Children Playing Near the Valero Refinery In Houston

We can’t make this up, folks. Here’s a picture from the community BBQ event we hosted yesterday with T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service) in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, TX.

Children play on a bounce house while in the background, chemical byproducts of the oil refining process are flared off from a Valero-operated refinery, emitting flames, pollution, and cancer-causing substances into the surrounding community.

Manchester is located on the Houston Ship Channel, nicknamed the “Petro-Metro” for its location at the epicenter of the country’s oil refining and petrochemical industries. This neighborhood, comprising mostly low-income immigrant families, has been under siege by refining giant Valero and its ilk for decades.

A University of Texas School of Public Health study in 2005 found the air in the Manchester area dangerous to breathe — with concentrations of chemicals linked to cancer, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health effects sometimes as much as 20 times higher than federal guidelines used for toxic waste dumps.

Valero also happens to be one of the biggest investors in Keystone XL. It’s told its investors that it plans to exploit the port’s Foreign Trade Zones, where oil will be exported to the international market without paying U.S. taxes. TransCanada and Valero CEOs pad their pockets while the local community is left with the all the pollution.

From start to finish, we are here to stand in solidarity with Manchester residents saying, “Ya Basta!”: Enough is enough of corporate criminals like Valero putting its bottomline ahead of their human right to clean air and their children’s health.

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