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.
BREAKING: Trump wants to hold migrant kids in toxic cages. Earthjustice uncovered disturbing new details of Trump’s… https://t.co/AFcFSdEsua— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice)1549984119.0
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.
#EPA Places Children’s Health Leader on Unexplained Leave @cleanairmoms #DrRuthEtzel #RuthEtzel https://t.co/9tGK5ilVyj— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1538056391.0
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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