In September of 1993, the city of Huntington Park (HP) gave OK for Aggregate Recycling System (ARS)  to open up a shop to recycle concrete. In 1994, after the Northridge earthquake, parts of the collapsed 10 freeway were brought to HP to be recycled. The tall concrete rubble had measured at one point over one- hundred-fifty feet tall (imagine a building 3 stories high).

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Huntington Park is known as “Asthma Town” because of its high asthma rates among children. The community suffers because it is surrounded on three sides by the city of Vernon, which is almost exclusively an industrial district. Residents began to have more health problems once “La Montaña” came into town.

  • Nose bleeds, asthma, bronchitis, other breathing problems
  • Concrete is made up of different chemicals- people were breathing that chemical dust

When the residents complained to the city government, the city council said residents had to prove that their  health related problems were because of “La Montaña.” Residents contacted CBE and at the time got  councilman Rick Loya to visit the site. He was hospitalized when one of his lungs partially collapsed from breathing airborne debris at the site. After this, the local media gave more attention to the complaints of the residents.

A solution the city came up with was to put up a screen to stop the dust from blowing into the homes. Do you think this was a solution? NO. CBE organized the community and filed lawsuits against the landowner and the company owner. Eventually, under a public nuisance law, ARS was shut down. In fall of 2002, the clean up began up until 2005 when it was finally cleaned up. Initially, the rubble was to be recycled and sold to the developers of the Alameda Corridor that was under construction at the time.

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This community lived with this rubble of concrete for over 10 years. The Los Angeles Unified School District and the city of HP built a park as well as Linda Esperanza Marquez High School (named after a womyn of color) on the site where “La Montaña” was located. This was significant not only because a major toxic polluter was shut down, but also because a new resource for the community was created. This is a clear example of how we can make a difference if we stand together.

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