BREAKING: Greenpeace activists stop coal shipment at Pulaski Bridge in Chicago

by chris eaton

May 24, 2011

Eight Greenpeace activists have stopped a coal barge in the river from the Pulaski Bridge.

Rappelling off the bridge, they displayed a banner that said “We can stop coal” and “Nosotros podemos parar el carbn.”

Dangling above the water, the presence of the activists prevented the coal barge from passing. From the bridge, the activists proclaimed to Edison International that people have the right to choose clean energy for their communities. They demanded that Edison International shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants.

You can join in the action and help us send a message to Edison International to shut down the Chicago Fisk and Crawford coal plants.

The Fisk and Crawford plants – operated by Edison International subsidiary Midwest Generation are among the oldest in the United States. More people live in range of these plants than any other coal plant in America; nearly one in four Chicagoans live in a three mile radius of one or both plants.

Coal fired power plants kill between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year–as many as one person every 15 minutes. That staggering figure includes the 42 Chicagoans who die as a result of pollution from Fisk and Crawford, including residents in the severely affected communities of Pilsen (near the Fisk plant) and Little Village (near the Crawford plant). According to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, residents are at risk for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness because of pollution from these plants.

“I know that we can stand up to big coal and use our collective power and strength to stop companies like Edison International from poisoning our communities. All around America, people like us can stop coal. We must take a stand for our health, our welfare and our future,” said Laila Williams, one of the activists dangling from the bridge.

In addition to the toxic pollution, coal fired power plants are the biggest single source of global warming pollution in the United States, which will cause sea level rise and extreme weather, as well as droughts and lower crop yields.

Ian Viteri, a resident of the Little Village community affected by the Crawford plant said, “Communities like Little Village are being hit the hardest by pollution from coal plants, and enough is enough.

We can’t afford to lose any more lives. The youth in our community deserve a better future with clean air to breathe.” Robert Gardner, a coal campaigner with Greenpeace said, “Citizens of Chicago’s Little Village have been fighting for years to protect their health and the lives of their children from the pollution pouring from the smokestacks of the Crawford power plant.

Despite their calls for justice, the City of Chicago has failed to act, and Edison International has refused to do the right thing and shutter this ancient facility.

But things can’t simply continue the way they are. Greenpeace is here to support Little Village and, at least for a moment, stop a grave injustice.” Earlier this spring, the Chicago City Council failed to vote on the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which would have forced the plants to clean up or shut down. More updates will follow later today.

By chris eaton

chris is the Senior Digital Campaigns Manager at Greenpeace USA. He's passionate about building movements and connecting change makers through digital storytelling. Follow him on Twitter at @chr15_eat0n.

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