Friday December 23rd 2022
Approaching 1 year after the CSX coal explosion, Curtis Bay residents are starting a new fund to address the urgent health and environmental crises worsened by living next to a concentration of dozens of toxic and hazardous developments. The first $100,000 payment into the fund comes from a push from Curtis Bay residents to ensure that penalties following the December 2021 CSX coal explosion are placed under direct community control. Today, the Maryland Department of the Environment officially agreed to the community’s call.
“The CSX explosion was a reminder of what has already been known: we cannot live safely with a massive coal pile less than a 1000 ft from our homes and rec center.” said Curtis Bay resident Terriq Thompson. “We will use our own environmental justice and zero waste fund to build on the work we’ve already been doing for a decade including a just transition to a material that can be stored and transferred safely. Until then we will not stop.”
The first anticipated use of the fund is to convert a blighted vacant building on Curtis Bay’s mainstreet into a community owned center to advance environmental Justice and Zero Waste work prioritized by residents and workers.
“These funds are the start of a long overdue investment to correct an environmental wrong that has caused harm to too many individuals and we are fortunate to be in control of these funds to put our community on the right track for environmental justice and be a standard bearer for community driven change.” said Ray Conaway, Co-president of the Community of Curtis Bay Association.
The new fund will be used to advance Curtis Bay’s vision for a just transition that includes:
Stronger standards that protect our health, worker safety and our shared environment
Relief funds to mitigate the costs of hosting toxic waste infrastructure for decades
A “Just Transition for Zero Waste and green infrastructure Fund” to develop new community-owned compost, recycling, deconstruction, reuse and green infrastructure to end reliance on toxic waste and energy infrastructure
Protections for sanitation and other workers as we transition from outdated technologies to current approaches
End subsidies for the incinerators, landfills and dirty energy we are transitioning away from
Build and strengthen local end markets for compost, recycled commodities and renewable energy.
Curtis Bay and neighboring South Baltimore communities have suffered from over 100 years of explosions, leaks and exposure to hazardous materials leading to involuntary displacement. “Our work now is coming too late to change the complete destruction of the communities of Fairfield, Wagner’s and Hawkin’s Point all of whom were displaced for the sake of the profits of fossil fuel and hazardous waste corporations. Directing these funds under community control matters because it means we will use them to intensify our struggle to transition away from toxic development to community and worker led infrastructure in Curtis Bay. We cannot allow history to repeat itself in Curtis Bay.” Said Sashawnda Campbell, director of Environmental Justice with the South Baltimore Community Land Trust.