Fuck 'Em, They're Prisoners, Let Them Live On Toxic Waste

Submitted by: lalapancakes 1 year ago in News & Politics

There's a fairly sizable movement to place prisons on chemically toxic property of which human and environmental rights groups are calling attention to. An example is Rikers Island which was built on top of a landfill putting both employee and prisoner at risk of constant methane leaks, nitrogen oxide, and other toxic pollutants.

"Alex Friedmann, Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of Prison Legal News, believes the dangerous placement of these toxic prisons is intentional: “You don’t accidentally build a prison on a landfill, in a flood zone or in volcano warning zones,” he said at the convergence. “Prisoners are considered trash,” he added, “and we dispose of trash by putting it” out of sight."

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It's pretty common to develop areas that were formerly land fills, I think it has less to do with treating the prisoners like trash and more because it will provide a lot of land at cheap prices. Landfills have been known to leak poisonous gases, well contamination, create underground fires, and are susceptible to sinkholes. Yet the thing is they are almost entirely from landfills predating the 1980's the reason being because new laws were applied to landfills during the 1980 that prevent many of those problems. Now the EPA must also do a rigorous check of the land to make sure it is suitable for developing. In fact there is actually a new problem that's been created, now it's very hard for the material to rot away. The reason being because the layering system that landfills must abide by not only prevent gases from leaking out (except through a specially destined ventilation system) but also prevent oxygen from entering. This means that normal decomposers like bacteria can't breath and work there. I'm definitely not endorsing littering, but a normal newspaper can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year to break down naturally. Yet if they end up in a land fill they may stay there for hundreds of years. In fact we use the newspapers to date the age of the trash in a landfill during old murder investigations, soil testing, and archaeological digs. This article highlights Rikers Island, mainly because you're not going to get too many prisoners talking about how much they enjoyed their stay there and because the author has an anti-police bias. Yet in a lot of New York is built on old land fills, everything from Ellis Island, to Battery Park, to the FDR Drive, to the Norman Levy Park is built on land fills. The land fill on Ellis Island grew so large that it actually moved into New York's borders and became part of New York, leading to different legal battles between the states of New York and New Jersey. The land between 23rd street and 34th street was once known as the "Bristol Basin" because it too was an area where the city dumped it's trash but after WW2, filled up from European rubble from the city of Bristol when American ships bound for New York began using it as ballast in their supply ships. Another example is the fact that Freshkills Park on Staten Island used to be Freshkills landfill and was at the time the world's largest man-made structure. They even use the landfill under the park to generate electricity for New York and saves their residents about $12 million each year in gas and electricity. In fact most the outer edge of New York City is comprised of old trash that has been dumped there at one point or another. It's not simply a New York thing either, look at places like Virginia where the Mount Trashmore landfill was turned into the Mount Trashmore park. The Hickory Ridge Landfill outside Atlanta became the world’s largest solar cap for generating solar energy. Here in Baltimore you can find the same thing. Parts of the inner harbor are built on old dumping grounds, some of the communities in Parkville are built on an old landfill. The White Marsh Dump is slowly being turned into a forested wetland even as the landfill is still active. I've been there and it's turned into a beautiful area that's helping not only lessen the impact of hurricanes but is also an area helping to bring back endangered wildlife and grow pants that have become more rare like milkweed. It's also one of the few wetlands in Maryland that isn't threatened by nutria invasions. It's been so successful that a similar plan has been endorsed to turn the High Point Quarantine Landfill into a National Park that will offer similar benefits to both the environment and the nearby communities. People may find settling on land that was once used as a landfill gross but as time goes on and land becomes more valuable and I don't see how we help the environment by contributing to urban sprawl. If we can build office buildings, homes, parks, and energy plants on old land fills then I have no problem building prisons on them either, even despite the "dozens of activists" mentioned in the article. I also have to say the proposed solution of lowering both CO2 levels and prison populations by lowing the number of police on the street is at the most generous foolish and misinformed.