Puerto Ricans fight coal ash poison

U.S. colonial government okays dumping waste

Puerto Rico’s environmental and health movement mobilized to stop legislation proposed by the U.S. colonial government that would eliminate restrictions on poisonous coal ash and profit the U.S. corporation AES. This clearly shows how the Puerto Rican government responds directly to U.S. interests and not to its people. It is no coincidence that this happens as the U.S.’s Environmental Protection Agency lowers the standards to benefit toxic corporations.

Alerted by militant activists in the municipality of Peñuelas, www.primerahola.com reported, “Ricardo Roselló [the current governor of Puerto Rico], through the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, is preparing to allow the indiscriminate use of these wastes through the statute ‘Standards for the Beneficial Use of Coal Combustion Residues,’ which will be discussed this Thursday, Nov. 29 in public hearings,“ in Río Piedras.

On Dec. 12, demonstrators picketed the hearing in the capital of San Juan. Jimmy Borrero denounced the proposal from the audience. Borrero testified by video about the Peñuelas struggle at the International Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico held in New York City on Oct. 27, 2018.

On Dec. 20, Centro Periodismo Investigativo reports: “While in the Dominican Republic there is a debate over the number of people who must be compensated after breathing and swallowing — for years — AES coal ashes at Arroyo Barril, in Puerto Rico the government is presenting a regulation that perpetuates the toxic waste on the island.”

As was shown at the International Tribunal in New York, turning Caribbean islands into toxic dumps for U.S. corporations has met strong resistance. The Peñuelas activists stopped the dumping there and are determined to stop this new move to make it legal. Cancer, birth defects, and toxicity that poisons the soil, water and plants with heavy metals are well proven and not denied.

These facts are well known in Puerto Rico, but AES environmental racism is ignored by the U.S. media.

The AES website boasts: “The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) is a Fortune 500 global power company. We provide affordable, sustainable energy to 15 countries through our diverse portfolio of distribution businesses as well as thermal and renewable generation facilities. Our workforce is committed to operational excellence and meeting the world’s changing power needs. Our 2017 revenues were $11 billion and we own and manage $33 billion in total assets.” Its headquarters is in Arlington, Va. The company’s official slogan is “The Power of Being Global.”

The deadly falsehood of so-called clean coal is, for workers, gruesomely demonstrated in the Arroyo Barril report by Centro Periodismo Investigativo cited above. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have ample sunshine and wind to generate power. Coal plants only benefit the corporate bottom line.