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Tuesday’s Kelly advisory board meeting could be its last

October 8, 2012

Robert Alvarado, a longtime resident of the so-called “Toxic Triangle” and community activist in his front yard last year.

When Air Force officials earlier this year floated the idea of dissolving the community advisory board overseeing cleanup at Kelly Air Force Base, several community members and scientists engaged in the effort decried the action as premature. Tuesday night they’ll get a chance to air those concerns in public.

Tomorrow’s Kelly Restoration Advisory Board meeting at John F. Kennedy High School could the last. Air Force Real Property Agency reps at the board’s last meeting in April insisted efforts to scrub Kelly of its toxic past are “in the home stretch,” and that the RAB was no longer needed. Following that meeting, AFRPA spokeswoman Linda Geissinger said the military would gather community input to present to the board this October. At the time she cited as progress the Air Force turning over the last patch of Kelly to the Port San Antonio industrial park in 2010, as well as the nine and a half year contract signed last year with Tennessee-based contractor Shaw E&I to continue onsite cleanup and monitoring.

“These are all some of the basic triggers when considering RAB adjournment,” she told the Current then. “All of these major decisions have already been made. … So what’s left that we’re asking advice for?” Geissinger could not be reached for comment Monday to discuss the upcoming RAB meeting.

The RAB was created in 1994 as the official avenue for talks between a concerned community and the Air Force as officials worked to shrink toxic plumes in the area’s groundwater — the result of years of dumping degreasers and paint thinners onsite. Despite various health impact studies over the past 20 years, officials have never drawn a definitive link between the contaminants onsite and elevated cancer rates and higher-than-normal birth abnormalities that have plagued the nearby neighborhood, the so-called “Toxic Triangle.”

To read more about of the concerns over shuttering the advisory board, see the Current’s coverage from the board’s April meeting. For more details on the contamination, cleanup efforts, and lingering questions over the impact of the contamination, see past coverage here and here. — Michael Barajas

The meeting will take place Tuesday, October 9 at 6:30 pm at John F. Kennedy High School at 1922 South General McMullen Dr. 

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