Kids Help Monitor Newark's Dirty Diesel Near Their School

December 29, 2008

Healthy Ports demonstrationIn December member groups of the Coalition for Healthy Ports (CHPs, which NJEF chairs) and dozens of environmentalists, community activists, port drivers, and students conducted a truck count at various locations in the East and South Wards of Newark where port trucks first hit the local streets.

The Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) did a great job organizing truck counting in front of the Hawkins Street School and other neighborhood locations in Newark. Additional truck counting was conducted in the South Ward by the graduates of NJEF's Newark-based Urban Environmental Institute.

"Every week, thousands of trucks pass through the Ironbound going to and from the port, spewing toxic diesel emissions, which we know are a major cause of asthma," said Cynthia Mellon, community organizer for ICC and Ironbound resident. "We now have the numbers to prove it. Until the Port becomes a better neighbor, we will continue to see high levels of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in our neighborhoods."

The intention of the "port truck count" was to raise public awareness about the dangerous effects of pollution from the goods movement in local port communities, amongst the drivers, and their families, many of them low-income and without health insurance.

CHP has already drafted its own Clean Air Action Plan and plans to press the Port Authority of NY/NJ to adopt it. The Coalition is also pushing officials here to adopt a comprehensive clean-air plan modeled after a landmark Port of Los Angeles policy. The LA "Clean Trucks Program" has been lauded by economists and environmentalists alike, as the October 2008 green-growth initiative will reduce emissions from port trucking by 80 percent, deliver over $5 billion to the regional economy, and drastically reduce security risks through key enforcement provisions that require the industry to take responsibility for clean vehicles and its workforce.

New Jerseyans now face the nation's second greatest cancer risk from diesel soot in the nation. According to UMDNJ, treatment for asthma alone accounts for 12 percent of New Jersey's managed care costs. Newark's school children experience a 25 percent asthma rate, double the state and national rates. The city's residents are hospitalized and experience premature deaths at twice the rate of Essex County Suburbs.

"This is an environmental injustice", remarked Amy Goldsmith, State Director of NJEF. "The Port Authority can bury their heads in the sand and remain one of the region's dirtiest problems or be an East Coast leader when it comes to move freight with good jobs and clean air."

Newark Councilman Oscar James has echoed the Coalition's call for a bold solution: "Anyone who works along or lives near these transportation corridors pays a price with their lungs and livelihoods, and its time for port and public officials to pay attention," said James.


In this issue of the New Jersey Environmental Federation Sustainer Letter

A New Year Confronts Old Problems in New Jersey and the Nation

Who would have thought this time last year that Barack Obama would be President and our nation would be facing its worst economic crisis since the Depression?

A Safe Energy Future

The ongoing battle to stop the relicensing of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township is entering its third year. The NJEF led coalition of environmental and citizen's groups called STROC is making headway in the courts and in Washington, D.C. Oyster Creek is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the nation, with the worst environmental and safety record.

NJEF Victories in 2008!

NJEF would like to thank all of our members for helping make 2008 a successful year. While we certainly have to make monumental leaps and bounds to protect clean water, clean up our air, and strengthen our economy in 2009, we'd like to take a moment to recognize the great achievements we made this past year. We could not have done it without the continued support of members like you.

Kids Help Monitor Newark's Dirty Diesel Near Their School

In December member groups of the Coalition for Healthy Ports (CHPs, which NJEF chairs) and dozens of environmentalists, community activists, port drivers, and students conducted a truck count at various locations in the East and South Wards of Newark where port trucks first hit the local streets.

PDF iconDownload the full issue of the New Jersey Environmental Federation Sustainer Letter (pdf, 655 kb)

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