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Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 01:02:34 GMT
Reply-To: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Organization: PACH
Subject: HAITI: UPDATE (Nov.8, 1995)
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>

/** reg.carib: 207.0 **/
** Topic: HAITI: UPDATE (Nov.8, 1995) **
** Written 11:29 AM Nov 9, 1995 by ilophaiti in cdp:reg.carib **

US refuses to remove Philadelphia's toxic ash from Gonaives

The International Liaison Office for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti Update, 8 November 1995

Eight years after 2,000 to 4,500 tons of toxic ash from a Philadelphia municipal incinerator were dumped in Gonaives, the U.S. government still refuses to remove the material from Haiti. Last month, the U.S. army went to Gonaives to investigate the site where the ash is now housed in an open, concrete block depot. Instead of their taking the ash away, as Haitian government officials and environmental activists had expected, the U.S. Army said that it was only studying the possibility of building a new cement home for the waste. The Army further stated that the ash contains no toxic materials.

Leaving the hazardous waste on-site is not an acceptable solution to the people of Gonaives. They have suffered its effects since the cargo ship Khian Sea first unloaded the U.S. garbage on the beach of Gonaives in December 1987. Although Greenpeace and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had already done tests on the ash and concluded that it was highly dangerous, the military government of Gen. Henry Namphy allowed the Khian Sea to unload its cargo. Since that time, the chemicals have killed fish and other marine life, killed goats and other animals which graze on the soil into which toxins have leaked, and adversely affected the health of the 5,000 people living near the site. Local residents are forbidden from using salt drying beds nearby , and can no longer depend on fishing for food or income.

U.S. Agency for International Development has been urging the creation of a landfill in Haiti in which to bury the waste. The new Haitian Minister of Environment, Yves-Marie Wainright, declares this unacceptable. The environmental coalition COHPEDA (Co llectif Haitien pour la Protection de l'Environnement et un Developpement Alternatif) goes further, suggesting that a landfill in Haiti might only attract future shipments of international waste.

Grassroots and national Haitian organizations have worked to get the U.S. government, together with the City of Philadelphia, to reclaim the ash. Forty Haitian organizations published a full-page ad in Le Nouvelliste last March, timed to coincide with P resident Clinton's trip to Haiti. We remember your statements and those of Vice-President Albert Gore expressing your commitment to protect the environment, said the open letter to Clinton. Thus we are asking you to issue an Executive Order directing U.S. military personnel currently present in Haiti... to clean up the dump site and return the ash to its place of origin... We have no doubt that Philadelphia possesses more resources than the Haitian people to manage that city's wastes.

The international organizations working alongside the Haitians on this issue urge that the waste not simply be relocated to a low-income community in the U.S. They call for prevention of future problems by promoting municipal recycling and composting wi thin the U.S., and by enforcement of the Basel Convention, which would forbid exports of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD member states. Thus far the U.S. governnent has blocked ratification of the Convention.

For more information on the campaign to return the hazardous waste to the US, contact Marcelo Furtado at Greenpeace (202-462-1177) or Ehrl LaFontant at Haiti Communications Project (617-542-1013).