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E-M:/ EJ Tour hits Detroit Tuesday


Monday, Sept. 25 2006



Donele Wilkins

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice:

 313-833-3935; 313-478-2398






Environmental Justice Tour Hits Detroit Tuesday


Press conference, trip through city coincides with national events aimed at calling attention to toxic plight of inner city residents



Environmental justice advocates, social justice leaders, human rights advocates and Detroit residents who are “gasping” for relief from smog-choked neighborhoods will conduct the “ Detroit Environmental Justice 4 all Tour” on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

It starts at 10 a.m. at Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, 4750 Woodward Ave. , room 406 of the Hannan House in Detroit. A press conference will take place at
10:30 a.m. in front of Southwestern High School
, at Waterman and Fort streets, Speakers include Donele Wilkins and Rhonda Anderson. All press, local, state and national elected officials are invited to join the tour, which ends at noon.

Nationally, environmental justice advocates are conducting a national tour of low-income communities and communities of color, calling on Congress to address environmental protection and stop environmental racism. The Detroit tour is a spin-off of the National tour aimed at demonstrating the need for environmental justice protections here in the state of Michigan. The tour will cover the east and west sides of Detroit.

Why the need for justice? One in 5 children in Detroit has asthma. A 2002 state report showed “asthma hospitalizations for children are three times the statewide average.”
Asthma accounts for over 14 million missed school days or educational opportunities annually (School and Governance report 2003). African American children are four times more likely to die from an asthma attack. One in 10 women of child-bearing age in
Michigan has unsafe levels of mercury in their blood, attributed to eating tuna and fish from Great Lakes. Many Detroit communities rely on tuna and fish from the Detroit River for subsistence.

More reasons? Among Detroit children tested for lead, over 18,000 had unsafe lead levels in their blood.
There are over 40,000 Brownfield parcels (contaminated land) across the city. Over 40,000 citizens in Metro Detroit are without water in the heart of a Great Lakes system that has almost 20% of the world’s fresh surface water. In Southwest Detroit, communities and schools are surrounded by Marathon Oil Refinery, the Detroit Waste Water treatment plant, I-75 (carrying more than 40,000 diesel trucks daily), a DTE Power coal-fire power plant, Detroit Salt, etc. etc. How much more can our children endure?

Additionally a proposed twin of the Ambassador Bridge threatens to bring more diesel smog and congestion to the state's poorest neighborhoods.

“A bridge by any name still stinks the same” Rhonda Anderson, Sierra Club EJ organizer. “With rate of asthma, particularly in Southwest Detroit, to add another major polluting source is an insult to the people!”

Roshani Dantas, Michigan Environmental Council, said: “Imagine a 2 year old child suffering from an asthma attack, being lead poisoned in her home, eating spoiled food from local grocery stores and exposed to mercury pre-natally. Science can’t keep up with complex studies of these exposures to children!”

Donele Wilkins, Exec Director of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice had this to say “"We are citizens concerned about quality of life issues that continue to diminish because decisions are made without consideration for the health and environmental quality of our city. Environmental justice cannot be ignored when people who live in places like Detroit suffer a disproportional burden of pollution. Belle Isle Beach is ignored for monitoring because resources are not there to do it. Children in Detroit suffer the most from lead poisoning because of facilities like the abandoned Master Metals Lead smelter on Detroit's northeast side. The State of Michigan needs a policy that addresses the environmental problems that our city must struggle with.”

Co-sponsors: Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and Campaign for State
Action for Environmental Justice.





Hugh McDiarmid Jr.

Communications Director

Michigan Environmental Council

119 Pere Marquette

Lansing, MI  48912