Washington State Prison Contaminated with Dangerous Chemicals
The Washington State Department of Ecology recently required the Washington State Dept of Corrections to conduct an investigation at Washington State Penitentiary to determine the type and location of contaminants present, and evaluate cleanup options.
They found hazardous waste (lead, gasoline) in the soil and well water system here at the prison. This water is used for drinking, showering, cooking, etc.
On 9 December 2012, local news ran the story regarding toxic waste in the water here at the prison. Two days later, coincidentally, prison staff were handing out printouts regarding the "toxics cleanup program." Are they trying to lead us to believe that they had no prior knowledge of this potentially dangerous problem prior to a couple days ago?
Chemicals (TCE and PCE) were identified in ground water outside the exterior prison fences. Some of these chemicals were used in furniture refinishing and repair, license plate manufacturing, dry cleaning, motor pool maintenance, metal working and welding, photo processing, sign manufacturing, and medical and dental labs.
The report given to prisoners claims that the levels of PCE and TCE in certain groundwater monitoring wells no longer pose a health concern to humans or the environment. However, they do admit that "gasoline and lead in soil exceed state standards at certain locations."
This is something that needs to be looked at by an independent scientist/law firm, so we prisoners know that we have chances of living a healthy life, in and out of prison.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As a prisoner discussed in the article "Environment and Prisons" in Under Lock & Key 7: "The main thing that I learned from this MT 12 was of the overwhelming toxic dump sites in and around oppressed nations areas. . .Yet we hardly hear a murmur from the media when toxic dumps spring up in areas where the oppressed nations swell. Third World countries have become the imperialist dump site. I watched a news program around a month ago about how petty bourgeois here in the U.S. were setting up these scam 'recycle' centers for computers and 'e-trash.' These 'recycle' centers would turn around and ship off this toxic junk to Third World nations and turn a profit, even though there's supposed laws prohibiting this toxic dumping (for Petty Bourgeois and small time entrepreneurs) it is still continued with a nod and a wink. The bourgeois, big business, transnational corporations etc. are a whole different story. They continue to dump toxins on the Third World nations with only encouragement from imperialist economists."
We should not be surprised when toxic waste is found in or around prisons as well. In fact, we have published reports of similar incidents in Connally Unit in Texas and Kern Valley State Prison in California. Those suffering under similar conditions must continue to expose these incidents, and campaign for basic safety for the imprisoned. We then need to take this one step further, as the contributor quoted above does, and put it in the context of imperialist environmental destruction and national oppression so that contaminants aren't just pushed into someone else's backyard.