The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Proposed Detention Center for Child Migrants Contaminated With Lead and Other Pollutants
A site that the Trump administration proposed as a migrant detention center for unaccompanied children is contaminated with several pollutants that could harm the children's health, a report released by EarthJustice on Tuesday found.
In June 2018, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the government was preparing to house unaccompanied children at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, as Reuters reported. However, EarthJustice said that the base was near four Superfund sites.
"Public records show the migrant detention site proposed for Goodfellow will be built atop a former landfill, in an area riddled with lead, benzene and other chemicals particularly hazardous to children," EarthJustice attorney Lisa Evans said in a press release.
The potentially hazardous sites include:
- A landfill that has leached lead, arsenic and other solid waste into the soil and groundwater
- An aqueous film forming foam release area contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS)
- A firing range where soil is contaminated with lead
- A carbon tetrachloride spill where there are volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
- A fuel storage and spill area where there are arsenic and high levels of VOCs, including benzene, toluene, chlorobenzene, trichloroethene, 1,1-dichloroethene, methylene chloride, chloroform and carbon tetrachloride in the groundwater
The report found that lead levels in the soil have previously surpassed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safe levels for play areas by 27 times and that lead in the groundwater surpassed EPA safe levels by more than 20 percent.
The findings come three months after EarthJustice sued the Trump administration for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for information on the government's plans for the detention center at Goodfellow. EarthJustice reports that 7,500 children could be housed there.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said that fact-finding visits had been taken to Goodfellow and other potential detention sites, but that "none of these properties are under active consideration at this time," Reuters reported.
In July, a draft environmental assessment of the base undertaken by the Air Force found that there were no significant environmental impacts to construction there, meaning it could begin without in-depth review.
But EarthJustice warned that much would have to be done to make the base safe for children.
"Before housing for children is built at the Air Force Base, soil may have to be removed, groundwater tested, waste sites thoroughly removed or covered, and the commercial/industrial restrictions will need to be lifted to allow residential housing for children," the organization said.
- Toxic Tents | Sierra Club ›
- Concerns Mount Over Toxic Wastes at Migrant Detention Centers ... ›
- Bases for Migrant Detention Contain Nuclear Waste, Other Toxins ... ›
- US Is Locking Immigrants in Toxic Detention Centers :: Earth Island ... ›
- Immigrant detention camp proposed for Concord is also Superfund ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.
The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.
Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.
By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon
The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.
By Tara Lohan
By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.
Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust
By Fran Korten
On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.