Article

WHY POLLUTION AND PCBs SHOULD — and MUST be — a PREDOMINANT ISSUE, or A SMORGASBORD of PLANET RESEARCH

BY DAN VALENTI

The poisoning of Pittsfield by General Electric ranks among the great socially sanctioned “crimes” in U.S. history. Of course, little if any of the process was against the law, and “crime” is nothing but a legal concept varying among cultures. In Pittsfield, GE manufactured transformers, electrical equipment, plastics, and other products in an industrial environment that required the use of chemicals.

In conducting its operations, GE massively polluted Pittsfield and essentially was allowed to walk away from the consequences. It paid the city $10 million in lieu of taxes and paid for a ½-mile cleanup of the Housatonic River adjacent to its former campus between East and Newell streets. Meanwhile, the city’s population went from 60,000 to 40,000, the tax base dwindled, property taxes skyrocketed, the city got older, and countless acres were left poisoned.

These harsh realities make the current and urgent debate on PCBs perhaps the single-most important issue facing the city and county, particularly the towns downstream on the Housatonic. It should be and must be a dominant issue in Campaign 2011.

GE PITTSFIELD, back in the day.

While the Boring Broadsheet and 1Berkshire seem content to shill for GE (in 1Berkshire’s case, after taking $300,000 of GE money), ordinary citizens are more and more waking up to the gravity of their plight. There is anger but not irrationality, at this point, anyway.

Two outstanding facts need repeating: (a) the Consent Decree can be reopened and renegotiated, and (b) There is no procedural limitations of which this writer is aware that would prevent the City of Pittsfield and/or a group of citizens from initiating actions demanding more redress from the company.

What Goes In Doesn’t Always Come Out: & It’s Not Just PCBs

As all input-output systems, manufacturing behaves on a plus-sum basis. The ingredients that go into the process always exceed what comes out. Manufacturing leaves residue and waste. It also employs ingredients that damage the environment and human health.

During its century of presence in the city of Pittsfield, General Electric utilized or produced gargantuan and unmeasured amounts of these chemicals, solvents, greases, oil, lubricants, metals, materials, and the like. The notorious Hill 78, which stands 45 feet high, began life as a ravine. GE began to fill the five-acre concavity with a devils’ list of industrial waste, things like or similar to:

Ammonia, boron trichloride, formaldehyde, fluoride, phosgene, hydrogen bromide, hydrogen chloride, chlorine, nitric acid, sulfur oxide, and sulfuric acid, as well as systemic poisons along the lines of arsine, boron trifluoride, dibroane, ethylene oxide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, cyanide, tungsten hexafluoride, arolein, nitrogen dioxide, ethylene dibromide, phosphine, hydrazines, carbon monoxide, methyl bromide, methyl isocyanate, stibine, arsenic trichloride, bromine, nitric oxide, parathion, tetraethyl lead, and toulene 2,4 disocyanate. (Source: “Toxic Industrial Chemicals — Chemical Warfare Without Chemical Weapons.” FABAD Journal of Pharm. Science, 31, 220-229, 2006) fabad.org/fabad.org/pdf/volum31/issue4/220-229.pdf

Hill 78: An Affront to Morality and a Monument to Gutlessness

Allendale School, 50 feet from Hill 78. What were they thinking? More important, what are they STILL thinking?As for PCBs, GE removed them from a two-mile stretch of the Housatonic (paying only for the first half-mile). Much of the contamination was hauled to Hill 78, within 50 yards of a grammar school. State law prohibits solid-waste dumps to within 1,000 feet of a school, yet it’s somehow OK to have a literal mountain of toxicity next to schoolchildren.

* Ask yourself: How and why did the city of Pittsfield allow this?

* Why are city officials and community leaders apparently still content with Hill 78?

* Why isn’t the mayor and 11 members of the city council — in conjunction with other community leaders — unified in demanding the removal or remediation of Hill 78?

* Why the complacency?

* What does it say about a city whose officials allow a five-acre, 45-foot tall mountain of toxicity anywhere in its borders, much less next to a school.

  • Do these people love pollution? That doesn’t seem reasonable.
  • Have bribes of one sort of another been given? We don’t know, but it would seem more reasonable.
  • Do these people fear a confrontation with GE? If so, is the fear reasonable?

There are six ways to release toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) into the environment:

1. Unintentional operational release — Accidents of manufacturing

2. Intentional operational release — Known byproducts of manufacturing

3. Industrial accidents

4. Transportation accidents

5. Deliberate hostile action — Chemical warfare, for example, or terrorist attack

6. Natural disaster

In General Electric’s near-century as a manufacturing giant in Pittsfield, #2 was by far the manner in which the local environment was poisoned. Whether the substance was PCBs or other TICs, the company knew what it was doing and, since usually no law explicitly prohibited it the action, it had no qualms about doing it.

You didn’t need scientific testing to know that how badly GE polluted Silver Lake. You didn’t need data to realize that bubbling, oil-like oozes from vacant lots shouldn’t be happening as a “normal” act of nature. You didn’t have to have an air-monitoring device to realize that the sweet-sick air around the GE plant in was not the smell of pure Mother Nature.

Here’s a quote from the article “TICs — Chemical Warfare Without Chemical Weapons” (link above) — “If TICs enter into the environment in large amounts, they will pose a substantial threat to both civil and military forces and may cause large-scale human losses and economic damage.”

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Umbilical Exchange: Not Even the Womb is Safe

The following link brings you to an eye-opening article The Planet shares for the purposes of information and education. It reports on the testing of in utero babies for industrial toxins:

scienceinthetriangle.org/…/10-americans-industrial-toxins-found-in-umbilical -cord-blood/ -

The essay contains this excerpt:

The 10 babies couldn’t have inhaled, digested or absorbed the chemicals by being exposed to them in the air, water, food or personal care products. Their exposure was in the womb, where no blood brain barrier protected their developing brains.

The test results showed that the 10 cord blood samples contained:

287 toxins and chemical pollutants, 200 on average per sample.

28 waste products, such as dioxins and furans, chemicals that come out of smoke stacks.

47 consumer product ingredients, such as flame retardants from furniture and clothing, teflon chemicals and pesticides.

212 industrial chemicals and breakdown products from pesticides that have been banned for 30 years or longer.

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Check Out Harper’s Magazine, December 2010 Issue

Our investigations and research also turned up this article from the December 2010 issue of Harper’s Magazine: “GE Superfraud.” Page 50-51 has a sobering section on the PCB poisoning of Pittsfield.

susanwides.com/…/Click%20to%20view%20full%20article%20Harpers- Dec09.pdf

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PITTSFIELD: Famous for the Wrong Reasons

Even cursory research shows that Pittsfield is famous the world over for its toxicity. Check out this article:

www.newworldorderreport.com/…/13-toxins-and-poisons-in-your- environment-These-are-things-everyone-should-know-about.aspx

Here is an excerpt (one of the 13 toxins is PCBs):

13 Toxins and poisons in your environment.

Large-scale environmental contamination events

United States

Massachusetts

Pittsfield is one of GE’s hometowns. Pittsfield was home to GE’s transformer and capacitor divisions, and electrical generating equipment built and repaired in Pittsfield powered the electrical utility grid throughout the nation.

PCB-contaminated oil routinely migrated from GE’s 250-acre industrial plant located in the very center of the city to the surrounding groundwater, nearby Silver Lake, and to the Housatonic River, which flows through Massachusetts to Connecticut on down to the Long Island Sound. Faced with ever mounting amounts of PCB-contaminated material, and with a growing need to dispose of this material, GE and its contractors hauled and dumped PCB-contaminated material anywhere they could. They still had too much. So GE in the 1940s and 50s launched a giveaway program. GE employees and their neighbors and local contractors, in return for signing a letter stating that they were receiving clean fill and that they would not hold GE liable for any subsequent problems, were given truckloads of PCB-contaminated material to use as fill in their backyards and construction projects.

The sheer magnitude and varied scope of this contamination has made the Pittsfield/Housatonic Site one of America’s most complicated PCB sites.

————————————————–

Where is the instrument that can measure the decades of sadness and heartache that the city had endured because of GE’s callousness toward its people and environment? Who can construct a scale to weigh the hurt for generations to come if this situation is not, once and for all, confronted?

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THAT’S ALL TODAY. TOMORROW, WE PRESENT A BOOK REVIEW FROM A FABULOUSLY TALENTED GUEST WRITER, P. J. KOCAK. BACK LATER. LOVE TO ALL.

25 Responses to “WHY POLLUTION AND PCBs SHOULD — and MUST be — a PREDOMINANT ISSUE, or A SMORGASBORD of PLANET RESEARCH”

  1. Still wondering
    March 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Will Pittsfield ever recover from “the good old days”?

  2. Senator
    March 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Sen. wants Hill 78 cleared
    Nuciforo troubled by PCB dump

    By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
    Berkshire Eagle

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    PITTSFIELD — State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. yesterday called for the removal of a toxic landfill that sits next to a city elementary school. He is the first elected official to seek the elimination of the controversial site.

    Nuciforo said state and federal regulators should work with General Electric to remove the dump known as Hill 78, where PCB-tainted soil and debris from the dredged Housatonic River and the polluted GE plant are being consolidated.

    The 5.6-acre landfill sits about 50 feet from Allendale Elementary School and has been met with growing concern from the school community and nearby residents.

    “I don’t think it will be easy, and I’m sure that GE will resist,” said Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, in a telephone interview. “But shame on us if we don’t take aggressive steps to remove a toxic mess that sits in a 38-foot mound, 50 feet from an elementary school. I think it is incumbent on us as elected officials and public officials to urge GE to do the right thing.”

    Removing the dump, however, could mean reopening the hard-fought settlement that requires GE and EPA to share the costs of cleaning up contamination from Pittsfield and the river. The agreement was finalized in October 2000 as a consent decree, and the government has estimated the cleanup it outlines could cost as much as $700 million.

    Dump part of negotiations

    Hill 78 was included in the consent decree despite a protest from the Pittsfield City Council during the 1998 negotiations. When the final draft emerged with the dump still intact, the City Council and former Mayor Gerald S. Doyle Jr. approved it nonetheless.

    According to state and federal records, GE had long used the spot as a dumping ground for waste from its transformer plant, including large metal drums of Pyranol, an oil that contains 60 percent PCBs. The consent decree allows that waste to remain and entitles GE to dump soil and other debris — but no liquids — that have PCB content of up to 50 parts per million. By comparison, the federal standard for a residential property is 2 parts per million.

    While Hill 78 will eventually be capped, there is no liner underneath it to keep the pollution from seeping to the groundwater and migrating out of the dump. The EPA has said the air and water around it are carefully monitored, and that so far no pollution has moved off site.

    Nuciforo said monitoring is not good enough.

    “Materials that end up in landfills like Hill 78 tend to move over time. We may not see any migration of this material this year, and we won’t see any next year, but there is a strong likelihood that there will be some movement of this material over time. And that should concern everyone.”

    GE doesn’t support removal

    GE spokesman Peter O’Toole said GE would “absolutely not” support reopening the consent decree to remove Hill 78.

    “There is just no evidence that the landfill is a threat to the school. All the study data is showing that there isn’t a problem,” O’Toole said.

    David Deegan, an EPA spokesman, said the agency has not received any communication from Nuciforo but indicated it supports the consent decree as written: “Hill 78 was obviously addressed in the consent decree, which had a wide-ranging support at the time, and it is all designed to ensure protecting the health of the community. Beyond that, I don’t think we will want to weigh in until we actually see what the senator is requesting.”

    Parents and teachers at Allendale have been calling on state or federal authorities to test the inside of the school for PCBs to determine whether the children are at risk.

    Authorities had refused until this week, when the Department of Environmental Protection announced that the Department of Public Health would conduct the tests.

    The DPH, however, has said it will first do an assessment and may or may not test for PCBs inside the school. Nuciforo yesterday sent a letter to the commissioners of both agencies, asking for thorough PCB tests to be done in the school and its school yard. The two agencies are essentially equals, both answering to the governor.

    “We have to begin with proper information. DPH needs to do a test,” Nuciforo said.

    Yesterday, a member of the Pittsfield Board of Health, Bobbi Orsi, said the DPH promised her it would test the school for PCBs. A call to DPH seeking confirmation was not returned in time for this report.
    —–
    Jack Dew can be reached at jdew@berkshireeagle.com or at (413) 496-6241.

  3. DJ
    March 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    The reason no one wants to do anything? They are all heavily invested in GE’s share price. Mess with GE and mess with the share price, you’ll be a one term politician or you might end up buried under some PCB’s

  4. Valerie Andersen
    March 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    I completely agree with you. This should be the number one issue in this town. It is astounding how city leaders have not directed the city attorney to pursue ways to open up and modify the consent decree to rid us of Hill 78 and 71. People may not realize it, but there is also a 17 acre toxic waste dump under the Sabic parking lot. GE will not disclose what chemicals (probably more toxic than even PCBs) are buried there. It is leaching into Unkamet Brook. All they have to do under the consent decree is re-route Unkamet Brook a bit and put a “top cap” on it. What about the toxics underneath the top cap? Consent decree says nothing must be done. Our city leaders Mr. Hickey and Mr. Doyle agreed to this when they signed the consent decree. They agreed to create Hill 78. It is outrageous!

  5. PCP
    March 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Is it possible to get a class action law suit against GE to make up the difference in property values to each land/homeowner in Pittsfield? As the value of property is so low, the contamination of land must be one of the main drivers in keeping businesses and people out of here.

    • GMHeller
      March 5, 2011 at 3:08 am #

      FYI:
      G.E. has so far spent $1.33 Billion cleaning-up 1.3 Million pounds of PCB’s downstream of Ft. Edward, New York on the Hudson River.
      This significant bit of news was reported in the Wall Street Journal on Christmas Eve day when few took notice because of the holiday rush (and no doubt intentionally released by GE the day before expressly so the info would not be noticed).
      Nonetheless, these numbers have great significance to Berkshire County residents, because they bring into sharp focus exactly how much of GE’s money it could take to remediate the contamination from toxic chemicals GE mishandled throughout the Berkshire environment.

      The answer: About $1.5 Billion ($1,500,000,000).
      That’s $200 million MORE than what GE has so far expended in New York.
      That $1.5B is the amount it would cost GE — if ordered by USEPA — to do a thorough remediation of PCB’s remaining in the Housatonic River, the Housatonic River flood plain, Woods Pond, and Silver Lake.
      Based on the GE-Fort Edward, NY/Hudson River numbers, it appears to cost about $1023 (one thousand, twenty-three dollars) per pound to clean-up PCB’s once the chemical compound is in the environment. That’s PER POUND.
      As mentioned above, at Fort Edward, GE dumped 1.3 MILLION pounds of PCB’s.
      GE-Pittsfield topped that number with at least 1.5 MILLION pounds of PCB’s being released.
      Repeat: AT LEAST 1,500,000 pounds.
      That was the amount of chemical dumped into the Housatonic River and Silver Lake and surrounding areas over the course of more than 50 years.
      That amount does NOT include additional tons and tons and tons of other contaminated industrial waste coming out of GE-Pittsfield and which has been found buried all over Greater Pittsfield. e.g.: PCB-contaminated Fuller’s Earth [kitty litter], Transformers, Capacitors, and the list of chemicals that Dan Valenti enumerated above.
      G.E. would like to avoid spending any money whatsoever on cleaning up more of the Housatonic River, let alone another $1.5 billion.
      Hence, the company made its recent donation of $300,000 to 1Berkshire, Inc. to fund that group’s so-called ‘Smart Clean-up Coalition’, a disinformation campaign to persuade PCB-addled Berkshire brains not to support a thorough clean-up of the chemical poisons G.E. has forced onto the Berkshire environment.
      1Berkshire’s disinformation campaign is simple, and based on the notion that ‘the cure will be worse than the disease’.
      This, of course, is hogwash.
      If U.S.E.P.A. orders a full-scale, thorough remediation, G.E. will be required to clean up its Berkshire mess or face an uphill battle in federal court.
      But get this: A HUGE side benefit NO ONE is talking about in the event of GE is required to do a full-scale remediation:
      A full-scale remediation would mean job, jobs, jobs at the remediation sites — and all at union scale — on projects lasting years.
      It would also mean that $1.5 billion (the figure quoted above) would be the amount of money trickling from GE’s coffers into the wallets of those doing the actual remediation.
      A lot of that money would stay in the local economy: even dredge operators gotta eat.
      It is imperative that USEPA gets everyone’s cards,letters and emails INSISTING on a full-scale, ‘no-holds-barred’ remediation of the upcoming ‘third leg’ of the Housatonic River remediation that includes Woods Pond and the surrounding flood plain.
      Also, it is imperative in every communication to insist that Silver Lake be given a complete and thorough remediation including full-scale dredging to remove every pound of contaminated mud in that 26-foot deep lake. A cap there will do literally NOTHING to stop airborne emissions and waterborne contamination. A cap will, of course, leak like a sieve over time to recontaminate everything downstream.
      Recommendation:
      It would also pay to make a telephone call to every one of the principals at 1Berkshire, Inc. to inquire just what the hell these Berkshire ‘leading lights’ were thinking when they agreed to back GE’s version of reality.
      A list of 1Berkshire’s principals can be found at Berkshire Blog:
      http://berkshireeagle.blogspot.com/2011/03/in-bed-with-general-electric-company.html
      Regarding the Consent Decree: nothing is carved in stone, but it takes a lot of loud public opinion to move USEPA, or alternatively, a concerted effort in federal district court by residents with legal standing and tenacity to withstand GE’s formidable pressure.

  6. danbeaut
    March 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Property values and maybe a few thousand case studies on those who had cancer, died from it, and are living with it today as we speak. Any lawyers out there?

  7. Dave Martindale
    March 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Another discouraging fact is that ground water was never addressed in the “Consent Decree”. The ground water is contaminated with PCB, Dioxin and solvents from GE’s manufacturing operations.
    Pittsfield will NEVER be able to use ground water as a source for drinking water even though there exist huge aquifers.
    Want to put this in perspective? Go buy a bottle of water at your local convenience store. A 20 ounce bottle of water trucked in from some far off place will cost you at least a buck and one half. Multiply that cost times? Thousands? Millions? Kazillions? Remember, NEVER! will Pittsfield be able to use the ground water.

    The one million a year for ten years, that Pittsfield settled for, seems pretty pitiful in that perspective.

  8. eric vincelette
    March 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    @ DJ…there is a big amount of truth to what you said about people being invested in GE’s share price..In my time reviewing local portfolio’s, if I had a nickel for everytime some investor was soo heavily loaded w/GE & regarded it as the holy grail stock w/tons of emotional attachment, even after all the pain GE has caused them, their family & our community, I’d be a very monetarily wealthy man. Will we ever be able to recover & go back to the good old days?
    NO, because they really weren’t all that good if they caused soo much harm. Pittsfield as a city had no diversification in its workforce portfolio when GE ruled the town & that’s why there was such utter & sheer devestation left in GEs aftermath…Just like those investors who had no portfolio diversification & as went GEs stock, so went their net worth.
    What is needed in our county is more & more strong independent public sector & community sector LEADERSHIP that will figure out the most thourough & least invasive cleanup & hold not only GEs feet but their very SOUL to the fire for what they have done to OUR River, our water, our moms & dads & families who had high level of cancer because of them…Make they PAY & Pay BIG I say & help restore Berkshire COunty & Pittsfield to a beautiflu, safe place to live, work & raise a family…
    Disclaimer~No pansies need apply for this task. If your looking for handouts from GE pack your bags & go elsewhere. This type of fight is only reserved for people who are willing to fight for our community & risk the scorn & ridicule of the supposed “chosen” but really elitist corporate waterboys!
    ~those that are first shall be last & those that are last shall be first
    POWER TO “THE PLANET” FOR HAVING the BIG COHONES TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS FOR FEAR OF NOT BEING INVITED FOR COOKIES & MILK @ THE NEXT Corporate Rah Rah session & Help the people Bring back the Power they have given over to self serving interests & LAZINESS OVER THE YRS

  9. toto
    March 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    G E individual workers are just beginning to recover from twenty years of stock decrease, thanks mainly in part to Obama. Not only did G E rape the citizens of our precious enviorment, stock tumbled and many lost big compensation from downslide of stock prices. The pension benefits are the only good thing left, but ask grandma and grandpa if there seventies pension has caught up with inflation, the answer is know. SSI is there lifeblood.

  10. toto
    March 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    I have to laugh, G E contracted out cleaning jobs at its plastic and chemical divisions to contractors like Billy’s Trucking, because no one wanted to do the job in plant. I’m wondering if those poor fellas had any kind of hazmat training? that in itself was against the law. Today you cannot even walk into a chemical plant without proper and extensive safety training, and it is still very dangerous and harmful to the enviorment even with controls. Back in the old days G E would truck contractors in and tell them to have at it, powdered residue, goo like substances, burning of pure lead were just a few of anti OSHA regulated and EPA non conformance items. Also, polluting the land, rivers and streams and unsual numbers of cancer related deaths with the immediate area of G E owned properties. Where is a super lawyer when you need em!

  11. Joetaxpayer
    March 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    DJ I like your idea for a class action suit.I will say that we have to close one of our elementary schools to balance our budget,why not Allendale, save are kids from contamination.

  12. Joe Nichols
    March 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Great job Dan for all your effort in bringing out the truth. I know it takes alot of work and dedication to achieve this daily.

    Eric Vincelette, I couldn’t agree with you more on what needs to be done concerning GE’s unforgivable contamination of our city and residents.

    If elected Mayor, I will make it a priority to go after GE! I own zero GE stock and I have no fear, Only a tremendous amount of anger for what they have done and a complete disbelief at how the powers in charge of Pittsfield allowed them to walk away without paying for the damages. 10 million dollars is about how much GE makes during a lunch break. They must have given eachother a high five and laughed their hearts out when they flew out of town.

    GE will pay!

  13. Joetaxpayer
    March 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Eric,could not agree with you more,liked your insite.I would like to think if there was a way to clean up there mess at less cost(aka 1berkshire)they would pay the money saved to the effected communities.

  14. danbeaut
    March 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    I think the roads are a joke in the city also, and taxes vs. ratio to property values way too high! Good luck fighting GE Joe, you’ll need it, who will represent the city, Mr. Dahoney?

  15. Amanda Blake
    March 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    This site is spearheading a groundswell of citizen activity and maybe can be the ground zero for our type of Egypt/Lybian uprising. The days of barroom politics and good ol boy politics is over. I live in Ward 5 and if Donna Todd Rivers runs, she’s got my vote and I will work tirelessly for her I thank Dan for his relentless drive to the truth .. I’m sorry he has to endure potshots but it means he’s getting information out there.

  16. Albert Prince
    March 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Thank you (then) sen. Nuciforo (see story above by Jack Dew). You were the only one with courage

  17. eric vincelette
    March 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    What does it take to Reopen & re write the consent decree?

  18. danbeaut
    March 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    It would have to designated as a superfund site. Who is going to challenge a huge corporation with zillions of cash. Give Gerry and Tommy a call, they’ll be able to explain it to you.

    • Are We Dreaming?
      March 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Remember this about class action suits: Plaintiffs have one gigantic advantage — public opinion. This is a clear case of Gigantic Corporation running roughshod over innocent people. A company would pay huge bucks to settle this out of court rather than go to trial and endure months and months of bad PR. Spoken with legal expertise. People of Pittsfield (and Berkshire County) have a GREAT case here.

  19. danbeaut
    March 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    It would have to designated as a superfund site. Who is going to challenge a huge corporation with zillions of cash. Give Gerry and Tommy a call, they’ll be able to explain it to you.

  20. Dave Martindale
    March 9, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    The rational to thoroughly removal of PCB from our environment must be made clearly evident.

    PCB is a very stable compound and naturally breaks down very slowly. Its stability was one of the reasons it was chosen to be used as a dielectric fluid.

    We should not depend on the river cleaning itself of PCB. If the river purges itself of PCB, where will that contamination end up? One truth, left out of a lot of discussions, is that the river is very sick. It is not the pristine environment that many portray it. It is GE that has destroyed the river not the pending clean-up.

    We need to remove these toxins from the river before they do more harm to local residents or move into the environment and cause harm elsewhere.

    PCB’s have been found in the food chain, even in vegetables. PCBs are bio-accumulative. They move up the food chain. PCBs have been found in every part of the world and all the way to the Arctic. PCB has been measured in alarming quantities in the fat of seals and polar bears. It is reported that polar bears are experiencing reproductive issues that are linked to PCB exposure. PCB is proven to be cancer causing in animals. PCB exposure, even in small quanities has been linked to numerous health problems in humans.

    One very frightening aspect of PCB is that when PCB is heated, dioxin and furans are created at temperatures below 2000 degrees F. So, if you are frying a piece of fish contaminated with PCB on the stove in your kitchen, the potential exists for you to contaminate your house and expose yourself and your family to dioxin and furan.

    Dioxin and furan are known carcinogens. Dioxin has been labeled as one of the most toxic man-made chemicals. The contamination that is in the river, more than likely, contains more than just PCB. A reality of the transformer manufacturing process was the failure of transformers in test prior to shipment and the repair of transformers that failed in the field. In the development of ever larger transformers, transformers often failed in test. Oil from failed transformers was no longer suitable for reuse so it was discarded, often into the environment. Transformer failures were high heat related events.

    As I stated above, heating PCB creates dioxin and furans. More than likely, a large percentage of the oil that was carelessly dumped by GE into the environment, was oil from failed transformers and one can only assume that a percentage of that oil contained dioxin created by the transformer failure.

    Another reality of PCB is that Monsanto knowingly shipped PCB that contained a percentage of dioxin. http://www.lightparty.com/Economic/MonsantoDioxinFraud.html
    http://www.foxriverwatch.com/dioxins_pcb_pcbs_1.html

    Just because they are not sampling for Dioxin does not mean it is not part of our problem.

    • danvalenti
      March 10, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      DAVE
      Thanks for this clear, concise summation of the true threat. This will run as a feature story on The Planet, so that all may see, with your permission.

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