for Waste Pits

AUSTIN – The Texas Supreme Court accepted certification from the Fifth Circuit Court to decide if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) orders a company to clean up something, is that a “suit.” This will determine who pays for cleanup of the waste pits in the San Jacinto River.

The high court will hear this case of whether an insurer has to pay for lawsuits that are in fact administrative actions of government agencies in Texas law. At present, a number of such decisions have been made in Texas and throughout the nation. The decisions reached before have fallen into three categories: those that require a formal complaint by the government agency, others saying if a letter has been issued by the agency that is like a suit, while others have determined that it may depend on how coercive the action is to the company before it is considered a suit.

Presented to the courts are documents that will allege that McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation, a waste disposal company, removed waste from a paper mill and released it in three ponds adjacent to the San Jacinto River during the 1960s and early 1970s.

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ASTRODOME PROPOSAL CRITICIZED BY EMMETT: Demolition plan called “silly”

The iconic “DOME” may be converted into a green area like the one shown in this diagram after County leaders recently expressed that they are open to consider a $66 million plan devised by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the NFL’s Houston Texans to demolish the Astrodome and become a green area like Discovery Green in downtown. (Photo courtesy of Gensler)

The iconic “DOME” may be converted into a green area like the one shown in this diagram after County leaders recently expressed that they are open to consider a $66 million plan devised by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the NFL’s Houston Texans to demolish the Astrodome and become a green area like Discovery Green in downtown. (Photo courtesy of Gensler)

HOUSTON, Texas – Last Thursday, July 17, 2014 Judge Ed Emmett called “silly” a new proposed plan to demolish the Astrodome and replace it with a design for a park-like green space with structures.

The Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo have proposed to convert the iconic “Dome” into a green area, which they say will be like Discovery Green in Downtown Houston. The design was shown with renderings by the architectural firm, Gensler Associates.

Even though there is not a specific proposal nor is one under consideration by Harris County Commissioners Court; Judge Emmett said that demolishing the dome could be a waste of a valuable taxpayers asset. He noted that the partners that proposed this new scheme did not say how much money they were willing to put into its construction, and did not have a real use in mind for the space. They said the preliminary cost of this scheme was $66 million.

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What’s Happening to Our Schools? It’s not good

Dear Editor,

My name is Dickie Woods. I came to the delightful little town of Highlands about 30 years ago. I saw good people, a great school system, little traffic and awesome landscape. I bought some properties and got involved in the community and started some businesses. I took leadership roles in Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and Water District # 1. I have been a supporter of the Volunteer Fire Department and the School District with donations and participated in Partner’s In Education and the Goose Creek Education Foundation.

At one time, I had four grandkids in GCCISD. Now, I have two. One graduated and is in college (my oldest) and one moved away because of a job change by her dad. I never took time to personally get involved in the schools other than with the Chamber or Rotary. I didn’t see the need until this past year. I was asked a couple of months ago, as a chamber director, to represent the Highlands Community on the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. I filled out the application and was accepted, so that began my involvement with the administration. Now, I am hearing more about what is happening in the District and it is disturbing.

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A Call to Arms

Open Letter to the Public:

Our school district is in trouble and it is up to you to save it. Yes, you. A few brave souls have talked to, written, called, or emailed the seven Board members recently to ask for action regarding the current Superintendent. 400 or more expressed their opinion by personally attending the Board meeting on July 14. Now, the Board members need to hear from the rest of the thousands of you who care about the future of GCCISD. You need to demand that they stop the damage that is being done by the Superintendent’s personnel actions, as it is negatively affecting our schools, our principals, our teachers, our administrators, our counselors, our operations and support staff, and most importantly our children. Very simply, we made a mistake when we hired Salvador Cavazos and then allowed him to dismantle the very fabric and soul of our district. You need to demand that your school Board do the right thing, right now, and terminate this Superintendent’s employment with GCCISD immediately.

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