Damage by coal ash to the southern aquifer cannot be undone

The most recent groundwater analysis shows that in little over a year, the chemicals detected in the aquifer under the mountain of coal ash at AES plant in Guayama — such as selenium, lithium and molybdenum — exceeded the maximum allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by four to 14 times. The consumption of these three elements has been associated with skin inflammation, acute pain, vomiting, weakness, liver dysfunction and death from poisoning, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. During the same period the concentration of heavy metals such as arsenic, multiplied by five   almost reaching the level of toxicity established by the EPA, while others, such as lead and cadmium, also showed significant increases. Considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 10 most alarming chemical threats to public health, arsenic in water has carcinogenic effects, according to the WHO International Center for Cancer Research. Even in low doses, it can cause irritation to the stomach, lungs and intestines, and in the long term, growth problems, neurotoxicity, diabetes and pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.

Puerto Ricans in Chicago: the stories of struggle and survival go on

The 10 empty liquor bottles are the color of seaweed and mud. Once they were litter on the streets of the East Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. But now, clean and sparkling, the bottles are on display some 2,000 miles away at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, part of a work by artist Edra Soto. Seashells made from plaster surround the bases of the bottles, referencing the sandy ocean shores of Puerto Rico, where she grew up. As if forming an altar, this eclectic combination of objects marks the artist’s passage from the island to the Windy City, and her continuing connection to both places.

‘Low Numbers’ From Puerto Rico Gov’t Pushed Harvard Group to Continue Hurricane María Death Toll Study

Four days before the results of the “Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria” study were published, Harvard University reported its findings to the government of Puerto Rico, but received no acknowledgment of receipt. It was not until The New York Times contacted the government to talk about the results that La Fortaleza requested a meeting with the study’s researchers, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor Rafael Irizarry Quintero told the the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI). “They only responded when the New York Times called them. They responded and asked to speak with us…” said the professor, who work on the study’s statistical analysis.

Puerto Rico with a Big “Menu” for Opportunity Zones

According to Manuel López-Zambrana, Puerto Rico has turned into a restaurant that should have a menu to please investors coming from the United States. He is a lawyer with the DLA Piper law firm and as a government adviser, he worked on the local legislation for the Opportunity Zones, a federal program that reduced to 20 percent the federal tax rate for funds used to invest in low income communities in Puerto Rico. The previous tax rate was 37.5 percent. “The most important thing to have in mind is that Puerto Rico, as an Opportunity Zone area, is competing with other states… We have to be well aware that if we want to bring that capital here, they will be looking at a menu of other options…, they can choose from a well-done filet mignon, a lobster, and we have to come up with something that is better,” said López-Zambrana during a forum at the University of Puerto Rico Law School.

Puerto Rico Gov’t Lacks Plan to Integrate Communities into ‘Opportunity Zones’

Modesta Irizarry did not know that her town, Loíza, a municipality on the north coast of Puerto Rico, was designated as an “opportunity zone.” In the neighborhood of Salud, Mayagüez, on the island’s west side, Orlando Serrano had not heard that his community is also under the same category. So is almost 98% of Puerto Rico. Opportunity zones form part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform, which reduces from 37.5% to 20% the tax rate paid by funds that invest in these “low-income communities.” Proposed legislation at the local level that enables the federal program on the island also exempts investors from Puerto Rico and abroad from paying construction excise taxes, while reducing 50% of municipal license fees during a 15 year period. “We are trying right now to understand the opportunity zones,” said Roberto Thomas, a community organizer from Bahía de Jobos, in southern Puerto Rico, between the towns of Salinas and Guayama. Community leaders Modesta Irizarry, Orlando Serrano and Roberto Thomas told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) that their communities have not had access to information about opportunity zones.

Public power versus privatized power: the debate in Puerto Rico before and after Hurricane Maria

From the inside of a cargo container like the ones used to transport food overseas, the town of Sterling, Massachusetts implements the energy system of the future. The general manager of this power services company, Sean Hamilton, walks with his head protected by a white hard hat on his way to the container. He opens the door and proudly shows off some 40 battery towers. They are capable of energizing the town’s emergency management center for 12 hours uninterruptedly, in the case that an extreme weather event destroys the power grid. Between 2017 and 2018 the American Public Power Association granted the utility a distinction for keeping the highest financial, operational and safety standards, and for contributing to the prestige of public companies through his achievements and customer service.