HARRIS AS WBRK STATE-REP-DEBATE MODERATOR: THE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES … PLUS … DAVE MARTINDALE EXPLAINS WHY THE GE TOXINS QUESTION ISN’T JUST LIMITED TO PCBs
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, SATURDAY, OCT. 8, 2011) — The controversy over Allen Harris of Berkshire Money Management in a radio-debate moderator’s role continues, as a current office holder, wanting to remain unnamed, calls the decision by WBRK radio “highly suspect and a sure sign that [Harris] has bought his way into the seat to influence the [state rep's] special election.”
‘IT LOOKS LIKE AN ATTEMPT TO RIG AN OUTCOME’
Asked to comment further, the officials said, “I have major concerns, and I would think the other candidates do as well. This calls into question the electoral process, and gives it a stench. It doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s hard enough getting people interested in the electoral process, getting them to vote. Let me say it straight: It looks like an attempt to rig an outcome.”
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Harris is underwriting as sponsor the costs not just of the 3rd District state rep’s debate but all the debates on WBRK. He has done this, sources claim, so he could be in a position to demand the moderator’s chair in the state rep’s debate featuring Independent Pam Malumphy, Green Party’s Mark Miller, Democrat Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and Republican Mark Jester. Sources say Harris made his advertising dollars to the station contingent upon be able to moderate the state rep’s debate.
IS HARRIS BACKING TRICIA?
It is widely suspected though not officially certain that Harris is backing TFB, who is considered the special-interest GOB candidate. THE PLANET certainly considers her such. According to Boston sources that spoke to THE PLANET when Chris “No Show” Speranzo was up for confirmation in the controversial appointment as clerk magistrate in Central Berkshire Court, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray came to Boston in July 2010. Sources say he met with No Show and others to set up the deal, literally in the smoke-filled back room, this at Del Gallo’s on Newell Street.
In the coziness of Remo’s back room, Murray offered No Show the $110,000-a-year-plus-bennies lifetime appointment as clerk mag. The plan was that he would step down as state representative after winning re-election (not having shared with voters he had no intention of completing his term), and the GOB/special interests would appoint a stooge to win the seat in a special election. They have that much confidence, apparently, that they can control elections in this manner. That willing dupe, THE PLANET believes, is TFB.
Harris is actively supporting two other “establishment” candidates, according to sources: Barry Clairmont for councilor-at-large and Chris Connell in Ward 4. The inductive evidence makes it appear obvious that Harris supports TFB.
If this is so, Harris in the role of debate moderator brings to the top not only a huge ethical question for WBRK but also a potential legal issue with the FCC. THE PLANET calls on our good friends at WBRK to remove Harris from this role and thus restore confidence that things on what they seem and on the up-and-up. This move will prevent what could be a nasty and expensive problem.
‘REST OF RIVER’ MEETING OCT. 12, 6:30 P.M., AT LENOX TOWN HALL
As part of THE PLANET’s exclusive coverage of the ongoing PCB/industrial toxins/GE issue and the upcoming “Rest of the River” meeting set for Lenox Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, we present this guest commentary by Dave Martindale. THE PLANET will publish views on this crucial issue for Pittsfield and Berkshire County up to and after the meeting. If you wish to submit an essay for consideration, send it along via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS IS THE ONE SHOT WE HAVE TO DO RIGHT BY THE BERKSHIRE ENVIRONMENT: GE MUST CLEAN THE RIVER
By DAVE MARTINDALE
SPecial to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
There continues to be questions as to why should we hold GE’s feet to the fire and demand the best possible cleanup of the “Rest of the River.”
There continues to be the question: Why are we destroying the river to clean it?
Aside from being alarmed that waterfowl from the Housatonic River Flyway were shown to have with the highest levels of PCB of any ever tested, we need to take one step back and look at the overall picture.
The perception that the river is healthy and pristine and we should not destroy that healthy and pristine environment is a FALSE perception. The Housatonic River below the GE plant is not healthy and far from pristine. The river was already destroyed and forever damaged by GE dumping millions of pounds of toxins into the environment.
The reality is that the health of those living in it (wildlife), alongside of it (humans), and the health of everyone and everything downstream, are at risk. The amount of contamination that has been deposited in the river and its floodplains downstream from the former GE Transformer Manufacturing Plant is unparalleled.
PCBs are classified as a probable human carcinogen. There are numerous studies linking PCB exposure to a host of human health problems. I am not going to get into that part. If you want knowledge of the health problems, do a quick search on the Internet. www.foxriverwatch.com is a good link. The bottom line is that a lot of people smarter than myself have conducted some pretty comprehensive studies. These studies cannot be ignored.
Yet, sadly, studies conducted to determine the “RISK” of exposure to PCBs are often flawed. These studies seldom take into account the synergistic effect of the other “nasties” that are often found hanging around with PCB. The nastiest of the “nasties” is Dioxin. Aroclor 1260, a PCB compound that GE used extensively as a dielectric fluid has a remarkably similar molecular structure to Dioxin. Scientists tend to lump PCB 1260 with Dioxin because of the similarity in molecular structure.
PCB was manufactured and shipped to customers by Monsanto, with a percentage of the material containing dioxin and furans. Dioxin was a byproduct of PCB manufacturing. This is a fact that Monsanto knew and hid.
We know that dioxin and furan is formed by the heating of PCB. If we are to look back in depth at the GE transformer manufacturing history, for which the responsibility of a majority portion of the contamination in the river falls, a few alarming facts surface.
Transformer and capacitor failure was a reality of the manufacturing process. These types of failures are high-heat related occurrences. In the manufacture of transformers, particularly when developing increasingly larger capacity models, transformers often failed in test, often failing multiple times.
Transformers were returned to GE by customers for service after failure in the field. When a transformer failed, the failure more often than not could be traced to a meltdown of a major component inside the transformer. A fire of high heat actually occurred inside the transformer. This “fire” potentially created dioxin and furan. The transformer oil was then dielectrically contaminated and often of no further use to GE.
The first plan of action after the failure was to drain the transformer. Often the oil was dumped into the plant drainage system connected with the river and Silver Lake. Often this oil was given away for other use, like to be spread on roads to keep the dust down. Secondly, the covers to the transformer were burnt off providing access for the repair. This action also potentially created dioxin and furans. The transformer was then repaired and “cleaned” liberally using the best solvents available, which is why we often find cleaning solvents dispersed through contamination deposits.
GE assemblers were the workers often charged with making these repairs. GE assemblers were often afflicted with bladder cancer. Do we see any correlation?
Because routine samples taken from contaminated sites and the river are seldom analyzed for dioxin, furan, VOC and SVOC does not mean they do not exist. Any risk assessment should consider dioxin and furan and other contaminates as appreciable components.
There are only a few labs in the entire country that are willing to analyze for Dioxin. Most are afraid of contaminating their lab. The cleanup standards and exposure limits for Dioxin are vastly greater than for PCB.
GE continues to downplay or minimize the health risk of humans and creatures in the environment to PCB exposure. GE continues to ignore current science and health studies linking PCB exposure to a vast array of health problems. GE’s position on the toxicity of PCB is not defensible.
Because heat can create dioxin and furans, if one was to cook a piece of PCB contaminated fish in your kitchen or cook one of those ducks tested with huge amounts of PCB in their body, the potential exists to volatize PCB into your home and potentially create dioxin.
To view PCB contamination from another perspective, Mass DEP standards for cleanup of PCB that has leached from caulk (an entirely different nightmare we will save for another day) into soil from window caulk, like at your child’s school, are in the single digit parts per million range. Yet here we have ducks, fish and other animals in the Housatonic with hundreds if not thousands of times more contamination.
PCB is a bio-accumulative chemical. It builds up in the food chain. The PCB’s you take in today will take an estimated 10 years for your body to shed them. Our local pediatricians have gone on record telling us that no amount of PCB exposure is good for our children. Scientists, like Dr. David Carpenter of the University of Albany tell us that living in close proximity to a deposit or source of contamination places us at a greater risk for health problems. Studies from the same university tell us that PCB volatizes readily from the banks of the Hudson River. Do we think that we are immune to this hazard here in the beautiful Berkshires?
One should not be called an “envirochondriac” if they have done their homework and are informed and believe that removal of this toxin and the other toxins hanging out with PCB should be cleaned up to the best of our ability.
Does anyone remember the day when the EPA was charged with using the best available technology to do the very best job possible?
For those of you that do not want to see the river destroyed, support programs that would utilize emerging technologies to destroy this contamination in place.
There are new technologies out there that show great promise. Demand that the cleanup program supports pilot programs that would develop these technologies. The estimates for this cleanup schedule cover decades. Look back 50 years and you will have a glimpse of what is possible in the next 50 years.
We here in Berkshire County, sit on one of the largest deposits of PCB in the country and we do not yet understand this toxin or its actual effect on the health of the citizens that call this place home. Support having a comprehensive health study done so that those in power have the tools to make the proper decisions affecting our well-being. Knowledge is power.
Right now we have the ONE chance and only ONE chance to do the right thing. We have GE in position to do a cleanup of the river. Are we going to support a comprehensive cleanup using the best available technology to once and for all remove this toxin from our environment, or are we going to buy into the false perception that we are going to destroy the river in cleaning it up?
We have this one chance. We are never, ever, going to be in this position again.
THUS WE MOVE INTO THIS TREASURE HUNT OF A WEEKEND, WITH LOVE A-TOUCHING NOW.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.