2008-11-21 / Letters

My Toxic Meeting Recap

Dear Editor,

It is, indeed, unfathomable that only perhaps 100 people from the community attended the last meeting about the remediation of our local toxic waste site when the implications of the project may well be hazardous to your health. Time and time again at the meeting the DEC spokesman was asked to make the cleanup safer and more community friendly. He did not give an inch.

Residents might be familiar with the names of chemicals contained in the site, but, how about the diseases these chemicals can cause when exposed to the air? Cyanide, the most prevalent chemical, when airborne, can cause a number of different cancers, respiratory ailments, kidney ailments, skin and eye irritations, asthma, and type 2 Diabetes. The list of chemicals and their effects is considerable. And according to a recent news article, children until the age of sixteen and senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to the afore-mentioned diseases.

Neighbors, there will be a minimum of 9000 trucks going though our neighborhood during this scheduled 14 month digging operation. The pollution from the diesel engines emitted from the trucks is more than enough to cause respiratory illnesses. But, add to that, the chemicals contained in but not sealed in each truckload of toxic waste means we have a huge problem.

Think of the ground on the toxic site as having a skin. Once this skin is pierced, the toxins become airborne. The site of the digging will be tented, air purified and the entire site will be monitored for poisons. The tent and air purifier will be moved to a new area as each area is dug down to eight feet exposing the prior area to the air. Oh, surely the old area will be back-filled. However, it will not be sealed until the completion of the project leaving us to breathe those chemicals that are emitted into the air for as many as 14 months or for the rest of our lives.

Now you know just how important this project is to the health of every member of our community. What should we do about it? It seems that the manner in which the site is going to be remediated is antiquated much like using a typewriter when computers can perform the task of a typewriter and more. What we want, then, is more modern technology that will remediate the toxins on-site, eliminating the 9,000 trucks and exposing our residents to as little airborne poison as possible. Sadly, the health and needs of the community were apparently not taken into consideration by National Grid and the Department of Environmental Conservation with regard to their 14 month dig and their 9,000 truck transports.

Surely, community residents would like to have our toxic waste site cleaned up; but at what cost? We cannot let this project as proposed by National Grid and the D.E.C. go forward as written. If there is not a more community minded way of cleaning up the site than the one that is being shoved down our throats, then we must let our voices be heard in postponing the project until a safer, healthier method of extracting toxins from the soil is available. Postponing the cleanup is not devastating. After all, those poisons have been in the ground for, at least, a half of a century and can stay a while longer until the general health of our youngest and oldest residents is not compromised.

Our community is generally complacent about anything that isn't sports related. Let this letter serve a shot across the bow of our residents. Attending meetings where the health of your children and their grandparents is at stake should really be a priority. The consequences of inaction could be catastrophic. Attend the next meeting. Contact local politicians and voice your outrage. They must find a better and safer way. If not, the project must be postponed until they do. The ball is in your court.

JOAN METTLER

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