Biden Administration Plans To Reopen Child Detention Centre On Top Of Toxic Military Waste
The Biden adminstration is reportedly planning to reopen a child detention centre built on top of toxic military waste.
Since coming into power, US President Joe Biden has attracted criticism over the continued use of detention centres, with many seeing them as a reminder of the Trump era of discrimination against migrant families who were separated at the border.
The White House has been forced to defend re-opening a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, but now plans have emerged for reopening a further centre in an environmentally dangerous area.
As reported by the Miami Herald, there are reportedly plans underway to reopen Homestead, a for-profit emergency influx centre, under a new name: the Biscayne Influx Care Facility.
While unconfirmed, campaigners argue against using Biscayne as it’s built on top of a Superfund site, explained by the EPA as an area contaminated by waste which has been dumped, left out in the open, or improperly managed.
This isn’t necessarily the sole argument against reopening the centre, as some Superfund sites have been approved for residential use in the past. However, Homestead Air Force Base hasn’t, yet it’s still allowed to house people on potentially hazardous ground.
In a press release, nonprofit environmental group Earthjustice wrote: ‘Multiple dangerous conditions leave those being detained in Homestead particularly vulnerable to negative impacts on their health and well-being, some of which could persist throughout their lives.’
Across the eight polluted hotspots at Homestead, the soil and groundwater contains a number of contaminants, like metals, pesticides, semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds, chlorinated volatile compounds resulting from leaks, spills, waste handling of hazardous materials, as well as other industrial and military processes.
The group explained: ‘Many of these contaminants are human carcinogens and cause a variety of other serious chronic health problems including kidney failure, hemolytic anemia, and developmental damage. These conditions pose serious health risks for the children and raise serious concerns of involuntary exposure to unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals.’
The EPA told VICE there weren’t any concerns regarding the reopening of the Homestead centre, with the area now deemed safe after a clean-up. ‘The remaining contamination at Homestead Air Force Base is contained within the installation boundaries to which the general public does not have access,’ an email to the outlet read.
Erin Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for Earthjustice, argued: ‘We don’t have conclusive proof that these sites are safe. It’s something that we are very concerned about, not just from a human rights perspective, but also from an environmental perspective.’
Earlier defending the use of centres, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: ‘We have a number of unaccompanied minors, children who are coming into the country without their families.’
She added: ‘What we are not doing, what the last administration did, was separate those kids, rip them from the arms of their parents at the border. We are not doing that, that is immoral and is not the approach of this administration.’
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read