Quantcast

Hunger Strike Continues as Community Demands Transparency of Petrochemical Giant

Energy

Tar Sands Blockade

Residents of the Houston neighborhood of Manchester are demanding today that the Valero refinery, which has been polluting the air surrounding their homes for decades, reveal exactly what toxins it is forcing residents to breathe. Community members were joined by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr., who have committed to an indefinite hunger strike until Valero agrees to divest from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which is linked to environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Canada. Today marks the 29th day of their sustained strike.

The event culminated with a rally and protest outside the Valero refinery that has been forcing local residents to breathe poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals for decades. Community members, organizers, Lindsey and Wilson marched to a neighborhood park that sits in the shadow of the Valero smokestack, carrying a banner that read, “We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe.”

“I have trouble breathing, a really bad cough and asthma. It feels like I can’t breathe, it’s really scary,” said Yudith Nieto, a Houston resident who grew up in the Manchester neighborhood. “You feel helpless and you can’t understand why something like this is happening to you.”

For years residents have been purposefully misinformed and disproportionately exploited for Valero’s benefit. The Manchester community has suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions.

“There is an unending war and Valero has the weapon of destruction,” said Wilson, who has spent decades working to expose how the Texas petrochemical complex has been covering up spills and dumping lethal chemicals into bays along Gulf Coast. “A popular motto of the unions was that an injury to one is an injury to all. Well, make no mistake: Manchester is being harmed.”

Community groups Tar Sands Blockade and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) have been actively organizing a campaign of growing resistance in Manchester, highlighted most recently when Gulf Coast activists Wilson and Lindsey began a sustained hunger strike on Nov. 29, after locking their necks to tanker trucks destined for the Valero refinery.
 
"Manchester is a living example of environmental racism," said María Jiménez, TEJAS board member and life-long resident of Houston's East End. "Today segregation means the unequal impact of air, water and noise pollution on historically marginalized communities. Whether it's the immediate health effects or the long term chronic illnesses, Manchester suffers while Valero pursues record profits."

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL and PIPELINES pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signs the so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule on June 19, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that would have reduced coal-fired plant carbon emissions. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / Twitter

By Elliott Negin

On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.

Read More Show Less
A timber sale in the Kaibab National Forest. Dyan Bone / Forest Service / Southwestern Region / Kaibab National Forest

By Tara Lohan

If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book is required — if depressing — reading.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Somalians fight against hunger and lack of water due to drought as Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, Olgan Bekar (not seen) visits the a camp near the Mogadishu's rural side in Somalia on March 25, 2017. Sadak Mohamed / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

World hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year after decades of decline, a new United Nations (UN) report says. The climate crisis ranks alongside conflict as the top cause of food shortages that force more than 821 million people worldwide to experience chronic hunger. That number includes more than 150 million children whose growth is stunted due to a lack of food.

Read More Show Less
Eduardo Velev cools off in the spray of a fire hydrant during a heatwave on July 1, 2018 in Philadelphia. Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images

By Adrienne L. Hollis

Because extreme heat is one of the deadliest weather hazards we currently face, Union of Concerned Scientist's Killer Heat Report for the U.S. is the most important document I have read. It is a veritable wake up call for all of us. It is timely, eye-opening, transparent and factual and it deals with the stark reality of our future if we do not make changes quickly (think yesterday). It is important to ensure that we all understand it. Here are 10 terms that really help drive home the messages in the heat report and help us understand the ramifications of inaction.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Senator Graham returns after playing a round of golf with Trump on Oct. 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ron Sachs – Pool / Getty Images

Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Senate Republican who has been a close ally of Donald Trump, did not mince words last week on the climate crisis and what he thinks the president needs to do about it.

Read More Show Less
A small Bermuda cedar tree sits atop a rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. todaycouldbe / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Marlene Cimons

Kyle Rosenblad was hiking a steep mountain on the island of Maui in the summer of 2015 when he noticed a ruggedly beautiful tree species scattered around the landscape. Curious, and wondering what they were, he took some photographs and showed them to a friend. They were Bermuda cedars, a species native to the island of Bermuda, first planted on Maui in the early 1900s.

Read More Show Less
krisanapong detraphiphat / Moment / Getty Images

By Grace Francese

You may know that many conventional oat cereals contain troubling amounts of the carcinogenic pesticide glyphosate. But another toxic pesticide may be contaminating your kids' breakfast. A new study by the Organic Center shows that almost 60 percent of the non-organic milk sampled contains residues of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide scientists say is unsafe at any concentration.

Read More Show Less