Jaduguda Uranium Mines

By: Ashley Abraham SFSU 2017

The Jaduguda Mines provide 25% of material that fuel India’s nuclear reactors[1]. However, 28% of the uranium mined are  waste and are then dumped into ponds[2]. This is an environmental issue due to the uranium radiation emitting from the ponds and the mines. Villagers reported many health issues such as fertility loss and deformities[3]. Another issue is the loss of land due to the mines which made farmers jobless[4]. I will show that the energy injustices at this site arose due to the resource curse.

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Workers in the Jaduguda mines.

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Exxon Mobil Beaumont Refinery

By: Jasmine Babbs, SFSU, 2017

History

The Charlton-Pollard area of Beaumont, Texas is home an Exxon Mobil refinery. The refinery opened in the early 1900s after a salt dome oil field, the Lucas gusher at Spindletop, was discovered in the area. The discovery of oil at this location assisted in leading the United States into the oil age, where we still reside today. At the time of its initial striking, this area was said to produce more oil in one day than the rest of the oil fields in the United States combined. According to the Texas State Historical Association, “three major oil companies—the Texas Company (later Texaco), Gulf Oil Corporation, and Humble (later Exxonqv)—were formed in Beaumont during the first year of the boom.”[1] Exxon Mobil, formerly known as The Magnolia Refinery,  “became the city’s largest employer; by 1980 it was Mobil’s largest manufacturing plant” [1] . Today it continues to be the largest employer for those that live in the area, but now struggles to maintain a positive image amongst the community.

Sustainability Issues

This energy site focuses on refining crude oil/fossil fuel that comes out of the ground, into usable gasoline to power cars, boats, trains, buses, tractors and heavy construction equipment. Lesser known uses of the oil are for heating and generating electricity. While the refinery has brought jobs to the area, something generally seen as a positive thing, it has also come with extremely negative consequences that clearly outweigh the employment aspect. In addition to foul and sour smelling air, residents in the vicinity of the refinery have reported various health problems such as: asthma, birth defects, cancer, hair/memory loss, headaches, and heart disease.

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Map of the Charlton-Pollard area of Beaumont, Texas and its proximity to the Exxon Mobil refinery. (Source: Google Maps)

The blatant issue is the extremely high levels of emissions coming from this refinery and constant disregard of federal law regarding the acceptable amount of emissions, both of which have a extremely negative impact the residents. The emissions released include: “benzene, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxide, hydrogen sulfide and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs)” [2], all of which are detrimental to human health and environmental wellbeing. The Exxon Mobil Refinery, along with other refineries in Texas regularly ignore laws put in place such as the Clean Air Act, which is responsible for enforcing action against companies/refineries that have illegal pollution releases. Recently, a Texas court found that Exxon Mobil violated the Clean Air Act a total of 16,386 times resulting in a $21 million dollar fine. This ruling came seven years after the company was sued by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club for “failed to implement technology that would curb emissions” [3] and specifically addressed the Baytown refinery, not Beaumont.

Those disproportionately affected by this environmental injustice are the residents of the Charlton-Pollard area, a predominantly African American community. Members of this community have filed several lawsuits with the EPA only to get responses in a matter of years. What is going on there is a form of environmental racism, as many residents complain of severe health problems and lack of follow up/enforcement of regulations and fines on this refinery. The complaint filed against the EPA by the residents in of the area in 2000 has only now in 2017 been “accepted for investigation by the EPA” [4]. The complaint includes “allowing Exxon to release pollutants above safe levels, failed to adequately penalize the company for exceeding emission limits and not allowing public participation through a contested case hearing” [2]. Unfortunately, “Between 2000 and 2016, while the people who live next to the plant waited for an investigation, the refinery emitted more than 400 million pounds of pollution into the air” [5]

Environmental racism is occurring here in two important ways. First, Exxon Mobil clearly ignores the operating rules in this community and continues to violate them, putting the health of the residents and their environment in serious danger. Exxon Mobil clearly demonstrates a lack of care for the community by paying the fines and continuing to emit heavily.  Second, the EPA continues to ignore this communities request for investigation which is clearly a form of institutional racism. The EPA’s job is to regulate/protect the environment and investigate any wrongdoing on behalf of any corporation in any community.

 

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View of Exxon Mobil oil refinery from the street. (Source: Beaumont Enterprise)

Solutions

All of these problems come together to create an environment in which the residents of the area do not have a say in what goes on in their communities. Hopefully, shedding light on this issue can educate others on the results of environmental racism and help the community move toward better regulation on their environmental conditions. Our reliance on oil feeds into the existing unequal power dynamic between communities like Beaumont and oil behemoths like Exxon Mobil. Because oil has become a staple in our everyday lives, particularly for transportation, companies like Exxon have been able to accumulate large amounts of money continuously, which helps them to ignore laws put in place for emission violations. If the EPA would drastically increase the fines for violating the rules,  oil companies would be deterred from breaking the law. Because these fines pale in comparison to their revenue, Exxon and others will continue to feel comfortable violating state/federal laws and civil/human rights as well. Together, we must acknowledge the impact our oil dependence has on marginalized communities that house the facilities that bear the brunt of the environmental impact for us to ultimately make use of this energy source.

 

References

[1] ISAAC, P. E. (2010, June 11). BEAUMONT, TX. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hdb02

[2] Bright, I., & Tropical-Rainforest-Animals.com. (2008, April). Air Pollutants, Types and Classification. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from http://www.tropical-rainforest-animals.com/Air-Pollutants.html

[2] Sadasivam, N. (2017, June 02). After 17 Years, EPA Settles Racial Discrimination Case Against TCEQ. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://www.texasobserver.org/after-17-years-epa-settles-racial-discrimination-case-against-tceq/

[3] Visser, N. (2017, April 27). Exxon Fined $21 Million For Violating Clean Air Act 16,386 Times. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/exxon-texas-clean-air-act_us_59019dafe4b0af6d718b82f2

[4]Environmental Protection Agency (2017, October 31). Exxonmobil Oil Corporation Clean Air Act Settlement Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/exxon-mobil-corporationexxonmobil-oil-corporation-clean-air-act-settlement

[5] Lerner, S. (2017, August 13). Exxon Mobil Is Still Pumping Toxins Into Black Community in Texas 17 Years After Civil Rights Complaint. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://theintercept.com/2017/08/13/exxon-mobil-is-still-pumping-toxins-into-black-community-in-texas-17-years-after-civil-rights-complaint/

 

 

 

Choosing Profit Over People, Oil Development at the Cost of Indigenous life in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador

By Brenda Gonzalez, SFSU, 2017

Living within the amazon basin of northern Ecuador are thousands of indigenous Ecuadorians whose lifelines are intertwined with that of the forest[1]. These indigenous people who call the rainforest home use its water, its land, its vegetation, and its animals to survive[2]. When the rainforest is put in jeopardy so are they. For the past 22 years the indigenous people of the communities within the amazon basin, or oriente, have been fighting Chevron, the company that acquired Texaco in 2001, to make it pay for the environmental degradation and resulting health issues that arose from the oil development that occurred in their home[3]. Development in areas such as the amazon basin are often plagued by what is referred to as the resource curse, and a result of energy colonialism.

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Hand Covered in crude oil from the Open-Air Pits in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador

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DaTong coal mining, China

Written at SFSU in 2017.
Datong mining area is located in Datong City, southwest of Datong, a city of coal mining and coal industry. With the continuous development of coal resources, the surrounding environment is impacted to varying degrees. The coal mining production and coal consumption creates air and water pollution[1].  I will show the energy injustices of this site acrose through the coal mining at this site occur because of environmental racism and scrifice zones.

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An open coal mine in Chifeng , China.

 

Coal mining on the rise in China, US, India

According to Cohen (2014),  ” as the end of 2014, China had 62 billion tons of anthracite and 52 billion tons of lignite quality coal. China ranks third in the world in terms of total coal reserves behind the United States and Russia”[2].  World Nuclear Association found “Most coal reserves are located in the north and north-west of the country, which poses a large logistical problem for supplying electricity to the more heavily populated coastal areas”[3]. At current levels of production, China has 30 years worth of reserves.

The miner in DaTong, China.

When the factories in China’s coastal areas sell their products to the world, when the city people move into high-rise buildings to acquire new cars, the miners are a group of people who work hard in dangerous environments and create value for society and the family but they have difficult lives[5].

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[6] A worker carries a sack of coal, it’s a hard and dirty work but that’s the only job he can find because DaTong whole city is work for the coal.

Coal burning pollution.

In cities China didn’t allowed coal burning indoor any more, but people still using coal to cook at small village. This will cause houses fill with high levels of toxic metals smoke[7].

According to Finkelman et al.,” people eat food cooked over coal fires which contains toxic substances. Toxic substances from coal burning include arsenic, fluorine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and mercury. Health issues are caused which include severe arsenic poisoning, skeletal fluorosis (over 10 million people afflicted in China), esophageal and lung cancers, and selenium poisoning” (3427) [8].

Effects of Coal Mining on Water Resources in Mining Area.

Coal mines are mainly concentrated in the mouth spring ditch, Yungang ditch and its sides. “Shilihe, Zhiquan ditch for the main water system, but also mine drainage, industrial wastewater and domestic sewage exports”[1].

1)coal mines use a large amount of water also discharge tons of wastewater, resulting in waste of water resources, so that the groundwater resources tense both for coal mining and DaTong city residents[1].
2) During the development of coal mines, groundwater penetrates the coal-bearing strata to penetrate into the lower pit, which reduces the amount of water in the upper aquifer and reduces the water level, which causes the water shortage of the local residents[9].
3) Due to the long-term drainage to form a pit-centered drop funnel, the groundwater level in the mining area is reduced, the amount of well water is reduced, the river runoff is reduced or cut off, thus affecting the normal supply of water downstream of the river[10].
4) Coal mining after mining, underground mined-out area to become water collection space, those place are not stable could cause manmade ground collapse. It will harm for miner and residence[1].

Video from youTube: Creek in Datong China Pollution Issue This scale of coal mining water pollution exemplifies a serious environmental issue at coal mining area.

Environmental Injustice.

China’s econmic is growing so fast today, city like DaTong have to sacrifice their own city to genrate China’s developing engine, China is developing very fast but Datong’s residents and miners have to facing environmental pollution caused by  coal mining. It is unfair let the Datong’s people bear the pressure of development

References:

[1] Zhang C.Y, Water Environment Analysis and Water Resources Protectionof Datong Mining Area in Shanxi Province. Shanxi coking Coal Science & Technology. Received September 2010.

https://wenku.baidu.com/view/7d760c48e518964bcf847c9c.html

[2] Cohen, Armond (April 21, 2014). “Learning from China: A Blueprint for the Future of Coal in Asia?”The National Bureau of Asian Research. Retrieved August 8, 2014.

http://www.nbr.org/research/activity.aspx?id=418

[3] “Nuclear Power in China”Country BriefingsWorld Nuclear Association. 31 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-04.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/china-nuclear-power.aspx

[4] “Asian coal boom: climate threat or mirage?”Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. Mar 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016.

http://eciu.net/press-releases/2016/asian-coal-boom-climate-threat-or-mirage

[5] Tan Z. F, Chen K. T, Ju L. W, Liu P. K, Zhang C. Issues and solutions of China’s generation resource utilization based on sustainable development. Journal of Modern Power Systems and Clean Energy. April 2016, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 147–160

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40565-016-0199-2

[6] China Labour bulletin. Coal mine accidents in China decrease as production stagnates. Supporting the Workers’ Movement in China. 03/04/2014

http://www.clb.org.hk/content/coal-mine-accidents-china-decrease-production-stagnates

[7] Environmental Health Perspectives. Household Air Pollution from Coal and Biomass Fuels in China: Measurements, Health Impacts, and Interventions. Received July 3, 2006; Accepted February 27, 2007.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892127/

[8] Finkelman R.B, Harvey E. Belkin, and Baoshan Zheng. Health impacts of domestic coal use in ChinaProc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 March 30; 96(7): 3427–3431.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC34284/

[9] Gabbard, A (5 February 2008). “Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger”. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-22.

https://web.archive.org/web/20070205103749/http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

[10] Zhang H. J, Tan Z. F, Xu H (2013) Research on generation coal-saving effect of the tiered pricing of residential electricity under different power generation structures. In: Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on automatic control and mechatronic engineering (ICACME’13), Bangkok, Thailand, 21–22 Jun 2013, pp 679–701

https://www.scientific.net/AMM.415.697

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station

By Owen Keller, SFSU, 2017

Turkey Point, a nuclear generating station located in Homestead, Florida. It was developed in 1973 and is positioned between the Biscayne National Park and the Everglades National Park, and under a half mile directly across is a wildlife refuge for crocodiles and State Botanical sites[1] TPNGS is one of the only nuclear generating stations left that uses cooling canals as their heat rejection source and these canals are the reason for their pollution, as they are prone to leakage[2] This bay is home to lots of aquatic life, all of which are being threatened not only ecologically but also commercially[3] Within a 10-mile radius there is a population of about 200,000 people with the majority of the population being Hispanic and of low income[4] These people have been enduring the harmful effects that have come from TPNGS for more than 4 decades now and have yet to see any change. The only progress the people of Homestead have seen was when TPNGS tried to expand their station a few years back, but luckily these plans of expansion were stopped through criticism of the city and other issues[5] Since the development of this site, the Biscayne Bay has been accumulating lots of harmful chemicals, which are now reaching the Biscayne Aquifer and threatening to contaminate Florida’s main source of drinking water[6] In this analysis I will further explain the energy injustice that has arose in Turkey Point nuclear generating station, where it is clear that the community of Homestead, Florida are facing an act of Environmental Racism.

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Turkey Point nuclear generating station located in Homestead, Florida. (Acroterion 2012)

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Oil Refinery in Peruvian Amazon

By: Jillian Solomon, SFSU, 2017

The Iquitos Refinery is 14km from Iquitos City, Peru, in the Loreto Region, capital of the Peruvian Amazon [1]. A city deep within the jungle, inaccessible by road, with approximately 437,620 inhabitants [2]. It is a small refinery situated in a resource rich region, located on the left bank of the Amazon river with a capacity of 10,500 barrels per day [3]. Equipped with a rusty four-decade old pipeline used to transport extracted crude oil, making oil spills inevitable [4]. These spills stain the land that many indigenous communities in Iquitos depend on for their survival. This analysis will show the energy injustices at this site, and how they arose, through the theory of the resource curse.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/70118259@N00/801507014
Map of Iquitos, Peru

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