Carlton Waterhouse, the founder of Indigenous environmental justice advocacy group Australian Unarmed Climate Protesters, is the latest in a long string of activists who, after they speak up for environmental justice, find themselves labeled racist or vigilantes.
This time, Waterhouse is standing with the Environmental Justice Australia group, and the water pollution in the Peruvian desert won’t stop until it’s addressed.
Waterhouse’s involvement with EJ Australia stretches back to 2012, when the Sunshine Coast Friends of Gaia tried to do the right thing in Blue Mountains, New South Wales: stop the mining company Santos from dumping toxic ash and sludge into a local creek. Santos engaged in a legal battle with the NSW government over the discharge permit, which meant they had to apply to the EPA.
At first, the documents that came out on Santos’s application showed the fact that all of its waste, including the non-potable waste material, was to be stored at the landfill in Blue Mountains. But the EPA insisted that all of it was to be placed in a specialised, location chosen for being flat, rural, and open space for ease of transport. They later gave in and permitted Santos to place all its waste in the creek, even though Santos failed to provide a full transport plan (which they were required to do).
It was then that water contamination in the nearby Beechmount Reservoir in the Blue Mountains became a major story, soon followed by the community outcry over the treatment of the Beechmount Community.