Port Arthur, Texas–Normally, Debris Management Sites (DMS) are planned in areas where they will cause the least harm to the health and safety of those living in the area. Lone Star Legal Aid’s Environmental Justice Unit is raising community concerns with the City of Port Arthur’s decision to locate a “temporary” storm DMS near a low-income minority neighborhood. Why this neighborhood?

The EPA requires that all DMS be located in areas away from heavy traffic, they cannot disrupt local business, and they cannot cause harm to schools or neighborhoods. When a DMS is located in a heavy traffic area, disrupting local businesses, or causing harm to schools or neighborhoods who’s populations happen to be predominantly of low-income or minorities, it is not only more egregious, it violates an executive order. “Executive Order 12898 (1994) requires federal agencies (or any local government or governmental agency in receipt of federal funding from a source such as FEMA) to evaluate its actions for disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority or low-income populations and to find ways to avoid or minimize these adverse impacts where possible.”

The local authorities informed the community that this DMS would be temporary, but it has been operating for over a month now. LSLA EJ attorney Amy Dinn says, “The community is concerned about the short-term and long-term health and environmental impacts on the residential neighborhood immediately adjacent to the site.” Amy has begun correspondence with the mayor of Port Arthur regarding the many issues this DMS faces. Has the City of Port Arthur complied with all TECQ and EPA rules, regulations, and guidelines?

LSLA attorneys have demanded that the City of Port Arthur close the DMS as soon as possible to avoid any further possibility of harm to the neighboring residential area. Residents recall that during the area’s last memorable storms, Ike and Rita, other locations were used as DMS; locations that would be an improvement to the current one. There are over 170 temporary DMS as a result of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, many of which are in LSLA’s service area. Harvey affected area residents who are concerned about something like this popping up in their neighborhood can call Lone Star Legal Aid to apply for legal assistance.  

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and also 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, such as those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.
Media Contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org

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