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  • ALL ABOARD FOR JUSTICE

All Aboard For Justice helps South Carolinians save money by building trust in the state's public water systems and pledging to refrain from bottled water purchases for household use.


Last year, Chris Hammett of Spartanburg and other South Carolinians around the state joined All Aboard For Justice’s Policing Plastics Campaign by educating themselves about the water quality of their public water supply system and adopting a pledge to only purchase bottled water as a last resort. 


“It was truly a life changing moment when I compared Spartanburg’s public water quality to the quality of some brands of bottled water” says Hammett. “This knowledge is very valuable to me as a parent who is always trying to find ways to better protect my children’s health.” A poll published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported in one particular survey conducted with equal numbers of whites, African American and Latino respondents, concluded that minority parents were more likely to give their children mostly bottled water instead of tap water.


The pledge ended up saving households hundreds of dollars, reducing trips to recycling facilities and landfills, and provided cleaner safer water for all families who participated. All Aboard For Justice has been working in communities across state to provide educational insight on locating and understanding their public drinking water quality reports, explore testing options and cheap filtration alternatives where necessary.


“I am relieved to have a better understanding and stronger trust in the public water system as we begin the New Year,”says Vander Ragin who is also a resident of Spartanburg.





The plastic pollution crisis has made global headlines as we begin to search for permanent solutions. Governments and cities around the world are taking action. Recently, Charleston SC banned all single-use plastics within its city limits. Single-use plastics are the most harmful to the environmental because many cannot be recycled and are used only once.

Bottled water is one of the most popular and frequently used plastic products. More than half of Americans use bottled water, at least occasionally. Most people buy bottled water for its convenience, taste, during an emergency situation, and if they have concerns about the safety of their tap water. The truth is bottled water is not safer and better regulated than our tap water. It is important to read the fine print on bottled water labels to be sure it has purified by a reliable filtration technology such as reverse osmosis. Consumers should also be mindful that even filtration processes like reverse osmosis can produce large amounts of concentrated wastewater. 


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulates bottled water. Monitoring is infrequent and fewer contaminants are measured than public tap water supplies. Some bottled water products are not regulated at all. Much of the bottled water sold in North America is actually drawn from municipal sources (municipal is just fancy word for city tap-water systems) and then packaged with a massive price increase for minor treatment of water that was already safe to drink!


According to the AAA, bottled water can cost almost three times the price of regular-grade gasoline per gallon. The bottled water industry produces over a million tons of plastic waste per year, and only a small fraction of the plastic bottles are recycled! The rest eventually ends up in oceans and landfills, and on beaches. Plastic bottles can stay without breaking down for hundreds of years. Large amounts spent on corporate marketing leads people to believe bottled water is cleaner than tap water. People who consume a lot of bottled water may not realize the importance of supporting funding for maintenance and improvement of our public water systems. In many cases, over pumping by for-profit bottling companies drains the local community’s water reserves.



Xavier Boatright with Chris Hammett and daughter (Harmony)

“We are all guilty of purchasing bottled water at some point, but it is most important for us to educate ourselves on the truths about the quality of bottled water and why it should be used as a last resort or during emergency situations,” says Xavier Boatright, Lead Organizer at All Aboard For Justice.


To learn more about how YOU can save money while helping to protect the environment from plastic pollution contact us here!


#AllAboardForJustice

  • ALL ABOARD FOR JUSTICE

Bamberg County is the home and birthplace to some of South Carolina’s most remarkable people. Jim Harrison, Cleveland Sellers, Bakari Sellers, Drink Small (The Blues Doctor), Woody Binnicker and Ted Potter Jr. are only a few of the folks known for their extraordinary accomplishments from the town of Denmark in Bamberg County.


Recently, the City of Denmark has been making national headlines after an unregulated chemical, typically used to disinfect pools and spas, was revealed in the city’s drinking water supply. In an analysis of census data, environmental group All Aboard For Justice points to how Denmark’s water crisis disproportionately impacts underrepresented and low-income communities. This data could help highlight Denmark’s water crisis as an environmental justice issue.


The City of Denmark has the highest percentage of African-Americans among the state’s cities and towns, followed by Allendale, Estill, Marion and Orangeburg. Denmark has an African-American population of around 86 percent, with a total minority population percentage of 89 percent. Denmark’s minority population percentage is a staggering 55 percent higher than the South Carolina state average of 34 percent.

Nationwide, African-Americans are nearly 80 percent percent more likely to live in neighborhoods where pollution and toxic contamination pose a risk to public health, when compared to Caucasians.


Evaluating income statistics is also an important determining factor for environmental justice. People who live below the poverty line may live in housing with leaks, unsealed windows and compromised water supplies, all of which are factors that can increase residents’ exposure to harmful toxins. Denmark’s low-income population percentage soars around 62 percent, while the state average is 38 percent.


For 10 years, Denmark pumped unregulated doses of HaloSan into one of four public water supply wells in an effort to kill iron bacteria. Denmark’s public water system provides water to more than 3,000 people. Disturbingly, the exact amount of HaloSan injected into the system over the past decade remains unknown.



The Environmental Protection Agency has ultimate authority over the regulated use of disinfectants in drinking water supplies through its pesticide program. HaloSan is not a registered disinfectant with EPA’s pesticide program. City officials say they relied on recommendations from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Meanwhile, DHEC officials say they cannot recall who within the department recommended HaloSan. Bromochlorodimethylhydantoin (or BCDMH), the primary ingredient in HaloSan, is known to irritate people’s skin and eyes when used in drinking water, but there is still much to learn about the long-term health impacts of exposure. The state of North Carolina banned HaloSan in 2006 when the state's environmental regulators sited concerns about the buildup of potentially cancer-causing toxins associated with its use in private wells.


After a year of investigating, and requests for public records, regulators finally ordered Denmark to stop using HaloSan this past summer. The community has expressed concerns of lead and copper contamination in the water supply, and local doctors have found high concentrations of the metals in their patients’ blood. One of the nation’s leading water-quality researchers has compared Denmark’s water-quality issues to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, stating that chemicals like HaloSan should never be injected into drinking water.


“You can’t drink the water and even when doing laundry my white clothes are turned brown,” Moses Washington of Denmark said. “This is indeed an environmental injustice.”


Many people across the state hope lawmakers and DHEC will conduct extensive reviews to ensure that low-income and minority neighborhoods like Denmark get the same environmental protections and considerations as other communities in the state. lthough DHEC has no formal environmental justice policy, the department and state regulators must work harder to ensure environmental justice for Denmark and all communities in our great state.


South Carolinians from the Upstate to the Lowcountry were alarmed to learn that an unregulated chemical was dumped into a public drinking water system without stronger considerations about potential threats to public health. Folks in other cities and towns are concerned if DHEC has approved the use of HaloSan, or similar chemicals, to be used in other water systems around the state.


“Water is our most precious resource and chemicals like HaloSan should be a concern to everyone,” said Jonisha Ragin of Manning. “The people of Denmark drank their water for 10 years without being aware of this toxic chemical and that reality is unacceptable for anyone who lives in our state.”


December 6, The Times and Democrat

Link: https://thetandd.com/opinion/columnist/environmental-injustice/article_0a31228e-0dd2-5267-a497-9e1bc4698bab.html


All Aboard For Justice!



All Aboard For Justice (AAFJ) partnered with Publix, Walmart, members and volunteers to distribute over a dozen free turkeys this week that will provide Thanksgiving meals to families and seniors affected by Hurricane Florence along the South Carolina coast. With this year's turkey donations, AAFJ’s Thanksgiving Outreach program has helped provide holiday meals to more than 75 hurricane victims.


"It is hard to keep up with the financial burden that these storms place on coastal communities each year," said Patsy Graham of Green Sea, SC. "As a well user, I have water quality concerns after the flood waters have receded and I am truly thankful for assistance from the folks at All Aboard For Justice during this Thanksgiving holiday."


Photos (left-right): Green Sea community, Xavier Boatright (middle), Patsy Graham (right)


AAFJ met Patsy and some of her neighbors in Green Sea. Most folks were concerned about the quality of their well water after the major flood events that followed Hurricane Florence and how AAFJ might be able to reach out to other affected folks in the community. In addition to the turkeys, AAFJ also provided NSF certified water filtration systems to some of the impacted folks with water quality in Green Sea.


On Nov. 17 and Nov. 18, Xavier Boatright, Lead Organizer at AAFJ and volunteers gathered to distribute the Thanksgiving turkeys to folks impacted by Hurricane Florence. Impacted communities receiving turkeys were from Conway, Socastee, Green Sea, Lake City, and Manning. The turkeys will help to provide affordable holiday meals to those in need and still recovering after the hurricane.


"Every year, the hurricanes seem to be getting stronger. We recently recovered from damages caused last year by Hurricane Matthew and now Hurricane Florence has placed an even larger burden on our family as we begin to repair our home once again," said Virgiree Murray, of Manning.


Photo: Wilson community, Virgiree Murray (left), Xavier Boatright (right)

AAFJ delivered turkeys to impacted folks near Manning. Many of the folks we met in the rural community of Wilson (Clarendon County) have suffered from roof damages as a result of Hurricane Florence. There were also water quality concerns from local well users in the area.


"It has truly been a tough time for friends, family and me in Conway and surrounding areas after this Hurricane season." Christina McCoy said. “As a mother I try my best to stay informed to protect my child’s health and I am particularly concerned about any lingering environmental threats as a result of all the widespread flooding that occurred in the region.”


Hundreds of homes, businesses, waste lagoons and industrial facilities in Conway were inundated with flood waters for weeks after Hurricane Florence when the Waccamaw River crested at over 20 feet. The Waccamaw River flooded for approximately 29 days. AAFJ was grateful to have an opportunity to help folks from Conway by distributing turkeys to those in need and providing NSF certified water filtration systems to community members with water quality concerns.


Photo: Conway community, Christina McCoy (front/middle), Xavier Boatright (left)

"My community is having a really hard time keeping up with all the repairs to our homes," said, Kenny Cooper of Lake City. “It seems like once or twice a year we have to pay for major repairs to our homes and this has been really challenging for folks on a tight budget.”


Photo: Lake City community, Xavier Boatright (left), Kenny Cooper (right)

Socastee, SC was also severely impacted by Hurricane Florence’s flood waters. On the afternoon of November 17, AAFJ visited the Rosewood community near Socastee High School. Most folks were busy working hard on home repairs as a result of the devastating floods that impacted the community. “The Waccamaw River rose out of its banks after the hurricane and flooded this entire community leaving some houses underwater for over a week,” said Terrance Butler of Socastee. “I has been difficult times for many in Socastee after the flooding and the holiday assistance that All Aboard For Justice has provided is much needed and appreciated.”


Photo Grid: Turkey donation x1 photo (Publix), Flood damage and repair efforts x7 photos (Socastee, SC), Damaged roof x1 photo (Manning, SC)


In recent years, South Carolinians have disproportionately felt the impacts of Climate Change. Historic flood events and major storms have plagued rural, low-income and minority communities faster and more frequently than most can afford to keep up with. The increased frequency of these events highlight the need to transition away from dirty fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gasses and contribute significantly to climate change. South Carolinians deserve sustainable energy and the many permanent jobs created by transitioning to renewables.


There is still much to be done to help SC’s coastal communities bounce back from Hurricane Florence before the next hurricane season. All Aboard For Justice will continue to relentlessly support these communities in their recovery efforts. Learn more about how YOU can help support these communities as they recoup and rebuild by reaching out to Xavier Boatright (xboat@allaboardforjustice.org) or making a kind and generous contribution to their efforts here!

Membership fees, contributions, donations, and gifts to All Aboard For Justice are tax-deductible. Your gift will help support our relentless efforts, including but not limited to protecting under-served environments, empowering communities through technical assistance and advocacy, and promoting safe healthy environments for future generations.

CONTACT

T: 803-410-3605

Address: 1931 Baggett Road Manning, SC 29102

E: allaboardforjustice@gmail.com

© 2018, All Aboard For Justice is 501(c)3 non-profit organization, governed by a Board of Directors