A planned detention facility for migrant children is being built on a toxic site, a new report says.
"The area is contaminated with lead, arsenic, benzene, PFAS, and other chemicals associated with increased risk of cancer and neurodevelopmental damage. Other contaminants detected at the site include volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which contaminate the air and threaten human health through vapor intrusion causing nausea, headaches, and damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and liver," the environmental legal advocacy group Earth Justice claims in the Tuesday report.
The Trump administration proposed to house 7,500 unaccompanied migrant children at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, according to a July 2018 draft report by the Department of Health and Human Services for the U.S. Air Force.
The Christian Post reached out to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement for a response but did not hear back by press time.
According to publicly available documents obtained by Earth Justice, the detention facility will partly be placed on top of an old landfill. Other contaminated sites at or near where the children will be held, should the proposal move forward, include a previous small arms firing range, which contaminated the soil with lead, a fuel storage facility, and an Aqueous Film Forming Foam release area, which may have put polyflouroalkyl substances in the soil or groundwater.
"This report makes it clear that detaining migrant children on GAFB is not just ill-conceived, it is dangerous and could damage the lives of thousands of children for years to come. Migrant children fleeing desperate conditions do not belong in cages, let alone chemically polluted cages," the report concludes.
In its July draft report, HHS claimed that any potential environmental harm done to the children will be reduced or avoided before they arrive.
"The Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzes the potential environmental consequences of activities associated with the erection by Air Force and operation by HHS of temporary facilities for sheltering unaccompanied children at Goodfellow AFB, and provides environmental protection measures to avoid or reduce adverse environmental impacts," HHS stated.
The report also proposed that "Environmental Restoration Program sites would be fenced off and inaccessible to HHS & unaccompanied children."
Earth Justice filed a Freedom of Information Act request for more information on the environmental hazards at the site. The Air Force refused to release the records. Now, Earth Justice is suing the Trump administration on behalf of the Hispanic Federation, National Hispanic Medical Association, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Southwest Environmental Center, GreenLatinos and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, to get the information.
According to a local paper, GoSanAngelo.com, residents of San Angelo have inquired about how they can help the children, should they arrive, but were told their help would not be accepted.
"The Federal agencies supporting these facilities are unable to accept donations or volunteers to assist the unaccompanied alien children program," a spokesperson for the Administration of Child and Family Services said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo has also offered assistance.
"The Catholic Church of this area stands willing to assist with the spiritual needs of the residents, and we are also willing to offer any other volunteer charitable services that are allowed by the administrators of the detention center," Bishop Michael Sis wrote in a news release. "Our clergy and volunteers are able to communicate with the residents in Spanish."