Environmental Justice - The Relocation of the BFI Recycling Plant


On the occasion of the start of structural demolition of the Holly Street Power Plant, here is a May 1997 archival documentary produced by Rene Renteria & PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources)  about grassroots organizing to relocate the BFI Recycling Plant located in East Austin.  Like the Holly Street Power Plant, the recycling center was another concurrent example of “environmental racism” in  East Austin.

Production credits also include: Lisa Sánchez González (narration/script) & Maria Loya (interviewer/translation)

Read more here.

For over 20 years, East Austin residents and various community organizations called for the removal of the plant due to public health and safety concerns related to air pollution, extreme noise levels, rodent/roach infestations and fires.  The industrial facility was situated in close proximity to homes, parks, schools and churches.

Many regarded the power plant as an example of 'environmental racism' and as a symbol of a toxic legacy clearly linked to the City of Austin 1928 Master Plan which institutionalized discriminatory public policies in working-class and people of color communities. Such industrial zoning practices and land use patterns were common in cities across the nation during the Jim Crow era.

This video was created for educational purposes and was used at community meetings, workshops and in general helped introduce the issue to various audiences. The piece features first-hand accounts from nearby residents of their complaints about the plant.

The landfill received recyclables from more than 350,000 households; much of the refuse remained outdoors exposed to the sun where blowing winds would scatter the litter into neighborhood homes resulting in the infestation of rats. In addition, the center's glass crushing operation would continue into the late hours keeping residential neighbors awake late into the night. PODER, mobilized to ensure that the landfill was moved to a non-residential area so as not to inflict the same problems on other low-income people.

site map:  http://wikimapia.org/#lat=30.261523&lon=-97.6952845&z=18&l=0&m=b&v=8
The video also highlights the issue of industrial zoning in residential areas and the topic 'environmental racism' in Austin.

More info:
People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources

Susana Almanza: The Life of an Activist

East Austin Environmental Justice History

Activism in the Tradition of Cesar Chavez

Shutting Down Holly Street Power Plant




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