Thursday, March 24, 2011

Architectural Hot Zones

A recent Citiwire editorial by Roberta Brandes Gratz takes up a critique of the bio-science industry that we dealt with in our tour of the Chicago Technology Park. Brandes Gratz's piece takes on initiatives to construct a BioDistrict in New Orleans's Mid-City Neighborhood. We tried to understand the spatial impacts of the biotech industry through the metaphor of "spatial eugenics," a metaphor that looks like it might be equally, if not more so, applicable in NOLA.
The NOLA Defender has a short piece on the clearing of the land that has occurred there, along with a photo essay. The Christian Science Monitor has a more detailed story from December.
Image above from the NOLA Defender's Kat Arnold.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Underground Migration

So, when we proposed an underground walkway for visitors to be taken from a contaminated lot at Fifth and Hill in Champaign, IL to our proposed mMigration Research and Recreation Center, we couldn't have imagined that an underground pipe leaving the site was already present. Thanks to investigations by the Champaign County Health Care Consumers, a pipe once used to transport toxic coal tar from a coal-to-gas manufacturing plant into a local creek was found. From the CCHCC press release:

Yesterday, we released the environmental test results from samples of a pipe (and the soil around it) at Boneyard Creek. The pipe is one that belonged to the former manufactured gas plant at Fifth and Hill Streets in Champaign, which is now the Ameren toxic site. Our concern has been that this pipe could be an ongoing source of toxic contamination into the Boneyard Creek, and along the 5-block stretch of the neighborhood where the pipe runs, til it ends at Boneyard Creek.
When the plant was in operation, from the late 1880s until the late 1950s, the pipe was used to dump tons of coal tar and other petroleum-based wastes into the Boneyard Creek. The environmental experts working with the 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign learned about the existence of this pipe after only one day of conducting background research. The pipe and the gas plant's use of the pipe to dump coal tar was detailed in a 1915 report by Ralph Hilscher. The environmental experts working with us asked the IL EPA and Ameren to investigate the existence of this pipe, because of its potential threat to human health, the environment, and Boneyard Creek.
The IL EPA refused to investigate, saying there was no evidence for the existence of the pipe. It should be noted that in the 15 years that IL Power/Ameren have "investigated" the toxic site, they apparently never found evidence of this pipe.