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Sustainable Bronx grads to assist in oil spill clean up

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, now an infamous and embrrassing stain on the record of both BP oil and the President Obama’s administration, has only seemed to grow worse in recent days. Sea creatures and shore wildlife have suffered, beaches lie vacant, and the whole world watches it all unfold with sad, horrified expressions.

Now Sustainable South Bronx is helping out the best it can. The green jobs organization, which has opened parks across the borough and helped hundreds of people who might have difficulty getting a job by training them in sustainable work sectors, has dispatched 15 of its recent graduates to the Gulf in order to aid with the oil spill cleanup effort.

“The circumstances, of course, are unfortunate,” said executive directort Miquela Craytor. “But it’s an exciting opportunity in the sense that our students will be part of the solution, mitigating negative environmental impact.”

Craytor noted that this is undoubtedly the most nationally significant work that SSBx graduates have gone on to perform.

The organization, which has a mission to “train a new generation of green collar workers,” is responsible for the recently finished Hunts Point Riverside Park, as well as for the South Bronx Greenway, which they began working on in 2001 when the SSBx was founded. In April 2010, they won national recognition in the form of an award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Almost all of the 15 graduates sent down to the Mississippi riverbank are from the Bronx. Their names cannot be released, nor can they comment yet, in accordance with a rule about not speaking to media. But Craytor did share that the graduates are working, essentially, six days a week. Their duties include “filling in sandbags, clearing oil, preparing the waterfront and basically trying to prevent further contaminat­ion,” according to Craytor. The rigorous ecological training program to which these men and women were subjected included a 40-hour hazardous material handling certification, and Craytor noted, “that alone is what has made our graduates qualified to take these positions. They know how to handle hazardous material, like oil slicks.”

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