Friday, March 25, 2005

Topic: The Housatonic River.

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3 Comments:

Blogger pfennell said...

Anyone used to be able to walk on water in the berkshires, now only Jesus can.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

RE: Pittsfield is placing PCBs into the FUTURE!

Dear Berkshire Eagle, News Media, Pols, & the People:

BAND AID SOLUTIONS! That is what the City of Pittsfield, the EPA, & the GE have all agreed to when the then Alcoholic Pittsfield Mayor, Gerry Doyle, the then corrupt EPA Regional Director, who subsequently took a plum private sector job, and the then CEO of GE, Jack Welch, who was the token trophy boy of the corporate elite on Wall Street, but the "Potter" hatchet-man to the working class common man on Main Street, provided in the Consent Decree mandating the cleaning up of PCB pollution areas in and around Pittsfield, Massachusetts in order to avoid the onerous consequences of an ineffective and bureaucratic Superfund site status.

A great majority of the PCB pollution in Pittsfield has NOT been cleaned up, but rather, it has been capped. What does that mean? That means that the City of Pittsfield, the EPA and GE all agreed to clean up the really contaminated areas of very high levels of PCB pollution, and to cap the remaining areas. The problem is that caps last only 25 years and then the entire process has to begin all over again. This means that once the caps tear and otherwise lose their effectiveness, all of the PCB pollution in Pittsfield will once again spread into the environment and cause people to contract CANCER in Pittsfield, all the way down through southern Berkshire County, and further down through the State of Connecticut until the flowing water flushes into the Long Island Sound.

The kicker is that under the consent decree, GE has to pay all of the current costs of the clean up of the PCB pollution in and around Pittsfield, but in a mere 2 decades when this contamination has to be cleaned up and capped all over again, GE may not be liable to pay for the clean up at that point in time.

So what may happen in or around the year 2025 - 2035?

The answer may very well be that there will be no funding other than a futuristic modern version of the EPA's Superfund to pay for the clean up of PCB pollution in and around Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The people living in and south of Pittsfield will be at risk of contracting CANCER like the people have been for the past 60 years, including my mother, who grew up in Pittsfield and had CANCER in 1990 and 2006. In the future, the City of Pittsfield won't have the money to clean up the PCBs, GE will have completed its obligations under the consent decree, and the EPA will take decades to truly clean up the PCB contamination, which will mean that from 2025 - about 2045, the people will once again be exposed to PCB pollution and thereby be at high risk of contracting cancer like their predecessor generations.

The Berkshire Eagle is unconscionable for headlining a portion of the PCB clean up under the band aid Consent Decree as "Placing PCBs in past: Opening completes a major portion of the cleanup", when in reality the Eagle headline should have been:

"Pittsfield is placing PCBs into the FUTURE!: Opening defers a major portion of the cleanup for another 20 to 40 years".

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

------

Fred Garner Park

Placing PCBs in past
Opening completes a major portion of the cleanup

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, June 07, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Nearly 2 1/ 2 years and $83 million later, Fred Garner Park reopened yesterday, the symbolic end to a major stage of the PCB cleanup in the Housatonic River.

An audience of environmentalists and local, state and federal officials gathered on a chilly morning to rededicate the Pomeroy Avenue park that had been closed since February 2005. The trunks of the newly planted trees were still surrounded by protective cages, a smooth sheet of green grass looked untouched, and the riverbanks were sterile and whitewashed under a cover of newly placed gravel.

But the trees will grow, the grass will become a soccer field, and the undercover will return to the riverbanks, said Robert Varney, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England office.

"Just as Pittsfield children will soon be scoring goals in this rejuvenated park, I am proud that EPA, the state and the community have reached another milestone in our efforts to ensure a cleaner environment for the citizens of this community," he said.

The EPA and General Electric Co. have finished dredging the first two miles of the Housatonic, removing PCBs that spilled, leaked or were dumped into the river during decades of transformer manufacturing at GE's Morningside plant.

The company used PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, until 1977, when the federal government banned their use. The chemical is deemed a probable cause of cancer in people, and studies have tied it to developmental disabilities in children exposed to relatively low levels during fetal development.

Under the terms of a cleanup settlement, GE began dredging the river in 1999, removing contaminated sediment and bank soil from the first half mile. The EPA took over in 2002 and removed PCBs from the next 1 1/ 2 miles of river at a total cost of $83 million. For part of that cleanup, Garner Park became home to a water treatment plant and was a staging area for clean dirt and rocks.

The heavy equipment is long gone. A grass field has been replanted, the driveway has been repaved, and a new canoe launch was installed.

Stephen Ramsey, GE's vice president for environmental programs, said the cleanup and the park are evidence of the good that can come from public-private partnerships.

"It's a good day to think about all we have accomplished and all we can do together," he said.

Mayor James M. Ruberto agreed, adding that the cleanup is improving the city. "Government must be engaged with each and every group and party in order to ... make a community a better place to live."

The consent decree that governs the cleanup required GE to bear the full cost of the half-mile dredging; the company has never released that price tag. GE and EPA shared the cost of the 1 1/ 2-mile work.

The next stage of the cleanup will extend south of Garner Park, though how much farther remains undecided. By the end of the year, the EPA is expected to announce which stretches of the river must be cleaned and by what method. That cleanup could extend 10 miles to Woods Pond in Lenox, 28 miles to Rising Pond in Great Barrington, or even farther, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, all to be borne by GE.

The settlement gives GE the right to challenge the EPA's cleanup decision in federal court. Asked yesterday whether the company anticipates an appeal, Ramsey said GE will wait and see what the decision is. "We may agree with part, we may agree with all," he said.

If there is a "difference of opinion," he added, "it will be principled, it will be over technical issues and, hopefully, it will be able to be resolved.

"I think the big lesson in the Pittsfield negotiations is ... that if people sit down at the table and spend the time and the effort, you can generally find a way to resolve the differences between us," he said.

In cutting the ribbon on the new park, Ruberto also rededicated it to Fred Garner, who worked in the city's park system for more than 30 years. Members of Garner's family were in attendance.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Eagle!

What is wrong with you? The issue of pollution focuses on HUMAN LIFE! The Consent Decree is an abomination! The PCB pollution that GE left behind in Pittsfield will kill people from in and around the Pittsfield area, down through southern Berkshire County, and down through the state of Connecticut. PCB pollution causes CANCER! Your editorial is WRONG about Pittsfield being reclaimed, but not yet the areas south of Pittsfield down to the Long Island Sound. The Eagle is wrong because the consent decree did NOT clean up -- in whole -- the PCB pollution in Pittsfield, but rather cleaned the really hazardous areas while capping a majority of the other areas of pollution. The reclaimation of Pittsfield is only for about the next two (2) decades because capping pollution is a BAND AID or short term solution to the problems of PCB pollution. The PCB caps tear, leak and become ineffective and defeat the purpose after approximately 25 years or less from when they are put into place. After the caps become ineffective, the PCB pollution will spread and cause cancer in thousands of local people. Most of Pittsfield's toxic sites of PCB pollution will have to be re-capped, and the consent decree does not cover who will be liable for this expensive future project. Moreover, as Rinaldo Del Gallo III and others have pointed out, more and more sites of PCB pollution have been found in Pittsfield since the consent decree was signed, implemented and administered. The consent decree does not cover these issues either. The local residents living in the southern stream of PCB pollution from Pittsfield's consent decree should be incensed by the shortcomings of the consent decree signed by a former Alcoholic Mayor, Gerry Doyle, a slick corporate elite former GE CEO, Jack Welch, and a former EPA Regional Administrator who immediately went on to take a plum private sector position, John DeVillars. Pittsfield is still at health risks from PCB pollution, and areas of southern Berkshire County and the state of Connecticut have always been at health risks due to the shortcomings of the consent decree. The bottom line is that thousands of people are still at great health risks, including contracting CANCER, from Pittsfield's PCB pollution problem. What ashame, indeed!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle
-----

Rebirth of Fred Garner park

Editorial

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Consent Decree with General Electric was controversial when it was signed and remains so, but the rededication of the Fred Garner Park on Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield testifies to the decree's strengths. Closed in 2005, the park named after a man who worked in the city's parks for more than three decades disappeared under dirt and rocks and a water treatment plant as the Housatonic River underwent major surgery to clean it of PCBs. Today it is a park again, covered by a new layer of grass and adorned by freshly planted trees. The reborn park also represents the city's rebirth as it moves beyond GE and PCBs into an uncertain but promising future. There is a lot of river yet to be cleaned through south Berkshire into Connecticut, and areas of disagreement between GE and the Environmental Protection Agency as to how that should be done are sure to emerge. Garner Park, along with other reclaimed sites around Pittsfield, show what can be accomplished.

Monday, June 11, 2007 5:29:00 PM  

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