Article

**UPDATED** WATER ON THE BRAIN: ICE, RIVER, and INTERPRINT

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.

How dumb do you have to be?

(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:

Another reason not to stuff a porcine craw with Twinkies.

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].

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(2) READING, WRITIN’, ‘RITHMATIC, & RAVAGING THE RIVER

What a pretty shade of red!

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.

You wouldn't have to be Jesus to walk on this water. Pity the poor 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!”

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(3) WITHER, RICHMOND POND, SHORES, AND THE SKIES ABOVE THEM?

Interprint's new facility: Almost five years without a permit.

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.

What are the environmental effects of printing presses and other equipment?

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?

COUNCIL PRESIDENT GERRY LEE: So, Mr. Lee, since you represent the 11 councilors who represent the entire city, have you no comment to make about Interprint and its years of operation and dirtying the air of your beloved city? Please, The People want to know.

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.

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UPDATE

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.

14 Responses to “**UPDATED** WATER ON THE BRAIN: ICE, RIVER, and INTERPRINT”

  1. Wondering
    December 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I dont recall seeing anything about the School boilers in the paper and the fine. If I recall the chemical world mirrors nature, bright neon colors, go ahead mess with it bad stuff’s a going to happen. Im guessing that means dont pour it into the river. What does it say if they thought it went to the sewage treatment plant? im certain at some point from there it goes into a river, lake or someplace. I mean with all the crap, bull and otherwise that comes from parts of the City; storage tanks aint an option.
    Heres a suggestion to the School Crew read the label, yes the people you work for the Government mandates that pages of documentation are stuffed into the box, printed on the jug or barrel and given to the end user. Yup you cant get an asprin from a bottle without the original manuscript from gone with the wind stuffed in the bottle. I sure would guess that caustic cleaners would have it. Which begs more questions…
    In the EPA enviroment area Blogs 3 Daily 0

  2. Swami
    December 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    6th grade social studies:
    Warning colors are found throughout nature: the bumblebee, the skunk, the cuddle fish, the coral snake, These animal’s bright colors stand out against their environment demanding attention and declaring to predators that they’re poisonous and they better think twice about eating them. So, it’s no wonder that when we want to get people’s attention and warn them about certain perils we use the same high contrast, highly visible, conspicuous color palettes that are often found in nature.

    • danvalenti
      December 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

      Day-Glo liquid? Not good to pour into ANY drain.

  3. Joe Pinhead
    December 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Once again great posting, I like the approach, Cant wait to see the reaction. wasnt this once home to a great humorist?
    Didnt we just clean up the river I recall something going on down there for about 10 years or so. has there been any action taken by the Schools for the action of their employees while performing there official duties? In a school boiler room isnt there alarms? I work in the healthcare field we are mandated by law to have alarms on our drains to ensure that no improper levels of the chemicals commonly used go to the sewage treatment plant via the drain

    • danvalenti
      December 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

      JOE
      I have have not heard of the city taking any action. Apparently, it’s nobody’s fault. The sludge just walked over to the drain by itself and slipped down. No accountability, apparently.

      • Joe Pinhead
        December 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

        After all that cleanup effort and resources expended I wonder if there are ongoing monitoring stations along the housey and if so did any of them pick up anything?
        More Importantly has the school written a procedure, vetted it and ensured the staff understands it? just a guess but i bet the boiler will need to be cleaned again.. Will someone from the school department who is not on this site please post a link to the MSDS that is required by law to have so we can see what was poured down the drain?

  4. Life is But a ...What?
    December 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Hoo boy. City janitors flush drano into the Housatonic R., city tries to hush it up, and once again the Green police have to hammer a pittsfield based business (Interprint now the school dept). This wasnt in the local daily rag-and-bird-cage-liner. Havent heard anyone from the city address this or admit to this neon spill. Its great having sites like this doing some real reporting and I mean that to those boot lickers who got a problem when bloggers. Dan got it right The public as in taxpayers have to eat this one.

  5. danvalenti
    December 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I can’t speculate why the Eagle or any other media outlet covers and doesn’t cover stories. I can only speak of what I do. It is interesting, though, that THE PLANET, with our meager resources, can unearth two major environmental stories in three days, both of which all the mainstream media either missed or ignored. Thanks for you comment. Welcome to THE PLANET. We love new posters.

  6. just saying
    December 11, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Mr. Kratka has spoken of the boiler chemicals in the river since it happened. 1420 AM. I’m not saying you haven’t brought it to a new level Dan. But its not like it was a secret or something.

    • danvalenti
      December 11, 2010 at 10:33 am #

      Kudos to my good friend LK. Thanks, just saying!

  7. SALTY
    December 11, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    If I live up to my screen name I should say Holy S… Neon water cuz of a school department error, neon air becaise of Interprint, I wonder: how strong is neon ice when you drive a truck on it? What ta heck’s going in in this city?

  8. Joe Pinhead
    December 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    So Mr. Ward answers back via e-mail and says “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.”

    This some 5 months after cutting the funding to monitor the landfills. Mr Collingwood did explain that monitoring was required by law however due to budget cuts DEP was not paying close attention. Nice work there Mr Ward and they say this web site is about “opportunism” Word to the wise and Mr Ward is the wise; ask him he will tell you how smart he is at every turn. Your actions can be matched against your words. would you like to see the minutes, or the video of Mr Collingwoods presentation? For your viewing pleasure full meeting available on PCTV website hurry though that archive might have technical issues before long..

    http://thebeatnews.org/thoughts/2010/06/20/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/#more-836

  9. Bruce Winn
    December 26, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    BEAT (Berkshire Environmental Action Team) received an email and photo from a friend at i-Berkshires. A citizen had sent them the email showing the neon green goo going into the river. We grabbed our camera, jumped into the car and went to the site. We contacted the city and reported the violation to DEP as I described on our website. What’s interesting to me is how often environmental violations get turned in to us instead of to regulatory agencies. We are a nonprofit environmental organization. So many times people tell us they believe that violations will be swept under the rug if reported using official channels. The problem is much bigger than the school department.

    • danvalenti
      December 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

      BRUCE
      Great job by BEAT to brings this out. People go to you instead of the authorities because they know then authorities will most likely (a) try to cover it up and (b) ignore or discredit the people who report harm to the environment. It’s still amazing to me that there have been no consequences or no review, that we know of, as the result of the Green Goo sump by school department employees. Keep up the good work, and remember this website when you want to bring sunshine to what “THEY” want to keep hidden.