Diane Wilson sitting in a coffin blocking entrance to USACOE in Galveston
By: Chase Rodgers, Victoria Texas Advocate
Diane Wilson, bonded out of jail on Thursday, May 13, 2021, after she was arrested during a demonstration against the scheduled dredging of Matagorda Bay in coastal Texas. Police arrested Wilson, Wednesday afternoon by pulling her away from a boat and a black coffin, she and others protestors had placed in the roadway, blocking the entrance to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) office in Galveston, Texas. Galveston police arrested Wilson and a second activist, Annette Wright, charging them with obstructing a highway or passageway, according to Galveston police public information officer. Wilson was with a group of supporters asking the Corps to halt the proposed channelization of the bay to allow big tankers to reach a proposed crude oil export facility to be owned by Max Midstream, an oil pipeline company at Port Comfort at the head of the bay. Wilson says dredging will stir up mercury in the bay’s sediment and cause further harm to the local fishing industry, including a new effort to organize a fishing cooperative in the area. The mercury was deposited in the bay by Alcoa Aluminum which operated a plant from 1965 to 1981 and discharged inorganic waste water into the bay, according to EPA. The EPA has designated the area as a Superfund site. Wilson has been on a hunger strike since April 7 to dramatize as a Superfund site opposition to the proposed dredging. After her arrest and release, Wilson ended her 36-day hunger strike pledging to continue working to stop the dredging. The Matagorda Bay Foundation and others have written a detailed letter to the Corps requesting reconsideration of the dredging project and citing problems with a rushed Environmental Impact Statement in the waning days of the Trump Administration. The Corps in an official statement said the project was approved by Col. Timothy Vail, Commander of the Galveston District in 2019 and meets all “Federal environmental laws and compliances” and is in the pre-construction engineering phase, with a December 2021 starting date. The demonstration, Wilson said was to spark a dialogue with Vial who had not responded to requests for a meeting. The activists are asking that Vail and others in the USACOE chain of command, consider a supplemental environmental impact report be conducted and that the Corps revoke their approval of the project.