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CCAEJ

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Community Perspectives

"I've been a resident of the rural community of Glen Avon/Mira Loma for more than 41 years. Located next to Highway 60 and Interstate 15, our unincorporated area is the target of industrial development of massive warehouses and distribution centers. The expansion of goods imported into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has created a demand for rail hauling of goods that has led to the expansion of the Union Pacific railyard—now the largest auto distribution center in the world.

In five years, our sleepy, agriculturally based community turned into a major industrial park. More than 120 warehouses have replaced cow pastures and vineyards. Our mountain views have been replaced by looming cement monoliths. The Union Pacific is now directly next to our high school. Hundreds of trucks park and idle 20 feet from the athletic fields where our children play.

The Inland Valleys of Riverside and San Bernardino have long had high levels of smog pollution, but recently the main focus has turned to particulate matter (PM). The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked us fourth in the world in PM pollution, after Jakarta, Indonesia; Calcutta, India; and Bangkok, Thailand. According to researchers at USC, the children in our communities have the slowest lung growth and weakest lung capacity of all children studied in Southern California. Asthma and other respiratory ailments are prevalent. Cancer risk from freight transport is 1,500 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s 'acceptable' risk levels.

With this development, our streets and rural roads have become danger zones. Residents must compete with semi trucks for space on the same roads. Horse riders navigate trails that now wind through industrial areas. Children who once enjoyed the open fields now are confined to their own backyards for recreation. We greatly fear the prediction that freight transport will increase exponentially. Our families simply can’t take any more."

- Penny Newman, Glen Avon/Mira Loma resident and Executive Director of CCAEJ

Source: "Paying with Our Health: The Real Cost of Freight Transport in California." A Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative Report by the Pacific Institute. November 2006.

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice

El Centro de Acción Comunitaria y Justicia Ambiental

Riverside & San Bernardino

 

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) is one of the oldest and most accomplished environmental health and justice organizations in the nation, with a history dating back to 1978.  CCAEJ’s mission is to bring people together to improve our social and natural environment. We do this by empowering diverse communities to create safer, healthier, toxic free places to live, work, learn and play.

CCAEJ consistently focuses on those most affected by environmental health hazards: low income communities of color and recent immigrants who live, work, learn and play closest to rail yards, industrial areas, toxic waste facilities, intermodal facilities, freeways and other areas at greatest risk for environmental health hazard.  We work to train future generations of leaders, particularly women whose voices would otherwise not be heard.

One of the concerns and a critical issue in the Inland Valley is that of the struggle of community with the devastating public health affects of air pollution caused by the Goods Movement Industry and the unbridled development.

Mira Loma children have the weakest lung capacity and slowest lung growth of all children studied in Southern California. These alarming statistics are the reality for the poor, Latino residents of the unincorporated communities of Mira Loma and Glen Avon in Riverside County. The concentration of truck activity has resulted in the area being designated as a diesel “hot spot” by the South Coast Air Quality Management District with a cancer risk of 1500 in a million, dramatically affecting the health and lives of local residents. While the science is clear, the documentation of pollution levels is substantial, and suggested  reasonable  solutions outlined, the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino  have continued to place industrial warehouses, truck terminals and railyards next to homes, schools and parks ignoring the severe health impacts those decisions inflict on the families in the area.

The Goods Movement Campaign is designed to confront the disregard for basic human rights and public health. We seek to increase public awareness through community outreach and our community empowerment program. Through the program a group of residents have become the “A” Team who are leaders in their neighborhoods have been a part of the USC Children’s Health Study and have been trained to do truck counting and work with the P-TRAK monitoring diesel emissions. 

The cornerstone of our work has the goal of guiding more inland Valley residents towards a more proactive, leadership role in influencing the decisions that directly affect their health, the health of their neighbors and the health of the community as a whole.   

 

 

Contact Information:

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)
El Centro de Acción Comunitaria y Justicia Ambiental

www.ccaej.org

Maintained by the Trade, Health & Environment Impact Project