Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice on successes and shocking health study near BNSF San Bernardino Railyard

The post below was received by email from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), a Moving Forward Network participant.

For more information on the health study, see Health Study Reveals Elevated Cancers and Children’s Asthma.

Center for Community Action
and Environmental Justice 

     Another step toward Victory!
Omnitrans – 80,000 gallons of explosive gas next to school!

Last night the residents of the Westside of the City of San Bernardino won a major victory in gaining support from the San Bernardino City Unified School Districts Board of Education.    In a 5-1 vote and 1 board member absent,  the Board adopted a Resolution supporting the residents’ call for Omnitrans to move its 80,000 gallon tanks of explosive LNG/CNG out of the residential area.  The fueling station requiring the storage of these massive tanks is located directly across the street from Ramona Alessandro Elementary School.  This is the second time the School Board has passed a resolution in support of moving those tanks!

For more than a decade residents have fought to have this dangerous situation corrected by having the tanks moved out of the residential area and into an industrial area.  With the increased use of natural gas across the country, the episodes of massive explosions have been increasing.  CCAEJ documented more than 20 explosions just since the beginning of the year in this country alone.  A mapping program that estimates the area of impact if an explosion occurred found that a circle of more than 0.3 miles would be wiped out if an explosion happened in San Bernardino.  Centered in this  “Zone of Harm” is the Ramona Alessandro School.

We thank the Board members for demonstrating their concern for the safety of the students and staff at the school through their action.  We especially want to thank Dr. Barbara Flores, Danny Tillman and Abigail Medina for their strong comments and support.

Next Step – San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors!

Health Study Results 

On another topic affecting the same neighborhood as the Omnitrans explosive tanks,  the Board heard from Loma Linda University researchers, Drs. Sam Soret and Susanne Montgomery, explaining the shocking results from the Health Study they conducted near the BNSF Railyard.  The study looked at three aspects of health – a review of Cancer cases in the area; a household adult health survey and a Children’s Respiratory Health Study.  The researchers focused on the Children’s Respiratory Health Study, which was conducted on students at the Ramona Alessandro Elementary School and a control school in Fontana.  1,066 children participated (74%).  Two lung function tests were given – PEF, a lung function indicator and FENO a marker for airway inflammation.  The results were alarming:

·   47% of students at Ramona Alessandro Elementary School demonstrated asthma or asthma-like      symptoms.
· Children at Ramona Alessandro experienced a significant 59% increase in the prevalence of reduced PEF compared to the control school children.
· 70% of the parents did not know their children had asthma.

In the discussion that ensued Board members strongly agreed that this is serious information and that we need to do all we can to assist in reducing exposures.  One of the measures already taken by the School District was allowing CCAEJ to install high performance air Filtration units at 7 of their schools including Ramona Alessandro.  CCAEJ received a $1 million grant from California Air Resources Board to install these filters which reduce pollution by more than 90%.  They have been successfully working for the last three years.  As part of the grant CCAEJ provided the replacement filters over the three year contract.  That contract will be expiring next year and the district will need to take over that expense.  There had been talk at the staff level about finding “cheaper” filters as replacement for the IQAir filters currently in use.  CCAEJ explained last night that the IQAir filters have been tested against every other brand by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and that the reason IQAir had been selected was their superior performance at removing particulate pollution.  UCR’s CE-CERT conducted testing of the filters in each San Bernardino School and documented their effectiveness.  We were pleased to hear that none of the Board members felt the need for any change.    IQAir even offered to provide a discount to the school district due to the health impacts documented by the health study.

We are proud of our School Board members and their willingness to step forward and protect the children and staff  of the school  district. 
We are equally proud of our Community Action Team members that have pushed these issues for so long.  Your voice is being heard – your concerns are noted – and we’re winning solutions that will make our neighborhood safer and healthier for all.  Si se puede!

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PO Box 33124, Jurupa Valley, CA 92519

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