Community Empowerment, Community Change

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition was thrilled to be honored at the 2015 Tribute to Change celebration on October 1, 2015, receiving a Community Empowerment award from Bread and Roses Community Fund. This year’s “Environmental Justice” theme recognizes individuals and organizations who challenge environmental, economic and racial disparities, and make changes happen.

TributeToChange2015 Dinner

EFNC was delighted to be recognized for 3 years of work in a community impacted by a host of environmental justice issues – chronic flooding, a national priority superfund site, short dumping, pollution from nearby refineries, the airport and mega highways. It wasn’t so long ago that the Eastwick neighborhood of SW Philadelphia, bordered by the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and home to a tight-knit community, was known as “the meadows.” The 1950’s broght about one of the largest urban renewal plans in the country, which displaced 10,000 people and resulted in the construction of flood-prone homes on former wetlands. In 2012, Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) formed in response to a development proposal put forth by the Korman Company for a high-density buildling project on 35 acres of a 128-acre contiguous parcel of green space adjacent to Heinz Refuge.  EFNC mobilized to convene public meetings, rallied attendance to city hearings, met with elected officials and city agencies, and succeeded in halting the project.

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EFNC is deeply humbled and inspired by fellow honorees… people like Iris Brown and Tomasita Romero who received the Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award for their tireless dedication in transforming vacant lots in a crime-ridden neighborhood into culturally vibrant community gardens that are now part of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project. “What we did in our community, it was out of necessity,” said Iris.

We are especially proud and grateful for the work of Amy Laura Cahn, recipient of the “Trailblazer Award” – given to an outstanding leader in community organizing who has helped pave the way for others. Amy Laura, a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, has been involved with EFNC since the beginning. She has helped articulate our goals, connect us with appropriate decision-makers, guide next steps, and balance our passions. Amy Laura is an incredible ally, and wonderful friend.

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Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition extends our thanks and appreciation to everyone at Bread and Roses Community Fund who planned, organized and directed the 2015 Tribute to Change, as well as event sponsors and attendees who created a wonderfully special evening.

TributeToChange2015 Dinner-EFNC photo edit

And many thanks to all Eastwick residents, stakeholders, friends and supporters. By working together, we create real change and make a difference in our community!

EPA Announces Clearview Landfill Cleanup Plan; Public Meeting October 23

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with concurrence from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, has selected the cleanup plan to address contaminated waste and soils associated with the Clearview Landfill portion of the Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site, also known as Operable Unit 1 (OU1).  The Clearview Landfill spans ~60 acres in southwest Philadelphia, situated alongside the Darby Creek and yards from a residential neighborhood in Eastwick.

In summary, the EPA selected an Evapotranspiration (ET) Cover as the cleanup plan for Clearview Landfill OU1 site. An ET cover is a thick layer of soil with a dense stand of trees and vegetation planted on its surface. The soil and tree cover naturally absorbs precipitation and holds it until the water can evaporate or be used by the trees and vegetation. The roots of the trees and vegetation also prevent erosion of the landfill cover.

Additional parts of the plan include: excavating contaminated soils outside the ET cover; long-term erosion controls along creek banks; permanent relocation of businesses from the landfill; collecting and treating the leachate using a sub-surface trench along the creeks and engineered wetlands; long-term maintenance and monitoring of the remedy; legal controls to protect the remedy and the public.

The selected cleanup plan is documented in the Record of Decision (ROD). The EPA will work with the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) to design the cleanup plan, which could take 12-36 months.

The EPA advocates meaningful, active community participation during the Superfund cleanup. Josh Barber, EPA Remedial Project Manager, and Larry Brown, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, meet with community organizations and residents most affected by cleanup activities. They seek ongoing input from the Eastwick community, and offered technical assistance resources to enhance two-way communication.

The Clearview Landfill full ROD and other documents are available to read on the internet, on the US EPA website for the Lower Darby Creek Area. Note that the full ROD is 326 pages long, 41MB, requiring ample computer space and time to download. EFNC recommends reading at minimum (1) the 4-page Fact Sheet, and (2) the 19-page ROD sections 11-13, which details Selected Remedy, Statuatory Determinations, and diagram of the site.
(1) – Clearview Landfill ROD Fact Sheet (4 pages, PDF, Sept 2014)
(2) – Clearview Landfill ROD – Sections 11-13 with site diagram (19 pages, PDF, Sept 2014)
(3) – Clearview Landfill full ROD (326 pages, PDF, Sept 2014)

The EPA is holding a legally-required public meeting to present details of the Record of Decision and cleanup plan for the Clearview Landfill.  Meeting details:
Thursday, October 23, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Eastwick Community Recreation Center
80th Street and Mars Place
Philadelphia, PA  19153

EPA Contact Info:
Josh Barber – EPA Remedial Project Manager – (215) 814-3393, barber.joshua@epa.gov
Larry Brown – EPA Community Involvement Coordinator – (215) 814-5527 or (800) 553-2509, brown.larry@epa.gov

The Eastwick community has endured a host of environmental justice issues for decades, including ill-planned urban renewal; chronic and widespread flooding; toxic emissions from nearby airport, oil refineries and mega-highway; and two superfund landfill sites that operated without permit from the 1950’s through the 1970’s and afterwards.  Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) is committed to planning for an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future for Eastwick. EFNC strives to engage and inform residents and stakeholders about community issues, and work alongside partners and supporters for a bright future.

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EFNC urges everyone to attend the EPA’s Clearview Landfill meeting on October 23. We also urge you to sign up to receive informational emails from the EPA, as they proceed with next steps in Clearview Landfill.  Sign up to receive EPA emails on their website. Simply enter your email address (name is optional) in the “Mailing List” box in the lower right corner. This is a good way for the EPA to communicate information, and you may unsubscribe from their emails at any time. EPA Community Involvement information – click here.

Eastwick Engagement throughout September

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) has been busy throughout September, engaging in multiple community outreach initiatives to connect with hundreds of people.

On September 18, EFNC hosted a Public Community Meeting at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge that attracted more than 80 attendees.  People came out to learn and ask questions about community environmental health issues, especially related to Clearview Landfill clean-up.  Speakers included Dr. Marilyn Howarth (Director of Community Outreach and Engagement Core, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, University of Pennsylvania), Josh Barber (Remedial Project Manager Region 3, EPA), and Derron LaBrake (Ecological Consultant, Darby Creek Valley Association).  EFNC President Terry Williams introduced new Heinz Refuge Manager Lamar Gore, who expressed eagerness to work closely with Eastwick residents and stakeholders in his new capacity at the Refuge.  PILCOP lawyer Amy Laura Cahn moderated an insightful Q&A session, followed by light refreshments.

EFNC Public Meeting Heinz 2014-0918 -Debbie Beer 02

A few days later, on Saturday, September 20, EFNC staffed an exhibit table at the annual “Cradle of Birding & Conservation Festival” at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. We distributed myriad informational brochures and connected with hundreds of festival visitors interested in Eastwick community issues.

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EFNC outreach efforts expanded to New York City on September 21, when EFNC organized a busload of community residents and supporters to participate in the historic “March on Climate Change.” EFNC President and bus captain Terry Williams rallied and entertained nearly 50 people who departed early that morning from the Penrose Plaza in Southwest Philadelphia.  EFNC’s bus was one of 60 that transported thousands of marchers from Philadelphia to raise their voices in peaceful unity, demanding responsible action from our leaders on global warming.

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition is one of nearly 1,000 organizations nation-wide that officially endorsed the People’s Climate March, with this statement:  “The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) fully endorses the Peoples Climate March—anticipated to be the largest march on climate change in history. We are committed to working with our allies to amplify the call for world leaders to take bold action to address climate change and move toward creating a more sustainable global environment and economy that works for everyone. As part of EFNC’s continued environmental justice community education and engagement efforts, we look forward to organizing Eastwick community members and stakeholders to participate in the Peoples Climate March on September 21, 2014.

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EFNC appreciates the support and encouragement of the Sierra Club local chapter in this initiative, recognizing that climate change is a social justice issue, as well as an environmental one.  Anne Lovatt, chair of the Sierra Club’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Group, states, “According to the EPA, not only is Pennsylvania the third largest producer of carbon emissions in the U.S., but Philadelphians suffer some of the highest asthma rates in the country as a result of air pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels. Key areas in the region such as the airport and the nearby Eastwick community will also be on the front line of severe impacts from rising sea levels.”

Joanne Graham, EFNC Treasurer and Environmental Justice Committee Chairperson, was quoted in a Philly.com news article about the Climate March, explaining her interest in environmental issues stems from local community challenges.  Ramona Rousseau-Reid, EFNC Vice President, described the experience as historic, powerful and life-changing.

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EPA Remediation Plans for Clearview Landfill; public meeting August 15, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Proposed Remedial Action Plan for the Clearview Landfill, of the Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site.  Known as “OU1-PRAP”, the document details EPA’s preferred cleanup plan for the Clearview Landfill, located in Eastwick, southwest Philadelphia.

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A summary of the PRAP plan for Clearview can be downloaded here (4-page, PDF document).

The complete PRAP plan for Clearview can be downloaded from the EPA website (80 pages, 11 MB).  Click here.

Public participation in the process is encouraged and essential.  Eastwick residents and stakeholders are urged to submit comments and attend a public meeting hosted by the EPA on August 15, 2013.

EPA Public Meeting on Proposed Cleanup Plan
Thursday, August 15, 2013 – 6:30 P.M.
Eastwick Wellness Center
2821 Island Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19153

Submit comments to:

U.S. EPA (3HS21)
Attention: Joshua Barber
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Email to:  barber.joshua@epa.gov

Comments must be postmarked or emailed by September 30, 2013

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