Winona is a rural Texas community of 500 people living downwind of a toxic-waste injection-well facility built in 1982. Photographs of these residents and their community reveal tragic human results believed to be associated with toxic emissions and contaminations by the American Ecology Environmental Services toxic-waste facility (formerly known as Gibraltar).
The community was originally told that Gibraltar would install a salt-water injection-well facility and plant fruit orchards on the remaining land. Instead, trucks and trains from all over the U.S. and Mexico came to Winona to dump toxic waste into the open-ended wells. No fruit orchards were ever planted.
It was not until 1992, when the residents began to fear the long-term effects of the various emissions and odors emanating from the facility, that Phyllis Glazer formed Mothers Organized to Stop Environmental Sins (MOSES). In March 1997, the facility announced its shutdown, citing continued opposition by MOSES as the reason.
Winona children suffer numerous health problems: birth defects, rare tumors and cancers, stunted growth, brain and liver damage, kidney malfunction and failure, skin discolorations, immune deficiencies, and chromosomal abnormalities (genetic mutations). Most residents attribute many unexplained illnesses and some deaths to the American Ecology facility.
© 1997 Phyllis Glazer and Bianca
My Involvement with the Winona Community
I first became involved with the Winona community in 1994, when asked pro bono by MOSES to photograph Jeremy as a poster child for its campaign to raise public awareness of the dangerous and toxic conditions believed to exist in Winona, and to garner public support for its intent to shut down the facility. As the 15-minute photography session progressed, I found myself becoming deeply concerned about what was happening to this community and its residents. Haunted by Jeremy's honesty, nearly a year passed before I called MOSES to ask them to provide me with the names of other affected residents, so that I could document their stories on film as well. Through the lens of a plastic Holga camera, I tell their story.
Fruit of the Orchard (FOTO) addresses the sociological consequences of economic change, and examines the long-term effects of modern technology on the human condition. My involvement with FOTO has already heightened my sense of my own responsibility as a photographer to go beyond mere documentation and presentation, in order to embrace the more fundamental ethic of using my talents and skills to convey messages that need to be heard.
and is sponsored by the
Prints from this exhibit are available from Tammy Cromer-Campbell. Please contact her directly.