More ‘environmental racism’: Schumer says infrastructure bill will remove lead pipes in city bowels

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Outside a Lower East Side playground, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday announced that Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) funds will pave the way for a lead-free New York City.

Lead in drinking water has been proven to cause irreparable damage to the human body, especially in children as they grow older, which is why New York has banned the use of lead pipes in plumbing. in 1961 and throughout the United States in 1986. Despite this, lead pipes still lie under the streets of the Big Apple, delivering contaminated drinking water to thousands of people, especially in low-income communities. returned.

“There has been something lurking in the pipes under our city that is making our children sick, threatening public health for far too many people, especially the poor and the people of color who have suffered the most from the pipes. lead, ”said Schumer, joined by Rep. Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Brian Kavanagh and elected board member Chris Marte, along with union representatives, outside the Captain Jacob Joseph playground.

New York state has 360,000 lead pipes, the pol said, compared to an estimated 137,000 New Yorkers.

“According to New York League of Conservation Voters modeling, New York believes there could be at least two dozen major service lines within a block of where we are today. “said Schumer.

Members of the Environmental Justice Alliance, National Resources Defense Council, and other groups have carefully researched this issue, creating detailed maps showing areas that still have lead pipelines, which Schumer used to indicate areas in the Lower East. Side.

In 2018, the New York Health Department released a lead monitoring report indicating that out of 351,486 children (under the age of 18) were tested for lead exposure, approximately 4,717 had at least five micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood. Although this number has decreased, exposure continues until the lead piping is replaced.

Schumer maps out the areas most at risk. Photo by Dean Moses

Holding up pipes and signs saying “Get out the lead,” Schumer and his company called the removal of some 360,000 lead pipes a legal down payment.

“That’s a lot of potential lead here in this neighborhood, where we walk, and the pipes might look benign, but they can be toxic and decades ago we learned that lead can create huge problems in our house. our kids, but very people rarely did anything about it. Today we are here to welcome the fact that there is $ 15 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill already enacted to take the lead Schumer said, adding that there was potentially an additional $ 10 billion in the Build Back Better program, and once passed the Senate would total $ 25 billion in lead phase-out funds.

Along with the health benefits of the move, Schumer assures that the construction crews and engineers involved will come from unionized jobs.

“Get your head out. ” Photo by Dean Moses

“We all saw what happened in Flint, Michigan. We saw that lead was a ticking time bomb, especially for poor communities, for black communities, for Latino communities, for communities of color. And let me just say that lead is more harmful to children because their nervous system and their whole system is developing and lead gets into it early and seriously injures them, ”Schumer said.

As a man of color, new board member Marte thanked Schumer for addressing this issue, but also spoke about the disproportionate number of black and brown families who are most affected by lead. Proclaiming that he would no longer have to worry about his loved ones, Marte also thanked conservationists for fighting for change.

“They know that the work they do takes decades to achieve long nights, long weekends, because they know it is difficult to fight against special interests,” Marte said, adding: “I grew up in this neighborhood. I drank from lead pipes. Whether it was our home, whether it was at school, whether it was for a drink of water at church. I am a victim of racism. And I’m so glad we’re finally doing something about it.

New board member Christopher Marte. Photo by Dean Moses

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