Keystone pipeline pollution worries some Manchester residents

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by Rekha Muddaraj / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 6:40 PM

HOUSTON -- The Keystone Oil Pipeline has gotten a lot of backlash from people worried about pollution from the project, including people here in Houston.

Some residents in Houston's Manchester community are worried the pipeline is more of a threat to their health.

“We're dealing with it, we're bearing the brunt of all of this pollution,” said Manchester resident Yudith Nieto,

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline may soon be a part of it all with local refineries expected to process most of the crude from Alberta, Canada.

Yudith Nieto is fighting it.

“The pipeline is very unfairly being put in yards of people who have no say,” said Nieto.

Every Saturday, Nieto does community outreach in Manchester. She talks to people about the possible environmental and health effects of the pipeline.

Nieto says she was diagnosed with asthma as a child. She blames her surroundings.

“Your head will start hurting, nose bleeds, you'll have headaches, your throat will burn and you leave and you feel the effects and you realize it's because of the air,” Nieto said.

“It shouldn't be different from any other pipeline, we have pipelines all over the place,” said Bob Brito, an economics professor at Rice University.

Professor Brito says it's not a matter of if pipeline will be installed, rather when.

“It costs about $8 to move the oil to Houston from Canada by pipeline. It costs $16 per barrel to move it by train,” said Brito.

Manchester is a low-income neighborhood that is predominantly Latino and African Americans. Many folks are more concerned about putting food on the table than about air quality.

“The average people around my age, late 20's early 30's. I don't' think we're that into it, we're more trying to survive,” said Manchester resident David Benitez.

Benitez says he has heard about the efforts by local activists; but, he's not concerned.

“My family's lived there for about 50 years now, I grew up in that neighborhood,” said Benitez. “I'm fine. My kids are growing up in there.”

But Nieto is not giving up.

“They need to help the community and the people who can't bear the brunt anymore and breathe this toxic air anymore,” Nieto said. “If they really care about the community, they have a social responsibility.”

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