Since the beginning of this year, parishioners at St. Madeleine Church in Pomona have worked with fellow members of the community-based One L.A. to oppose the proposed Ninth Street Pomona Valley Waste Transfer Station.On Aug. 13, about 50 people — comprised primarily of St. Madeline parishioners along with representatives from other local Christian churches and the Association of Pomona Teachers — hit the sidewalks to rally support for their cause. Knocking on doors in the northeast Pomona area — the location of the proposed transfer station — volunteers alerted residents about the issues surrounding the facility. Most citizens, the walkers noted, had no idea the city was planning such a large and potentially hazardous operation right in their neighborhood.“They are proposing to build in the poorest part of Pomona, a city which is one of the poorest in the area,” said Father Alex Aclan, St. Madeline pastor. Indeed, the facility is slated to be constructed in the area that has the second highest number of low-income families in the city — the tract with the highest number is adjacent.The waste transfer station is also troubling, said Father Aclan, because of the projected health risks, especially on the “poorest of the poor. That’s why we are giving a voice to them from a social justice point of view. Jesus worked to change the situation for the oppressed — that’s what we need to continue today.” Parishioners returned from their Saturday walk energized at having rallied others to the cause. More than 400 signatures were garnered from residents who wanted to be kept informed on the status of the facility. It’s hoped that many citizens will join the One LA volunteers on September 28 at Pomona City Hall for a Planning Commission Public Hearing to discuss the proposed transfer station. “We want to get thousands of people out to City Hall that day and let their voices be heard,” said Father Aclan.The waste transfer station project has potential long-lasting repercussions for the community, despite the claims that as many as 50 “possible” jobs will be created, said Father Aclan. “Who knows if they will hire workers from the area?” he asked. “There are so many other factors that bend the scale in the other direction. Fifty jobs are not that much in the big scheme of things these days.”The Revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) suggests that if the facility is built, the community will experience extra pollution, susceptibility for respiratory illnesses for the young and old, and exposure to possible cancers.More than 610 truck trips per day are expected in and out of the area and that high volume of traffic adds not only more emissions but wear and tear on local roads and streets. Even the EIR indicates that the circumstances revolving around this waste transfer station are of an environmental justice concern, based on the EPA’s guidelines.Ten schools are within a one-mile radius of the project and one school — Washington Elementary — is only a half-mile away.“We want to be responsible with our waste, but we already have a facility in Pomona that is sufficient to us,” said Father Aclan of the current station that is only eight blocks away from the proposed project. “This new facility would process 1,500 tons of trash each day, and not from just our city but from Claremont, Chino Hills and La Verne.”Father Aclan said that One LA has been offering alternative locales for the facility as well as suggestions to city planning for ways to raise the revenue stream in the Pomona area. He mentioned Pomona Valley Hospital and Western University, a graduate school for health professionals. “Why can’t we create a medical corridor in the area?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that bring in revenue and jobs to the area? More than a waste transfer station?” The pastor was pleased that his parishioners, who are involved with One LA, see their ministry extend beyond the church boundaries and directly into their community. In the years that St. Madeline has been a member of the Pomona Valley Cluster of One LA, parishioners have been involved in a number of civic concerns, including immigration issues and police-neighbor relationships.Margaret Velarde, who has headed up the St. Madeline One LA committee for six years, is hopeful that the city will do the right thing regarding the future of waste in Pomona. While prayer and hoping are positive steps, she said, “God said to us, if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself. It’s up to us to make the changes we want to see. We are the change.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0819/stmadeleine/{/gallery}