Table of Contents:   
1) Sandy & NYC-EJA's work
2) Post Sandy Regional Environmental Justice Summit 12.1.12
3) NYC-EJA In The News
4) Season's Greetings & Year-End Appeal
December 2012 - Volume 3, Issue 5
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Sandy storm surge in Red Hook
Sandy and NYC-EJA's work
In 2010, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) launched the Waterfront Justice Project, NYC's only citywide community resiliency campaign. Over 2 years ago, NYC-EJA's research uncovered that NYC-designated communities called Significant Maritime & Industrial Areas (SMIA's) - where the concentration of heavy industrial uses and polluting infrastructure is officially sanctioned by City government policies - were all located in storm surge zones.  The photo above depicts the Sandy storm surge flooding through Red Hook's iconic Civil War-era Beard Street Warehouse (which is fully occupied by industrial tenants) on the afternoon of 10/29 - hours before the worst of Sandy hit. The six SMIA communities - the South Bronx, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Staten Island's North Shore - are all in classic "environmental justice" communities, i.e. - largely low income communities of color beset with disproportionate environmental burdens and health disparities (see SMIA map below).
NYC-EJA map of SMIA's & storm surge zones
The clustering of our City's most toxic and heavy chemical uses right in the path of storm surges represents a clear, present and ongoing danger to our communities.  (In fact, NYC-EJA member UPROSE has been organizing around the storm surge-vulnerability of its industrial waterfront in Sunset Park - NYC's largest SMIA - since 2009.)   To date, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and New York Community Trust, NYC-EJA has produced over 100 GIS maps and data-sets, broadly analyzing toxic risk exposures presented by the storm-surge vulnerabilities of the SMIAs - as well as best management practices to increase climate adaptation & community resiliency efforts. Most of our research has been shared with a variety of government agencies, including the NYC Department of City Planning, which is in the midst of updating the NYC Waterfront Revitalization Program - NYC's coastal sone management plan.


Following Sandy - in addition to our relief and recovery efforts - NYC-EJA and our members urged EPA to test some local residential basements in the SMIA's.  We also presented our research again (see photos below)

Sandy EPA testing pic
EPA water-tests at NYC-EJA's request
NYC-EJA presents research to EPA.

For over 2 years, NYC-EJA, our members and our allies have tirelessly championed the need for government - at all levels - to partner with local environmental justice organizations, industrial businesses and manufacturers on pilot programs.  As envisioned by the Waterfront Justice Project, the pilots would expand on, identify and share: 
  • NYC-EJA's toxic risk exposure research with local SMIA stakeholders;
  • NYC-EJA's Best Management practices - specifically designed to increase climate adaptation and community resilience strategies among waterfront industrial businesses - to protect the workers and local residents; and
  • Technical and financial assistance from the public and private sectors to help local businesses adopt/implement these best management practices and increase their climate adaptability and resilience - again, to protect workers and local residents.
NYC-EJA and some of our members, such as  UPROSE, The Point CDC
El Puente Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice, have had local climate justice workshops and forums to expand community support for our citywide community resiliency campaign (see photos below).
Sandy @ The Point forum
NYC-EJA presents at The Point (Hunts Point).
Sandy @ El Puente forum
NYC-EJA presents at El Puente (Williamsburg).

We issued NYC-EJA's Hurricane Sandy press statement as Sandy bore down; however, it was not the first time. As the Huffington Post reported (see "In The News" section below), we also issued a similar warning in 2011 before Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene (see NYC-EJA's Hurricane Irene press statement )

However, we are still waiting for commitments from our government partners. NYC-EJA calls on the Mayor's Office, EPA and NYS DEC to partner with our members and local businesses in industrial working waterfront communities to identify and reduce toxic risk exposures - before someone is hurt....
Post Sandy Regional Environmental Justice Summit 12.1.12
Post Sandy Regional EJ Summit flyer

On December 1st, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, our members and allies  convened the Post Sandy Regional Environmental Justice Summit at SEIU 32BJ.  Community leaders from the most impacted and vulnerable communities across the region - from Newark to the Lower East Side to Far Rockaway, with Sunset Park, the South Bronx, Williamsburg and others in between - gathered to share their stories of tragedy, courage and resilience.  This powerful gathering was the first opportunity for some to even leave their devastated neighborhoods to exchange experiences with other similarly situated areas (see photo below).  Participants expressed a desire to work together to identify common ground and strive for unity of purpose as New York and New Jersey - and Washington - officials begin to deliberate the fate of the region's recovery in the aftermath of Sandy.


Summit attendee's shared a Post Sandy White House letter sent be several of the participants to President Obama urging community and environmental support via the National Disaster Recovery Framework.  The President's Executive Order on Sandy, (issued after our letter) was also shared, with optimism that the Executive Order did include community consultation.  Sandy Rebuilding Principles were distributed to Summit participants, which will ultimately be forwarded to government officials driving Sandy Recovery efforts. Sign-ons are ongoing - to sign your organization on, please email [email protected].


Planning for a broader Sandy Regional Environmental Justice Assembly on January 26th has begun.  Stay tuned!

Post Sandy Regional EJ Summit - 12.1.12
Post Sandy Regional EJ Summit attendee's.

NYC-EJA In the News
Sandy, Climate Adaptation and Community Resiliency for EJ Communities; "Waste-to-Energy" Incinerators; Trashed opens at Quad

New York Faces Rising Seas and Slow City Action - NY Times -
this front page NY Times story appeared in the National section, and it reports on NYC's climate adaptation planning efforts - over a month before Sandy hit.  NYC-EJA is quoted about the slow pace addressing the clusters of heavy industrial and polluting infrastructure in environmental justice waterfront communities - and the looming vulnerability of these communities to storm surges and other severe weather events.

Huffington Post - Hurricane Sandy: Toxic Pollution, Low-Income Families In Direct Path Of Storm Surges - this HuffPo piece reports on NYC-EJA's years-long campaign calling attention to storm-surge vulnerable EJ industrial waterfront communities.
NY Times: As Floods Recede, Superfund Neighborhoods Fear Contamination - following Sandy, the NY Times reported further on potential risk exposures along industrial waterfronts.
PBS Newshour: Industrial Residue From Receding Sandy Flood Waters Raise Concerns for Residents - PBS interviews Congresswoman Velazquez, Red Hook business-owners and Newtown Creek residents (where testing occurred due to NYC-EJA's prodding) about possible toxic industrial risk exposures due to Sandy.
Huffington Post: Now Will Obama Break His Climate Silence?
NRDC Blog (Al Huang): Hurricane Sandy's Disproportionate Impact on NYC's Most Vulnerable Communities
City Limits (B'klyn Bureau): Why the City's Flood Maps Got It Wrong  

"Waste-to-Energy" Incinerators:
City Limits: Fiscal Woes, Long-Held Fears Spur Waste-to-Energy Debate - NYC-EJA and our allies continue to monitor the City's ill-conceived flirtation with "waste-to-energy" incineration - a flirtation made all the more dangerous due to storm surge vulnerabilities of the likeliest sites

Solid Waste and Fair Share:
Trashed (2012 - starring Jeremy irons) - this stirring documentary has finally been released publicly.  Head down to the Quad in Manhattan - support must be shown for this critical film.
Sandy YMPJ forum
NYC-EJA presents @ Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice (Soundview).
NYC-EJA presents at Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice (Soundview/Bronx River)




Dear Friends:


We wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays, and a safe (and yes, resilient) New Year.  The end of 2012 was among the most devastating in our memories - from Hurricane Sandy to Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  We hope 2013 will be kinder, gentler and restorative for us all.  


We ask your help to sustain our campaigns for environmental justice.  Please support the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) by making a tax-deductible online donation at  NYC-EJA's website

Founded in 1991, NYC-EJA, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, is NYC's only federation of community-based organizations fighting for environmental justice in low income communities of color.  For over 20 years, NYC-EJA has successfully led reform campaigns on climate change, solid waste, power plant siting and brownfield remediation policies.

But we need your help to continue our successes.  Your tax deductible online contribution can be made securely on the Donation page at our website: (don't forget the hyphen!). Your donation will support NYC-EJA's ongoing campaigns, including the new challenges posed by climate change.  You can also mail a check payable to: New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, 166A 22nd Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11232.


Become an EJ Friend - $50.00

Become an EJ Ally - $100.00

Become an EJ Champion - $200.00 (our 200x200 campaign!) 


For more information on NYC-EJA's work (or better yet, to support that work with a tax-deductible donation), please visit our website at  You'll be glad you did!


Hasta la proxima,

Eddie Bautista,

Executive Director