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Occupy vs. Chemicals and ALEC

Street theater chemical spill on Hwy 99. Photo credit Dusk Winston
Street theater chemical spill on Hwy 99. Photo credit Dusk Winston

You might have noticed a chemical spill, a man foaming at the mouth and folks in hazmat suits if you were driving down Hwy. 99 by the Georgia-Pacific Eugene Resin Plant on the cold snowy morning of Feb. 29. 

There wasn’t a real chemical spill that day, but Occupy Eugene, Tango Down and Cascadia Action Lab did a guerilla street theater enactment of a spill. The action was designed to call attention to the “ever-increasing rate of toxic exposure to air and water contaminants in west Eugene” and “the dangers of carcinogenic, poisoning chemicals” thanks to industries such as the resin plants, according to Occupy and the Action Lab. 

The resin plant is outside city limits and so does not have to report to Eugene’s Toxics Right-to-Know database. Dusk Winston of Occupy Eugene says the plant emits formaldehyde, among other chemicals.

“There are children coming out with cancer and health problems” in the area, says Winston. “And most people are just unaware.” 

The radical street theater also highlighted that Georgia-Pacific is a Koch Brothers-owned business that uses its membership in ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), a “front group that permits corporations to control politics,” to create and push through model bills, the communiqué says. 

The skit emulated a chemical spill with yellow liquid coming out of a tipped over drum, hazmat suits and the “worker” had a mock seizure and foamed orange liquid from his mouth. Winston says the street theater was performed just long enough to call attention to the issue, but not so long that an actual hazmat or biohazard team would be called out. 

Winston says that the action was part of a national day of action called F29 that protested the role of corporations in politics. She says F29 was fomented by Occupy Portland and had nationwide actions. Also on Feb. 29 the groups shut down Eugene’s Bank of America for a period of time, Winston says. 

Cascadia Action Lab “believes that it is unacceptable to permit the continued poisoning of our community through unethical pawns known as legislators, who manipulate political process to support expansion and profit for the 1 percent.”

Watch a video of the action at wkly.ws/17t or blogs.eugeneweekly.com