On June 1, 2011, Global Exchange hosted it's 9th Annual Human Rights Awards in San Francisco, CA.
Domestic Honoree Wilma Subra continues to put her invaluable expertise as an environmental chemist to work for those most harmed by the petrochemical industry. She formed the Subra Company in 1981 to provide testing and knowledge on behalf of Louisiana residents in the fight to protect their lives and livelihoods. Bringing her expertise in chemistry and microbiology to bear, Wilma provides scientific evidence for communities to back up their claims when it comes time to go toe to toe with corporate criminals.
Wilma has worked with communities impacted by natural gas drilling in Texas and Wyoming, has helped communities living near polluted shipyards in San Francisco and covered the potential impacts of importing Italian nuclear waste through New Orleans. She has trained people in rural areas in techniques for monitoring the health of the communities in which they live — gathering data on air quality and the impact of harmful emissions.
In 1999, she received a MacArthur Genius Grant for her work protecting communities, and she served as vice-chair of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). In every capacity, at every turn, she has used her expertise and quiet diligence to help communities in need and spread the word about industry abuses.
Following the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig, Wilma has been on the frontlines of the struggle for truth. BP has consistently claimed that there is no more danger, but Wilma has been relentless in exposing the disastrous reality: oil coating the bottom of the ocean, oil continuing to wash up on shore and oil destroying the life cycles of countless organisms. The challenge of responding to the Gulf oil spill is massive, but Wilma is undeterred. She will continue as she has for the past thirty years: putting her expertise to work, battling a toxic industry with public good.
Watch a video of Ms Subra's work here: vimeo.com/25380784
She is also featured in the stirring book, Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill, published in April 2011.