PORT ARTHUR — Communication between industry and
residents of Port Arthur’s Westside has room for improvement, according to
citizens attending a community meeting presented by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Tuesday.
A buffer zone, or barrier fence between homes and industry is another concern
among residents, Hilton Kelley, Founder and CEO of Community In-power and
Development Association Inc., member of the National Environmental Justice
Advisory Council and community activist, said at the meeting held at Mount
Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.
“I’ve talked with industry in the area and they’ve expressed an interest in assisting
but who will carry the burden, or finance the project,” he said.
While attendees agreed that local industry and refineries are an essential part
of the area, there are dangers as well. Breathing problems related to emissions
cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, as was noted by several speakers.
Ike Mills, of Mills Consulting, told EPA representatives he would like to see
the redevelopment of areas in the city through the Brownfields program or
another applicable program, while Geraldine Hunt expressed concern about air
monitoring and high unemployment rates.
Attendees at Tuesday’s meeting had the opportunity to provide input to the EPA
for the Port Arthur Environmental Justice Showcase Community Project, a project
that focuses on the city’s Westside.
EPA will now take the information back to its Dallas office for review.
Representatives said addressing the problems and concerns will be a
On Nov. 17, 2009, the EPA announced a national initiative to address environmental
justice challenges in 10 communities across the country.
The selected Environmental Justice Showcase Communities will use collaborative,
community-based approaches to improve public health and the environment.
Port Arthur’s Westside community will serve as the Environmental Justice
Showcase Community for the five state EPA Region 6 area.
The goal is to address environmental justice challenges in communities
disproportionally exposed to environmental risks. The project is expected to
last two years.