Jesse Marquez: Public Preparedness for Threats from Refineries, Ports, and Freeways

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Environmental Justice Activist Jesse Marquez speaks with EcoJustice Radio on how frontline communities can prepare to confront the dangers of living around five oil refineries, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and hemmed in by the truck-clogged 710 and 110 freeways.

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The Los Angeles Harbor community is starving for oxygen. Environmental Justice Activist Jesse Marquez speaks with Carry Kim of EcoJustice Radio about his personal account of living next to an oil refinery and the dangers his community faces from five of these facilities around the South Bay of Los Angeles. As well, his work with Coalition For A Safe Environment (CFASE) also suggests ways to deal with the pollution from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and further foul air and noise from the truck-clogged 710 and 110 freeways. Fresh air in the shadow of an industrial sacrifice zone is often in short supply for those who call those neighborhoods home.

Moreover, the Los Angeles Basin, home to 13 million people, has over 1,000 active oil drilling sites, pumping and emitting gases and noise next to schools, churches, and residences. How do these day-to-day operations affect our communities? What do people need to know to take appropriate action in the event of a refinery accident or oil spill?

AQMD data shows the five refineries in the immediate area — owned by Marathon (formerly Andeavor/Tesoro), Phillips 66, and Valero — reported releasing nearly 14 million pounds of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and so-called criteria pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and fine particles. Oil refineries report only a fraction of the emissions they release, according to a 2016 study by Swedish academics, and the poisons in this brew can cause cancer and heart disease as well as asthma.

The sad reality is that the majority of L.A.’s industrial oil activity takes place in low-income and minority communities, where residents aren’t afforded the same regulatory protections as individuals living in affluent areas.

Wilmington Los Angeles Phillips 66 refinery

The Phillips 66 refinery looms over a Wilmington neighborhood.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Jesse Marquez is the Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Organization the Coalition For A Safe Environment (CFASE) established in April 2001 in Wilmington, California, to eliminate, reduce and mitigate the negative community environmental, public health, public safety and socioeconomic impacts caused by International Trade Marine Ports, Freight Transportation Corridors, Petroleum and Energy Industries.

CFASE works to protect, promote, preserve, and restore our Mother Earth’s delicate ecology, environment, natural resources and wildlife.

More info on website still in the works: cfase.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coalitionforasafeenvironment/

Hosted by Jessica Aldridge from SoCal 350 and Adventures in Waste.
Interview by Carry Kim
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 46

Soundcloud image thanks to Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Updated 30 November 2019

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt