編譯:彭瑞祥

歐米多(Phyllis Omido)來自肯亞第二大城市蒙巴薩,某天,他發現自己的母奶居然含有重金屬鉛,會毒害自己的小孩,而且,他還不是唯一遭殃的!此後,他帶動社區自救運動,讓一家排放有毒物質的冶煉廠停工。

歐米多與她的兒子。她的兒子嬰兒時期曾遭鉛毒之苦。(圖片來源:Goldman Environmental Prize)

肯亞新興起的太陽能產業趨勢,帶動了鉛的需求,這些鉛必須靠熔煉車用回收電池來獲得;於是,在蒙巴薩市內,許多像是Owino Uhuru般的窳陋小鎮,其中住著許多迫切需要工作的邊緣窮人,便成了鉛回收產業的熱點。只是,一家開在Owino Uhuru的冶煉廠,不僅常常在夜間偷排含鉛毒氣,還把未處理廢水排入溪流──那卻是居民用來沐浴、炊事和洗滌的水源。

工廠工人是最直接接觸到化學品的人,廠方卻僅僅每月發給他們一雙薄薄的棉手套,常常用個幾天就破了,等到手套報廢了,工人便徒手作業。管理階層就不同了,進入工廠時,他們都有成套的防護設備。

歐米多與社區成員及前工廠工人會面洽談。(圖片來源:Goldman Environmental Prize)

歐米多育有一名男嬰,是個年輕的單親媽媽,當時,他受雇幫業者處理社區溝通,首要工作之一,便是和一組專家合作,彙整環境影響報告,接著他發現,雇用他的工廠和社區太過接近,讓居民處在高度的暴露風險,此外,工廠還可能會違規超標放;因此,他在報告中建議公司把工廠關掉遷走,但高層卻退回他的報告,並調走他的職位。

工作約三個月後,歐米多的孩子罹患重病住院,做過瘧疾、傷寒和一些潛在疾病檢測,卻都是陰性反應;之後,一名管理階層提醒他是否有鉛中毒的可能性,便請醫師作血液檢查,結果呈現急性高血鉛反應,判斷鉛可能得自於母乳。

孩子的治療費用高達2000多美元,遠超過歐米多能負擔的程度;資方打算支付醫藥費,要他禁聲作為交換條件,但歐米多對社區有所虧欠,於是他辭掉工作,做清潔婦勉強餬口,也賺點錢好支應後續的花費──為工廠工人和受害家庭打官司。

歐米多成立了正義、治理與環境行動中心,並說服政府衛生委員會提供全社區居民的鉛毒檢測服務。(圖片來源:Goldman Environmental Prize

受到社區牧師的鼓舞,歐米多走出家門,拜訪住戶,向他們打聽所見所聞,像是:養在後院的雞,喝到工廠滲出來的水就死掉、孩子發高燒又喊肚子痛、婦女小產或死胎等等,歐米多請他們想想鉛中毒的可能性,通常還得陪著不識字的家長到醫院去,幫忙把情況解釋給醫生聽。

他成立了「正義、治理與環境行動中心」(簡稱CJGEA),說服官方的衛生中心為社區檢測血鉛,結果有三名受測的孩童都沾上鉛毒,而,其中一名男孩的血鉛值更高得離譜,讓醫生又重測了一次,結果還是一樣,達到37mg/L,是一般美國孩童平均值的20倍。土壤檢測則顯示,在工廠開始運轉的2008年到2009年間,土壤鉛含量增加到將近10倍。

有了堅實的數據,歐米多回頭去找工廠管理階層,同時也找上國家環境管理署(NEMA),要求工廠關閉,但訴求卻石沉大海;接著,他發起一人一信運動和非暴力街頭抗議活動,在不斷升高的社區和運動壓力下,這家工廠終於在2014年1月停工。

歐米多個人也為此運動付出了沉重的代價。在2012年4月的一場勞工與居民聯合抗爭行動中,他被警方逮捕,被控非法集會和煽動暴力的罪名。吃牢飯的經驗,再加上他某夜回家途中,被兩名手持武器的歹徒粗暴襲擊的經驗,讓他陷入恐懼,對自己和孩子的人身安全深感不安。

冶煉廠關廠後,肯亞參議院衛生委員會多位委員到此地參訪,對所見大感震驚。他們承諾會提供全社區居民的檢測服務,並協助汙染清除。歐米多目前還在努力,不只要求這些委員實踐諾言,並依據憲法所賦予的權利提起訴訟,要求讓公民享有乾淨而安全的環境。

歐米多與一位孫子遭受鉛毒的女性會面。歐米多正基於憲法賦權,向肯亞政府提起訴訟,要求肯亞參議院衛生委員履行諾言,清理當地受汙染的環境,並照顧當地居民。(圖片來源:Goldman Environmental Prize)

 

After learning her own breast milk was making her baby sick—and realizing her child wasn’t the only one suffering from lead poisoning—Phyllis Omido galvanized the community in Mombasa to shut down the smelter that was exposing people to dangerous chemicals.

The burgeoning solar industry in Kenya has increased demand for lead, recovered by recycling car batteries in smelters. Shanty towns across Mombasa, where poor, marginalized workers are desperate for work, are hotspots for such industrial activity. Among them is Owino Uhuru, where a smelter emitted fumes laden with lead, often at night to avoid detection, and released untreated waste water that spilled into streams that residents use to wash, cook and clean.

Workers at the plant faced the most direct exposure to chemicals. They were provided one pair of flimsy cotton gloves per month, which quickly disintegrated after a few days. Once the gloves were gone, workers continued work with bare hands. In contrast, managers entering the factory did so in full protective gear.

Phyllis Omido was a young single mother with a baby boy when she was hired to manage the plant’s community relations. One of her first tasks was to put together an environmental impact report. Working with a team of experts, she found that the plant’s proximity to the local community left residents vulnerable to dangerous chemicals—and that the plant was likely operating under illegally obtained permits. Her report recommended closing the factory and relocating, but management dismissed the recommendations and removed Omido from the project.

About three months into her job, Omido’s infant son became violently ill and was hospitalized. Tests for malaria, typhoid, and other likely culprits all came back negative. Following a suggestion from a plant manager that it could be lead poisoning, doctors tested the baby’s blood and found that he had acutely high levels of lead, which had likely been passed along via his mother’s breast milk.

Her son’s medical bills quickly ballooned to more than $2,000, an insurmountable amount for Omido. She demanded that the plant pay for the hospital fees. The company paid her bills in exchange for her silence, but Omido felt a responsibility to the community. She quit her job and began cleaning houses to make ends meet and support her quest to bring justice to the workers and families impacted by the smelter.

With encouragement from a local pastor, Omido reached out to community members about what they had seen and experienced: chickens (often kept in backyards) died after drinking the water trickling out from the smelter. Children developed high fevers and complained of stomach aches. Women suffered miscarriages and stillbirths. Omido urged residents to consider lead poisoning as a possibility, often accompanying illiterate parents on hospital visits to help them explain the situation to doctors.

She founded the Center of Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action (CJGEA) and convinced the government health center to test local community members for lead. All three of the children had lead poisoning. In fact, lead levels were so unbelievably high with one child that the doctors retested the boy. The result was the same: 37 micrograms per decileter of blood, almost 20 times the median blood lead level among children in the US. Local soil tests showed lead levels increased almost tenfold from 2008 to 2009, when the plant became operational.

Equipped with hard data, Omido went back to the plant’s management and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to shut down the smelter. Her plea fell on deaf ears, and she ramped up pressure with letter writing campaigns and peaceful street protests. In the face of mounting community pressure and tireless campaigning by Omido and CJGEA, the smelter ceased operations in January 2014.

Omido paid a personal price for this work. During a protest in April 2012, as she began assembling factory workers and residents, police arrested Omido and charged her with holding an illegal gathering and inciting violence. Her time in jail, along with a brutal attack by two armed men on her way home one night, left her with a deep fear for her safety and that of her son.

Since the plant’s closure, members of Kenya’s senate health committee have toured the former smelter site. Appalled at what they saw, they pledged to provide testing for all community members and clean up the contamination. Omido is now working to hold them to that commitment, building a court case based on Kenya’s constitutional mandate to provide a clean and safe environment for its citizens.

 

原文請見Goldman Environmental Prize