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10/11/2022 | Organizing for Healthcare Justice, Protecting Immigrant Communities


Exposing the Industry’s Environmental Degradation in Puerto Rico

    US PHARMACEUTICAL CORPORATIONS are causing massive environmental damage in Puerto Rico. Not only are pharma giants extracting enormous tax breaks and profits from the archipelago, they are fueling environmental racism that harms millions of Puerto Ricans. Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Merck, Pfizer, and others have created 15 toxic waste sites the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated as “Superfunds.” As the report highlights, pharmaceutical companies operating in Puerto Rico violate the Clean Air Act, deplete and pollute critical groundwater supplies that Puerto Ricans drink from, and flout critical environmental regulations. In the past three years alone, EPA data reveals that among the pharmaceutical facilities the agency monitors, one in three were cited for violating vital environmental protections. Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb and more than a dozen other plants operating in Puerto Rico also faced EPA enforcement actions for serious environmental impacts.

    Puerto Rican communities suffer enormous chronic health issues as a result, including high rates of cancer, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses. They contend with unsafe drinking water and toxic chemical exposures. Puerto Rico’s government and US federal agencies are failing to hold pharma polluters accountable. Environmental racism often persists in Puerto Rico in the name of profits. Lax regulations, inadequate environmental cleanups, and government complicity with the pharmaceutical sector contribute to this ongoing problem. While pharma touts its commitment to human rights, carbon neutrality and renewable power grids, in reality, “corporate greenwashing” hides the full extent of the environmental devastation they cause in local communities. The report’s findings highlight the urgent need for policymakers to investigate the pharmaceutical sector’s environmental degradation in Puerto Rico while holding bad actors accountable through strengthened regulations and oversight measures.