BY DAN VALENTI
Water, water everywhere, and today, my good friends, the H2O flows freely. Drinks are on THE PLANET.
Specifically, water turns up three times in our latest episode of “As Pittsfield Turns”: (1) An ice warning from the Pittsfield Police and Fire departments, (2) another “company” fined by environmental authorities for polluting the Housatonic River (you’ll be shocked to find out who!!), and (3) The imperiled water near (and the air above) Interprint.
(1) You Think Them Dumb Bastards Would Know Enough [THE PLANET's COMMENTS ARE IN BRACKETS AND WERE NOT PART OF THE ORIGINAL CITY PRESS RELEASE]
The Pittsfield Police Department has issued a statement reminding “everyone that just because there is ice covering many ponds and lakes, it is still not safe enough to support any type of winter activities [Translation: "Hey, Redneck — Don't even think about it"]. The Pittsfield Fire Department strongly suggests that you stay off of any ice-covered body of water for a few more weeks to ensure its thickness and strength.
The Pittsfield Fire Department has already had a few reports of people venturing onto Pontoosuc Lakeover the past few days [They have to issue this "no shit" warning as a public service, because they know that at least one "genius" will try this weekend to drive his Ford F-250 onto the ice. Thus, we quote Main Stooge Moe Howard: "Don't be an imbecile, you moron!"] Please review the following information in order to decide if the ice is safe enough to support your intended winter activities:
Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. Thickness can vary within a very short distance. Be careful of border ice that forms on shallow water along the shoreline. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use [Translation: You musclehead, haven't you ever made ice cubes before, or did you lose the recipe"?] New, clear ice is usually the strongest [The city writer has impressed THE PLANET here for the comma that separates coordinate adjectives!]. The recommended minimum ice thickness for new, clear, hard ice is as follows:
3” (7 cm) or less: STAY OFF [Unless you are seriously anorexic, on a hunger strike, or Don Knotts]
4” (10 cm): ice fishing, walking, cross-country skiing, skating
5” (12 cm): one snowmobile or ATV [You must be a redneck if you pick up your hot date in a snowmobile or ATV]
8-12” (20-30 cm): one car or small pickup
12-15” (30-38 cm): one medium truck (pickup or van) [The centimeters are for anyone with an IQ over 25 who might think of driving a loaded 18-wheeler onto Pontoosuc.]
Beware of snow covered ice. Snow will hide cracks, faults and weak ice [Another "crack" problem in Pittsfield]. Slush is a danger sign, indicating deterioration [including City Hall "slush funds"].
Never go onto ice alone [unless you are a Justin Bieber fan].
A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Always keep pets leashed. Children should always be supervised [unless, you know, you want to "lose" the little monsters].
Stay off river ice and avoid the narrows between lakes.
River currents, springs and moving water at the narrows where one lake flows into another can quickly change ice thickness or have much thinner ice than other locations on the river or on the lake.
If someone falls through the ice: Try not to panic. Call 911. [Then tell the person flailing in the water to kiss their ass goodbye]. Do not go onto the ice [unless you are really, REALLY stoopit]. Throw or extend an object to victim [preferably not another person]. If alone, turn toward direction from which you came and place arms on ice while kicking feet [the temper tantrum will convey to the person in the water that you are sad over their impending death]. Once out do not stand. Roll and crawl back to solid ice [Do this on a local dance floor and win a hundred dollars].
(2) READING, WRITIN’, ‘RITHMATIC, & RAVAGING THE RIVER
Congratulations to Bruce Winn of the blog BEAT’s BLOG (www.thebeatnews.org) for breaking and iBerkshires the follow up to an egregious story of river pollution. The culprits in this case: Staff at Pittsfield High School (yes, the same PHS that the taxpayers fund as part of a mega-million-dollar legalized ponzi scheme). The National Enquirer headline: CITY SCHOOL IN SERIAL KILLING — HITLER SPOTTED ON HOUSY CANOE
Winn reported on Dec. 1 that the “green goo” dumped into the Housatonic River not long ago turned out to be 4,700 gallons of cleaning fluid used to give the PHS boilers a bath. That’s the amount of toxic goo that went into a floor drain, where it caught a cab to the storm drain, and then hijacked a B-Bus straight into the Housy.
The school staffers thought the drain emptied into the city sewer system. Brilliant thought, only it didn’t. This raises lots of questions about proper training. After the workers got caught in their ignorance-based-on-assumption, the city of Pittsfield, according to Winn, filed a report with the DEP that can be roughly translated as: “Take our word for it. The fluid sent into the river was as pure as Perrier water. In fact we were so sure this water was clean that we loaded it into the glasses of each city councilor at the last meeting. No, the mayor did not drink water that night, but that was merely a coincidence.”
Fortunately, the state Environmental Protection Agency didn’t take the city’s word. It investigated and determined that either the city was totally clueless (benign explanation) or trying to pull a fast one over a serious environmental crime (the not-so-benign explanation). The EPA fined you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, $6,325. Assuming a population of 39,000, the city owes each person $6.16 ($24.64 for a household of four). That will help ease the recent almost-5% tax hike the council and the mayor just gave you for Christmas.
Winn writes, “When will the city recognize, appreciate, and value the river?” We dare not quote The Divine Edgar: “Nevermore!”
(3) WITHER, RICHMOND POND, SHORES, AND THE SKIES ABOVE THEM?
THE PLANET broke the story on this website. iBerkshires followed up. The bloggers clobbered the Boring Broadsheet, also known as The Berkshire Eagle. We refer to the U.S. EPA decision to fine Pittsfield-printing-company Interprint a sum that could reach as high as $385,000. That’s not chump change.
Interprint is located near the Richmond line on Rt. 41. It is close to Richmond Pond, Camp Russell, the residential enclave of Richmond Shores, and a lot of homes (including the mansion of Gov. Deval Patrick). How many TONS of toxins did model corporate citizen Interprint release into the atmosphere in the time since its “new” facility went online and now? That’s almost five years.
We don’t know the answer, of course, because the company was operating in defiance of the federal Clean Air Act and other “green” provisions. Interprint, the EPA ruled, never bothered to obtain the proper permits. For all we know, it could have been releasing pure cyanide … or Perrier water (no, THE PLANT does not have stock in Perrier; We just like the name. It reminds us of “Perry White”).
What were the effects on people’s health? We don’t know. How much of the stuff bonded with atmospheric molecules and came down upon Pittsfield as toxic rain? We don’t know.
Why did it take the Berkshire Eagle so long to print the story? We don’t know that, as well. This is just a question and not an assertion: Is it because Interprint is “locally connected”? It would have anything to do with politics or advertising, would it? Is it because the company received special treatment (is it a sacred cow at Clock Tower)? If so (and we only say if), does that make the city (i.e., the bedraggled taxpayers, again) liable in any way for the non-compliance?
Funny, no one thought of all this when the plant was going up. No one — from the German-owned Interprint to the state officials who grated tax credits to the City of Pittsfield that helped the company lobby state government — thought that they might, uh, need permits because of the toxins produced in the company’s operations. Not one of these people, who were sophisticated enough to wheedle money out of taxpayers pockets, apparently knew that — gosh — we need permits before we poison Mother Nature.
We the People, of course, trusted that our public officials would act responsibly. My, how naive can we get?
God help us all. And God, thank you for the clean air we breath and the clean water we drink.
YESTERDAY, THE PLANET SENT E-MAILS TO ALL 11 CITY COUNCILORS AND MAYOR RUBERTO, SEEKING COMMENT ON THE INTERPRINT SITUATION. ONLY WARD 4 COUNCILOR MIKE WARD AND COUNCILOR-AT-LARGE KEVIN SHERMAN RESPONDED. WARD SAID: “I’m glad to read that Interprint is now operating in a clean manner but I’m disappointed that there was no mechanism to verify compliance before they launched. And despite the popularity of railing against “big government” and “over regulation” we continue to see reasons why the Clean Air Act and the Wetlands Protection Act weren’t such bad ideas after all.”
SHERMAN WROTE: “I don’t have any comment about the EPA’s decision regarding Interprint. I have not talked to any of the interested parties and would be speculating at best at this time. Regarding the EPA, my focus has been on their approach to the Rest of the River cleanup of the Housy.”
WE THANK WARD AND SHERMAN FOR THE COURTESY OF A REPLY AND FOR RECOGNIZING THEIR DUTY AS REPRESENTATIVES TO BE RESPONSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC VIA THE PRESS.
THE SILENCE OF EVERYBODY ELSE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. ONE WOULD THINK, THOUGH, THAT COUNCIL PRESIDENT MR. LEE WOULD AT LEAST CUT HIS VISIT TO THE AMERICAN LEGION BAR (OR WHEREVER ELSE HE GOES WHEN NOT PRESIDING OVER THE AUGUST BODY) TO LET THE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT THE INTERPRINT MATTER.
WHEN THE E-MAIL DOESN’T SHOW UP, I’LL KNOW IT’S LEE NOT RESPONDING.