"Jesus People Against Pollution (JPAP) Global Ministries"
PO Box 464, Colombia, MS 39429
[www.JPAP.org] [KeysJPAP@aol.com], (601) 736-7099, (601) 818-0137
Evangelist Charlotte L. Keys, Founder and Executive Director,
with the "New Jerusalem Apostolic Pentecostal Church" & "Divine Destiny Apostolic Church".
Jesus People Against Pollution (JPAP) is a grassroots environmental justice organization located in Columbia, Mississippi. The organization was created in response to an explosion at a local chemical plant that resulted in severe exposure of the community to toxic substances. JPAP has set out to educate and inform the impacted communities about the availability of toxicology and environmental health information so that the community can better understand the relationship between environmental exposure and disease.
Dr. Charlotte Keys lost her county job and her life was threatened when, as a county clerk, she discovered and publicly discussed lawsuits filed by several workers against Reichold Chemical. After she learned about the severe health problems plaguing the old and young in her community, traced to 1977 explosion at Reichold’s plant, Keys created Jesus People Against Pollution to mobilize her community to demand health and environmental justice.
Please read "Bringing Climate Justice to Rural Mississippi", by Pastor Dr. Charlotte L. Keys (2013-07-11) [https://web.archive.org/web/20140508014228/http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/07/11/bringing-climate-justice-rural-mississippi].
"The corporate poisoning of Columbia, Mississippi"
Posted 2012-12-29 by "BlackTalkRadio" [www.youtube.com/user/BlackTalkMedia], at [www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JmFiexWhRA]:
The story of the poisoning of the community of Columbia, Mississippi, (Marion County).
According to EPA filings, "In January 1975, Reichhold Chemicals, Inc., (Reichlfold) purchased the property. Reichhold's operation included mixing pentachlorophenol (PCP) with diesel oil. The PCP and diesel oil were mixed and heated using Dowtherm as a heat transfer medium. In other operations, boron trifluoride was mixed with phenol and di-isobutylene to form octal phenol resin. Xylenes were also used in a number of processed. Reichhold continued operations at the property until March 1977, when an explosion and fire in one of the boiler units destroyed most of the processing facility. No operations were conducted at the Site from 1977 to 1980. During this time the Site was secured behind a locked gate."
The contamination of the community was brought to the attention of Al Gore and in 1993 he promised to visit the site but did not keep his word. He was invited by Jesus People against Pollution executive director Dr. Charlotte Keys.
Excerpt from “Mississippi–Human Rights Struggle Continues”, 2013-01-09 posted at [link]:
[ ... ] In fact, the sloth of the government to force a cleanup of an environmental holocaust in Columbia, Mississippi points to the truth of H. Rap Brown’s statement in the 1960s that “When government becomes the lawbreaker then people must become the law enforcers.”
Charlotte Keys of Jesus People Against Pollution (JPAP) and my friend and colleague Benetta Johnson of the Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition (I serve on the board of ACJC) who alerted me to her struggle, has led a knock down, drag out struggle for justice for all the people of Columbia, black and white, young and old, for years. Charlotte and Benetta are among the many contemporary activists keeping the struggle for human rights alive.
This video contains the incredible but true story of the trials and tribulations Charlotte and JPAP have gone through trying to get justice in the wake of one of the worst cases of toxic chemical dumping in history in Colubmia (my thanks to my friends and colleagues Michael Jones of Digital Evidence and Scotty Reid of Black Talk Radio Network for assisting with the conversion of the DVD and You Tube Posting).
Excerpt from "Environmental Justice Group exposes polluted chemical sites at Capitol hearing", 2011-01-28 from the "Jackson Advocate" newspaper [web.archive.org/web/20140508001830/http://www.jacksonadvocateonline.com/environmental-justice-group-exposes-polluted-chemical-sites-at-capitol-hearing/]:
[ ... ] Evangelist Charlotte Keys of Columbia has worked for more than two decades to obtain “environmental justice” in her community that was declared free of chemical pollution 20 years before after a purported Superfund cleanup.
Keys, the executive director of Jesus People Against Pollution, was one of the local fighters whose efforts reached all the way to the White House during the Bill Clinton Presidency. It was Clinton who took note of the disparity between white, black and Hispanic communities affected by chemical pollution. Clinton issued his executive order that called for “Environmental Justice” in all communities plagued by deadly chemicals in the air, the soil and water.
Keys said that once she got into the routine of challenging both the EPA and the polluting companies, she began receiving death threats and her late nights were frequently plagued with harassing phone calls.
“I had an OSHA report that said that if a cloud of Phosphene had blown over Columbia High School, the children would have drowned in their own body fluids.”
The report also pointed out the many cancer-causing agents that lay exposed in the community, she said.
“We have many people who died in Columbia, Mississippi without a real, full health study. And we do not have justice because people needed access to environmental primary health care services and housing. People lived right up on the polluted soil with only a cyclone fence separating their homes from the Superfund cleanup site.”
Keys challenged the Superfund site located in Columbia to give fair treatment to poor African Americans and poor whites whose properties had been skirted by EPA agents, after many residents were not even considered for compensation for their medical and health problems caused by the pollution.
“What has happened over a long period of time is that many new communities have been awakened to the fact of environmental injustice in their own communities,” Keys said.
The Columbia Superfund site has been de-listed, Keys said, which in theory gives the area a clean bill of health, although she contends that the area is as chemically polluted as it was 20 years ago.
[ ... ]
"Cleaning Reichhold Chemical Plant Pollution Through Vision-To-Action Plan"
2010-07 from "River Network" [http://www.rivernetwork.org/columbia-ms-cleaning-reichhold-chemical-plant-pollution-through-vision-action-plan]:
COLUMBIA, MS -
In Mississippi, our early work focused on the Reichhold Chemical plant in Columbia, which had illegally buried thousands of drums of chemical waste and discharged wastewater containing numerous toxic chemicals into a nearby creek, a tributary to the Pearl River, without a permit. Columbia is a low-income community with a sizable African-American population. The creek experienced fish kills, and more than 200 cattle that used the creek became sick and died.
Then, in 1977, the plant, located in the heart of Columbia, caught fire and literally blew up. The more than 4,500 drums on site began to leak into the soil. Subsequent floods spread the toxins into surrounding farmlands, rivers and residential neighborhoods.
EPA testing of sediments revealed the presence of numerous toxic contaminants, including xylene, PCB, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cyanide, and, mercury. Area residents began to get sick. Residents reported high numbers of cancers, respiratory problems, immune deficiency disorders, miscarriages, and skin disorders of various kinds. Residents also complained that clean-up efforts have been woefully inadequate, and in some cases may have resulted in simply distributing the problem to other parts of the city.
River Network assisted the local community group, Jesus People Against Pollution plan and conducted a health survey of area residents. The health survey examined various exposure routes and adverse health outcomes. Trained volunteers surveyed residences surrounding the Superfund site and the residents of a comparison community selected by the Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center, based on similar demographic features. River Network and JPAP hosted a number of gatherings of area residents who identified their health concerns. College students were paired with local residents and together they conducted more than 200, ½-hour interviews.
While conducting the health survey, River Network also helped JPAP on a collaborative problem solving effort to reach out to key area stakeholders and to create a blueprint for change. At the time the site was declared a Superfund site, the community was divided over the issue and many stakeholders did not see eye-to-eye. There was considerable animosity on the part of the White business community towards some in the African-American neighborhoods surrounding the plant. Many felt that declaring the site a Superfund site and threatening lawsuits was just a case of poor people trying to take money that did not belong to them.
River Network worked with JPAP and some helpful city leaders to establish a list of all of the key stakeholders. Together we went door-to-door to speak with business owners, bankers, construction firms, city officials, religious leaders, hospital executives and others. Through numerous one-to-one meetings and intervening group gatherings of stakeholders, some quite contentious, the community began to pull together. We helped the community an dkey stakeholders come together a sign a united Vision-to-Action plan calling for a complete site clean-up and relocation of residents.