No Toxic Tar Sands in LA So-Bay
Nurses & residents get commitment for full investigation into dangers & public meetings before tar sands can be processed by Valero Oil
January 9, 2014 - San Pedro. CNA RNs from 5 LA Southbay hospitals closest to the major oil refineries attended a special meeting arranged for CNA and neigborhood groups who oppose “tar sands” crude being processed in Wilmington’s Valero refinery.
Tar Sands crude is a thick, dirty crude high in sulphur and much more toxic than regular crude. It has been condemned by leading environmental scientists as ‘extremely dangerous’ and the ‘beginning of the end’ where pollution will tip global warming until the point of no return.
Valero applied to process 60,000 barrels per day brought in by railroad into Wilmington in May 2013. The SoCal Air Quality Management District (AQMD) at first quickly processed the application despite concerns raised by environmental groups and did not investigate the dangers as they stated they would on May 3, 2013.
However, on Nov. 1, 2013, CNA RNs from major SoBay hospitals and together with Communities for a Better Environment, Climate Change.350 and the Sierra Club, demanded that the AQMD not process the application until a full investigation and many public meetings were held to disclose the results. In the meantime, Valero’s embarassing oil tank-car derailment at it’s Benicia, CA refinery and the conclusions of investigations into the Chevron Richmond explosion disaster (sulphur corroded pipes caused the explosion) which sent 15,000 patients into local hospitals, have slowed down Valero’s big rush to push through tar sands.
The AQMD and Councilman Joe Buscaino committed to “keep in touch” with CNA and friends regarding the investigations and agreed to hold public meetings when any substantive updates arise.
Although, nurses believed this meeting was a “definite” advance, there are other oil companies trying to bring in tar sands in different ways such as Phillips 66, so the temporary slowing down of one companys effort does not mean people can rest. Plans are being discussed to continue to hold off tar sands for our patients and our communities.
“As nurses, prevention (of illnesses) is very important. I feel satisfied that the AQMD did commit to no tar sands for Valero until full investigations into its dangers is completed.”
- Heather Albright, RN
Little Company of Mary- Torrance
(left) Mario Pimentel, United Steelworkers- Healthcare Div. President from Long Bch. Mem. Medical Ctr. joined nurses in questioning the AQMD leaders.
“Respiratory illneses are now the #1 diagnosis in my ICU. Now, it is year round and patients who are in their 40s and 50s are common, not just the elderly.”
- Lora Smith, RN
Little Company of Mary- San Pedro
Local residents from Wilmington & San Pedro, who in some cases are patients of local hospitals attended with CBE and the nurse representatives.
• Double the national average- Asthma rates suffered by children in port-adjacent neighborhoods.
• 4,000 longtime residents around San Pedro Bay die prematurely each year from pollution related illnesses.
• 19% of Long Beach residents have no health insurance. Percentages increase greatly closer to the port.
• Between $4.7 & $5.9 billion over the next 20 yrs. Estimated cost of pollution related hospital visits in SoCal port communities.
(source: LB Press Telegram 11/03/09, “Children closest to harbor trade roadways suffer more respiratory issues, study says”)