Tag Archives: Sunnyvale

Silicon Valley’s Success Sits on Toxic ‘Superfund’ Sites

The Environmental Burdens on our Neighbors

Silicon Valley has been one of the greatest wealth generators in the United States. Yet this wealth has come at a price, one that hasn’t been shared equally amongst the residents of the Bay Area. The more ‘visual’ costs, such as skyrocketing rents and urban sprawl obscure the more subtle, but far more dangerous and long-terms costs right beneath our feet. Literally. The true cost of Silicon Valley’s success is in the ground you stand on. Santa Clara County is home to 23 superfund sites, the most of any county in the United States. If you live in the South Bay, you are never more than a short drive from one of these sites. If you live in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, or San Jose, you can probably walk to one.

A site gains a superfund status if it scores above a 28.5 or higher out of 100 on the EPA’s Hazard Ranking System, which is a measurement of the site’s threat to human health. Sites must reach a certain level of severity before they can be designated as a ‘superfund’, which lets the government to force the parties responsible to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup. There are also hundreds of other toxic sites which don’t qualify as superfund sites which are scattered across Silicon Valley.

To understand where we are, we need to look at where we have been. Silicon Valley earned its name by hosting semiconductor and microprocessor companies such as Atari, Fairchild, Hewlett-Packard. These companies used a solvent called trichloroethylene (TCE) in their manufacturing process. TCE is now a known human carcinogen and can also cause birth defects. After use, the TCE was poured down drains or kept in storage tanks which subsequently leaded and contaminated local groundwater.  In some instance, the pollutants can re-emerge as vapor and result in ‘toxic plumes’ or ‘vapor intrusion zones’.

The environmental burden of these sites fallen unevenly upon the shoulders of people of color and the poor, as most sites “are predominantly situated in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara County cities which are comprised of the highest percentage of low socioeconomic immigrants of color.” Unsurprisingly, the whiter cities of Palo Alto and Cupertino host far fewer sites.

I live in northern Sunnyvale and I can easily walk to half a dozen, three of which are collectively called the ‘Sunnyvale Triple-site’. The vapor intrusion zone from this site encompass 400 homes and four schools, including the majority-Latino San Miguel Elementary School. Polluted in the 1980, the site was only fully cleaned up in the last decade and is now closely monitored by authorities.

Superfund sites are not the only environmental legacy of the economic boom. Another is traffic, a problem which plagues most of the Bay area, and Highway 101 is the “area’s most toxic industrial belt, with contamination impacting air, water, and soil.”

It is not a coincidence that Highway 101 through the same areas of Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Jose which host the highest concentration of minorities (and superfund sites).

The highway also runs through East Palo Alto on its way to San Francisco. East Palo Alto is diverse city with 61%  of its residents identifying as Latino, 15.6% African American/Black, and 11% Asian. The median income in 2018 was $58,783, a far cry from the average of $137,000 in whiter neighboring Palo Alto. Children in East Palo Alto are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from asthma as children in the rest of San Mateo County, and life expectancy is 13 years shorter.

And East Palo Alto isn’t an exception but rather part of a trend, a paper published by researchers at Santa Clara University noted that,

“Environmental burdens are concentrated along transportation routes and industrial centers that represent Silicon Valley’s rapid development. Hispanic populations, people of color, and socially vulnerable populations…are more likely to be exposed to multiple environmental hazards than other groups.”

The term ‘environmental burdens’ doesn’t quite convey the truth that our neighbors who bear these ‘burden’ will be sicker and die sooner than our neighbors without such burdens.

I felt two things when I learned this: shocked and lucky. Shocked, because I had no idea of the history of pollution and injustice which underlay the success of Silicon Valley.  And lucky, because while traffic is annoying I don’t live in an area where I have to worry that car exhaust will damage my health or the health of my family. Nor do I have to decide between affordable housing and living in an area which could be exposed to toxic vapor plumes.

And now I feel determined, because I can do something to help my neighbors who do have to worry about these things. I can vote for people who take environmental issues seriously, and who support clean public transportation. I can advocate at the state and local level for our legislators to ensure that the benefits and burdens of success are distributed more equally. I can speak up because we are all part of this community, and it is my responsibility to help my neighbors.


Erin Zimmerman was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2019 by the Climate Reality Project, but has been active in the environmental movement for over a decade. Erin holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Adelaide, where she focused on environmental degradation and its impacts on country and regional stability in Asia. She is currently the Chair of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Santa Clara Chapter of the Climate Reality Project  and an active member of the Legislative and Policy team.

Image by Hermina Olah Vass  @beautymakesasound

References
Fagone, J. and Dizikes, C. (2019). “SF’s Treasure Island, Poised for Building Boom, Escaped Listing as Superfund Site.” San Francisco Chronicle.
Greenaction. (2019). “East Palo Alto, California.” Greenaction.org.
Nieves, E. 2018. “The Superfund Sites of Silicon Valley.” The New York Times.
Pellow, D. N. & Park, L S-H. (2002). The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. NYU Press.
Rao, A. and Scaruffi, P. 2013. A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet. Omniware Group.
Reilly, C. (2018). “Silicon Valley’s ‘Middle Class‘ Earns 7 Times US Average.www.cnet.com.
Schlossberg, T. 2019. “Silicon Valley is One of the Most Polluted Places in the Country.The Atlantic.
Siegel, L. (2015). “Building Trust at the Triple Site, Sunnyvale, California.” Center for Public Environmental Oversight.
Solof, L.E. (2014). “Bay Area Student Involvement in the Environmental and Food Justice Movements: A Narrative of Motivations, Experiences, and Community Impact.” Doctoral Dissertation. University of San Francisco; The Faculty of the School of Education.
Stewart, I. Bacon, C. Burke, W. (2014). “The Uneven Distribution of Environmental Burdens and Benefits in Silicon Valley’s Backyard.” Applied Geography. 55: 266-277.
Stock, S. Paredes, D. and S. Pham. 2014 (12 May). “Toxic Plumes: The Dark Side of Silicon Valley.NBC Bay Area.
Sustainable Silicon Valley. (2020).
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). “What is a Superfund.

 

Carnatic Vocal Debut: Kaushik Shivakumar

Kaushik Shivakumar has been learning Carnatic vocal music for the last 13 years under the tutelage of Sangeetha Vidushi Srimathi Jayashree Varadarajan, Founder and Artistic Director of Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir School of Fine Arts based in Sunnyvale, CA.

Kaushik is very passionate about his singing  and has participated in many of the school’s music productions at various venues across the Bay Area and in Cleveland. He has won prizes at various music competitions that include the first prize in the Manodharma category at Silicon Andhra Annamaya Jayanthi and the 2nd prize in the Ragam Tanam Pallavi Category at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana in 2016. He was also a first prize winner in the group category of the Carnatic music Idol USA in 2013 and his group was invited to perform at the 2014 Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana. Kaushik has also presented solo vocal concerts under the banner of Nandalala Mission,  LOTUS and Swara Lahari.

Don’t miss your chance to experience Carnatic Music Vocal Debut Concert. Kaushik Shivakumar (Vocal), will be accompanied by Vignesh Thiagarajan on the violin and Vignesh Venkataraman on the mridangam.

August 3, 2019 4:00 pm. Campbell Heritage Theatre 1 W. Campbell Ave.Campbell, CA 95008. (408) 507-4680. shanthi.shivakumar@gmail.com, http://srirama.net/ .Admission free.

Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple Events

Om Sri Mathre Namaha

Vaidica Vidhya Ganapathi Center

Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple

(408) 226-3600
32B Rancho Drive, San Jose, CA, 95111
(Capitol Expressway West and Montrey Road Junction, Opposite and 1 Block from Capitol Cal Train Station)
www.vvgc.org or siliconvalleyhindutemple.com

Thursday, March 1st: Evening at 5.30 pm, Shiva abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa. Evening at 6.00 pm, maasi makham (magam), holi festival, pournami vratha, Sri Sathyanarayana swamy vratha / pooja, aarati and manthra pushpa. All are welcome to participate with family.

Monday, March 5th: Evening at 5.00 pm, Sri Sankata hara chathurthi, Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi homa / Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Sunday, March 11th: Daylight savings time begins.

Wednesday, March 14th: Evening at 6.00 pm, Pradosham Shiva Sri Rudra abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa. Night at 8.30 pm, Sri Karadayar Nombu special pooja. Please contact the temple for further details.

Sunday, March 18th: Ugadi festival, chaitra vilambi nama samvathsaram. Temple opens in the morning at 6.00 am. Sri Venkateswara suprabhatam continued with Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi abhisheka, Sri Shiva abhisheka, Sri Valli Deva Sena sametha, Sri Subramanya abhisheka, continued with Sri Panchanga patina / Panchaga sravana pooja in Telugu and Kannada. All are welcome to participate with family. Vasantha navarathri begins, continuous archana.

Sunday, March 18th; Night at 10.15 pm, Sukh Karta and Dukh Hartha aarati and Sri Jai Jagadesha Hare aarati for Balaji Ekantha seva, and the temple closes.

Thursday, March 22nd: Evening at 6.30 pm, kritika vratha Sri Valli Deva Sena sametha, Sri Subramanya  abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Friday, March 23rd: Night at 8.00 pm, Sukla Sashti Sri Valli Deva Sena sametha, Sri Subramnaya sahasra nama archana.

Sunday, March 25th: Afternoon at 2.00 pm, Sri Rama Navami, Sri Sita Rama kalayanam festival.  All are welcome to participate with family.

Thursday, March 29th: Evening at 6.00 pm, Pradosham Shiva Sri Rudra abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Friday, March 30th: Sri Panguni Uttram.

Saturday, March 31st: 12.00 Noon, Sri Nava Graha homa, Sri Saneeswara Graha homa, continued with Sri Nava Graha abhisheka, Sri Saneeswara Graha abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Saturday, March 31st Afternoon at 2.00 pm, Sri Pournami vratha, Sri Sathya Narayana Swamy pooja / vratha. All are welcome to participate with family.

Saturday, March 31st Evening at 4.00 pm, Sri Venkateswara abhisheka, continued with Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama chanting, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Tuesday, April 3rd: Evening at 5.00 pm, Sri Sankata Hara chathurthi, Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi homa / Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi abhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Friday April 13th: Evening at 4.00 pm, Sri Bhuwaneswari / Sri Lalitha Devi abhisheka, continued with Sri Lalitha Sahsra Nama chanting.

Friday April 13th Evening at 5.00 pm, Prdosham, Shiva Sri Rudra abhhisheka, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Saturday, April 14th: Vilambi Nama Samvathsaram / Baisakhi Tamil New Year souramana noothana nama samvathsaram, Vishnu Punya Kalam. Temple opens in the morning at 8.00 am, Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam, continued with sri Nava Graha homa, Sri Saneeswara Graha homa, Sri Venkateswara abhisheka, continued with Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama chanting, panchanga patana pooja, sravana pooja, aarati and manthra pushpa.

Please Make A Note: Temple Address: 32 Rancho Drive, San Jose CA 95111

Temple Timings: Week Days Morning 10:00am to 12 Noon, Evenings at 6pm to 8pm.

Weekends And Holidays: 10am to 8pm

For Bhajan’s Religious Discourses, Music and Dance Performances, Private Poojas please contact Temple for further details Mangalani Bhavanthu, Subham Bhuyath, Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavanthu, Love all serve all.

For Pujas and Rituals Contact: Pandit Ganesh Shasthry

880 East Fremont Ave #302, Cupertino Villas, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Home: (408) 245-5443 / Cell: (925) 209-7637

E-mail: srikalahatheeswara@yahoo.com