East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Who we are
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) is a community-based environmental health and justice organization working toward a safe, healthy environment for communities disproportionately suffering the impacts of industrial pollution. We serve communities in East Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, and Long Beach, promoting full and authentic community participation in policymaking. We encourage and practice direct democratic decision-making and collective action for safe and healthy communities where we live, work, learn, and play. In recent years, we have succeeded in shutting down the incinerator in Commerce, which had plagued our communities for 31 years. We are dedicated to educating our community about the problem of an extractive economy – including the lifecycle of fossil fuels and plastics – and the alternatives: a zero-waste, zero-pollution regenerative economy. Through educational segments and workshops, we engage with residents about how we can transition our neighborhoods to this healthier, more just system.
The Fight to Close SERFF
Two out of the three incinerators in California were built in our communities. After decades of residents advocating for the closure of the incinerator in Commerce, the facility closed its doors in June 2018, citing financial reasons. Prior to its shutdown, EYCEJ, Valley Improvement Project, GAIA, and other groups organized to defeat legislation that would have provided the incinerators with much-needed subsidies in the form of renewable energy credits, despite incineration being a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, the Long Beach incinerator, SERRF, is co-owned by the City of Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, and operated by Covanta. As in the case with the Commerce incinerator, EYCEJ community members see the impacts of the incinerator on their health, their quality of life, and how long they live. We are calling on the City of Long Beach to shut down the incinerator and facilitate a Just Transition to Zero Waste.
Incinerator: Southeast Resource Recovery Facility
Location: 118 Pier South Ave, Long Beach, CA
Pounds of pollutants (annually): total HAPs — The EPA page is not working
Mercury: 5.2 (2014)
PM2.5: 16,210.69 (2014)
Lead: 39.13 (2014)
NOx: 634,424.18 (2014)
Community: 32% minority, 21% below poverty line
Critical Date: (Permit expiration date): August 22, 2023
Whitney Amaya is the Incinerator Organizer at East Yard. She is a second generation Salvadoran-American whose parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s/early 1990s to escape the El Salvadoran civil war. Whitney has been shaped by her family’s struggles and the values they taught her, as well as by community mentors who have taught her organizing and advocacy skills, and the power of community. All her work is for her family, her community, and future generations. She envisions a world free of racism, discrimination, and injustice, where communities have dissolved the extractive economy and replaced it with an economy in which they grow their own food, make their own products, and manage their own resources.