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US launches environmental justice inquiry in Houston, Texas

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is launching an environmental justice investigation in Houston, Texas, into an unlawful dumping, including bodies and medical waste, that officials say are clogging Black and Latino neighborhoods in the city.

The investigation, led by the Civil Rights Division, “will examine whether the city is responding to requests for municipal services, including in response to an illegal dump, in a manner that discriminates against black and Latino residents of Houston in violation of laws Federal Civil Rights Rights”. the ministry said in a statement.

At a Friday press conference, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division emphasized the seriousness of illegal dumps: “Illegal dumps attract not only rodents, mosquitoes and other vermin that pose health, but they can also contaminate surface water and impact clean drainage, making areas more susceptible to flooding.”

Other items dumped in neighborhoods include vandalized mattresses, appliances, furniture, tires and even ATMs, Clarke said.

“Illegal dumping can raise significant concerns about public health and safety, property values ​​and quality of life,” said Jennifer Lowery, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “We look forward to working with the Civil Rights Division to ensure the City of Houston meets its federal civil rights obligations.”

The Office of Environmental Justice was created in May. Its focus, according to the Associated Press, is “gated communities” in cities that have been exposed to pollutants from industrial sites.

“This investigation illustrates the department’s commitment to alleviating the disproportionate environmental burdens too often borne by communities of color, low-income communities and tribal communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environment Division. and Natural Resources Department of Justice.

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