PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, COLUMBUS DAY, 2011) — Yes, even THE PLANET enjoys an occasional holiday, as we are doing today. We have already had a lovely walk, a sunbath, and are about to host a small luncheon party with dear friends.

We came on briefly to tell you that our wall-to-wall coverage of the vital issue of GE, industrial toxins, and Berkshire County will continue, even as the Boring Broadsheet, the rest of the local media, and pretty much every candidate running for office continues to ignore this 1,000-pound gorilla. Why the local silence, we cannot say. We have some reasonable guesses, though.

Tomorrow, we bring you new information on Hill 78, Silver Lake, and a digest of the views of Dave Bubriski and Jeff Cook, who advocate the less-invasive, selective treatment of The Rest of the River advocated by GE and the EPA. Bubriski and Cook sent us material in response to some of the discussions on THE PLANET, and particularly in answer to a guest editorial we published written by Dave Martindale.


Someone asked “Who is Dave Martindale,” implying: Who the heck is he to be sharing his views. He’s no ‘expert.'” We answered: He holds the highest title and position of authority in Berkshire County. He is a CITIZEN. That makes him the boss of elected and appointed officials, who are acting in his name and, presumably, at his direction. We offer the same badge of highest distinction to Bubriski and Cook.

Everyone has right to their say. That precious few exercise these rights is a shame on those who don’t and the highest good for those who do.

No doubt: It’s a tremendously significant meeting set for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Lenox Town Hall — a showdown, if you will, on two radically different approaches to the next step forward in the treatment of Housatonic River. THE PLANET hopes for a full-throated discussion, full of passion, but decided on reason, facts, and data.


We also remind citizens, office holders, and those seeking office, that a separate but related issue is what to do about Pittsfield. Hill 78 — one of the most noxious collections of industrial toxins in the world, still towers over Allendale Elementary School. Silver Lake, which is filled with countless tons of the most foul industrial brew of toxins, is still untreated. PCBs and other poisons sit in land throughout the city. Other hot spots and still-unknown toxic dumps exist and their locations have yet to be revealed, causing whatever harm they can.

The Consent Agreement contains provision for reopeners. THE PLANET urges citizens to contact office holders and make clear to anyone running for office that they want the Consent Agreement reopened so that GE can finally do what the Consent Agreement didn’t do: Remunerate Pittsfield for its poisons.






  1. Dave G
    October 10, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Dave Martindale has more credibility than most of these naysayers and has been involved longer than most people in the river issues.

  2. beezer
    October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Dave Martindale seems to have an axe to grind. Does he live near the river or was he ever employd by G E. What does he do now to have such knowledge, just curious.

    • Dave Martindale
      October 11, 2011 at 2:31 am #

      I will tell you how I came to know what I know about GE and PCB. I do not consider myself an expert by any stretch. I will tell you that I have a very unique background and extensive experience concerning GE and PCB. One could argue that experience is a good teacher.

      I grew up GE. Two of my grandfathers, three of my uncles, my father and my aunt all worked at GE. Growing up in this family it was hard to avoid “shop talk”.

      My grandfather worked as an assembler in GE and died of bladder cancer. Assemblers were the ones assigned to cut open a failed transformer and go inside and cleanup the mess and make the repair. My grandfather talked to me at length about being an assembler. His pain and trama from his affliction had a lasting impact on me. I was the oldest grandchild and had spent a lot of time with him. I drove him to Albany to the doctor for treatment often. His words still ring in my ears.
      One of my aunts tells me about being a student nurse at the old Pittsfield General Hospital, which I assume became BMC. She tells of a ward full of GE workers, all with bladder cancer.

      I myself worked in building 15 in my youth, for about a year, back in the day when GE employed 14,000. I can vividly remember often making replacement core parts for failed transformers. I can remember touring into buildings 1,2 and 3 and viewing some of the transformer melt downs.

      I worked for Hill Engineers for years as a project person and I was often on assignment at GE Transformer.

      During the consolidation of Power Transformer and Network Transformers, I worked as horsepower to implement the merge. My assignments took me to every corner of the plant and I learned the business from the inside out. I talked to hundreds of GE workers as part of my assignment to understand the operation. I witnessed the assemblers with 3 pairs of shoes. Two pair would sit in a box of speedi-dry while they wore the third. At break they would change shoes. PCB oil ran free on the floor.

      My experience from the Consolidation exercise at GE carried over to work at ConEd in NYC in their transformer repair facility in Queens. I worked on a project there to revamp their facility.

      My longest and deepest emersion into GE and all things PCB came in the late 80s when GE had closed down the Plant and was under fire from Mass DEP because they were not doing anything with the issues and huge fines were pending. I again got assigned to work at GE through Hill Engineers. That gig lasted over 6 years.

      For that assignment, I was placed in an office in GE’s Environmental and Facilities Group. I sought out free oil in the plant and coordinated sampling and disposal. I assisted with the first capping of Allendale School. I coordinated the collection, documentation and disposal of every PCB capacitor and transformer in the plant left from the operation. My spreadsheets contained hundreds of thousands of capacitors and hundreds of transformers. I oversaw the “Carwash” operation in building 12 that washed equipment prior to offsite scrapping as well as oversight of contractors cleaning and removing equipment. I attended hundreds of hours of PCB seminars, safety training and and I participated in many many discussions concerning PCB, PCB cleanup and proper and safe handling of chemical contamination. I helped maintain Puff the PCB incinerator and made improvements on the PCB tank farm. I orchestrated maintence and made improvements on the GE WWTP. I built secondary containment at numerous PCB collection statitions throughout Area 2.

      My most significant position held during this period was at the F. T. Rose Superfund Site in Lanesboro. At the Superfund site, PCB was the contaminate of concern and VOC and SVOC were also present. I acted as Site Manager and Site Health and Safety Officer and GE’s representative on site. That assignment lasted 2 1/2 years but what I learned was priceless.

      After the Superfund Site finally reached closure, one of the first 10 in the country, I went back to the plant and I participated in the first surgical remediation digs along the river in the flood plain.

      With my experience, I could have written my own ticket in the environmental field but I had had enough. I walked away but could not really escape. I lived at the time in my grandparents former house on California Ave. In my backyard, out my windows, I watched as OPCA 71 and Hill 78 rose to mamoth proportions. I traveled about the city with self installed blinders on. Even though I wanted to not get caught up in the cleanup of the plant and the river, I couldn’t escape nor could I avoid seeing what was going on. Having worked with hundreds of contractor personal over the years in the remediation field, I was constantly running into those that were still working on the cleanup. They were quick to point out to me problems. I saw things going on in the clean-up of the river that appalled me.

      The straw that pushed me over the edge was the summer of dust. OPCA 71 and Hill 78 were in full swing. The dust coming from these two sites was significant. I went to Pittsfield City Hall and my complaints about the dust fell on def ears. Not long after that, I attended a meeting at Allendale School. I stood up and bitched about the dust. This is the same night GE released sample results from 7 years of operations. They presented 43 sampling events as justification that their operation was defensible. I challenged them and the fight was on.

      It wasn’t long after that, I was drafted by those others passionate about this fight to have a significant and meaningfull clean-up. I was an excellent resource to answer questions and give experienced insight. Combined with the fact that my daughters a student at Allendale, I became an activist. I became increasingly vocal and involved. I challenged the status quo at every turn. I studied the subject inside and out to gain a better understanding of the entire picture.

      My goal has been and continues to be having GE do a meaningful clean-up. The goal of having the river once again be fishable and swimmable seems very reasonable to me.

      This is a righteous fight against a corporate giant whose only concern is the bottom line. I sincerely believe that we can do a lot better than we have and far better than what is proposed for cleanup of our environment and the rest of the river.

      • Silence Dogood
        October 11, 2011 at 3:14 am #

        Was your grandfather a smoker?

        • Dave Martindale
          October 11, 2011 at 3:34 am #

          Not that I remember, though most in that day were smokers, so, maybe before I knew him he was.
          Before we knew the dangers of smoking cigarettes, most of the population smoked cigarettes. Most of the population did not come down with bladder cancer, but if you worked in GE in assembly, chances were good.

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 11, 2011 at 5:02 am #

            Dave, what is the % of the population in general as opposed to those in your grandfathers occupation who got this cancer?

            If PCBs can cause this or any disease what would a person have to do to be exposed at the same level as an industrial worker and I’m talking about the area from the confluence to the pond?

            Below is internet data

            •Smoking: Smoking is the single greatest risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers have more than twice the risk of developing bladder cancer as nonsmokers.

            •Chemical exposures at work: People who regularly work with certain chemicals or in certain industries have a greater risk of bladder cancer than the general population. Organic chemicals called aromatic amines are particularly linked with bladder cancer. These chemicals are used in the dye industry. Other industries linked to bladder cancer include rubber and leather processing, textiles, hair coloring, paints, and printing. Strict workplace protections can prevent much of the exposure that is believed to cause cancer.

            •Diet: People whose diets include large amounts of fried meats and animal fats are thought to be at higher risk of bladder cancer.

  3. Amanda Blake
    October 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Dave Martindale seems knowledgeable thats for sure. He writes with authority and information that makes scientific sense. My husband and I were ipressed by the way out laid out the issue. We have found him to be the most believable of any posters on this issue here on this website. Which again, has done a great job covering this.

    • Silence Dogood
      October 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      Marrtindale uses the word potentially….this is nonesense and very unscientific. We could “potentially” get 35 feet of snow next month……Martindale just threw ball four….next pitcher could potentially strike out the side;-)

      • Dave Martindale
        October 11, 2011 at 3:26 am #

        I am sad that from my entire essay, my use of the word “potentially” is cause for you to ignore the remainder of my agruement.

        I tell my daughter to not play in the street. She asks why and I tell her that “potentially” she could get run over by a car and be squashed like a bug. Do I let her play in the street because being squashed like a bug is only a risk and not a sure thing?

        I do not have all the answers. I will look you in the eye and say that. What I do know is that we do not know, after all these years, the effect that PCB and the other contaminates in our river have on the health of the people living here.

        I ask that people support having a comprehensive health study done to determine once and for all the effect this massive contamination has on our health. A comprehensive health study will give those in power the tools to make the right decisions.

        • Silence Dogood
          October 11, 2011 at 5:30 am #

          If a child plays on a busy road the chances of death are signficantly greater than potentially……potentially one could be struck by a meteor shower…..

          Much of your argument is built on a maybe foundation.

          Can’t Carpenter come up with anything more than maybe?

          • scott
            October 12, 2011 at 4:33 am #

            I’ll catch you some fish out of the housatonic you eat them twice a week for a year and lets see what happens… You may get sick or you may not.

        • scott
          October 12, 2011 at 4:31 am #

          They knew the shit caused health problems back in the 1930’s but companies like MONSANTO do not care.

  4. Irvin Corey
    October 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    A question that needs to be asked here is if GE is made to do the radical dredging of the river and spend several billion dollars, in whose pocket will this money find a home? Do those folks advocating radical dredging have financial ties to unions or construction companies who could stand to milk a cash cow for the next fifty plus years? Construction companies and unions don’t care if they did a hole and fill it back in 100 times in a row so long as the money flows in. The radical dredging advocates (RDA’s) should disclose any and all ties, financial or otherwise to everyone who stands to make a penny from dredging. The RDA’s like to hide behind a façade of moral superiority. I have no objection to close scrutiny of those who prefer a moderate approach to the rest of the river. I also believe that the RDA’s require viewing under the same microscope.


    Ray Ovac
    October 10, 2011 at 7:42 am#

    For the record, I got no financial ties whatsoever to any unions, construction companies, or any entity that would be involved in such work. But I do own GE stock. I just wanna see every drop of these chemical poisons removed from the Berkshire environment and have all that toxic stuff shipped out of state or destroyed so it ain’t gonna plague anyone else. If any of it remains buried here it may eventually leach out, recontaminate, or cause some family or neighborhood years down the road to come down with exotic Cancers. In addition, what if future scientific research discovers that in even tinier microscopic amounts these chemicals are dangerous and carcinogenic, then are we supposed to go begging to GE and USEPA again to go back and remove those piles that were left buried and supposedly sealed? Better to take advantage of the opportunity presented now to remove all this garbage and get rid of it totally and with finality.


    Ray Ovac
    October 10, 2011 at 8:00 am#

    Scott, and if it costs me 3 cents per share per quarter for the next ten years (or for however many years it does end up taking), then I will gladly take the hit as long as it means these substances are permanently removed from the Berkshire environment. The most aggressive clean-up possible is what is needed. The land will heal. One would barely know now that a tornado hit Great Barrington in 1995 and created flatlands where once there were tall trees, but Nature healed and regrew. Same will be so for any work done on the Rest of the River or Silver Lake. Leaving those poisons in situ is just an invitation to have more trouble down the road. The ducks and geese and fish will thank you.


    October 10, 2011 at 9:09 am#

    Well put, RO


    October 10, 2011 at 9:10 am#

    We hadn’t thought of this wrinkle, but it’s an interesting point. There will be lots of construction $$ thrown around if full dredging is approved.


    Theo Luke Nellie
    October 10, 2011 at 8:45 am#

    First in on this site. I came here after recommendation from a friend. We have a mutual interest in this Ge/pollution issue. First let me commend this site for allowing this discussion on both sides. Our view is the view outlined by Dave Bubriski and Jeffrey Cook. It seems more reasonable and answers the needs of the environment, the safety of the people, the needs of the city of Pittsfield, and the responsiveness to General Electric.


    October 10, 2011 at 9:08 am#

    Thanks you, TLN. We love first comers, and we hope you stay with us.


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  5. Irvin Corey
    October 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    it was alleged that some took $300,000 to spread misinformation…….funny some stand to make billions from the cleanup and we know there is no hanky panky when there are billions to be made…..oy vey….who might be involved in the clean up business with billions at stake????? and would they be pushing any of this????

    • Ray Ovac
      October 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      This sudden concern over just who would make money doing the remediation work is a red herring issue the real purpose for which is to get people to doubt the wisdom of taking any action whatsoever. Now I wonder what business entity would benefit the most from no action being taken in what otherwise would be a billion dollar clean-up? GEee, I wonder. P.Alphonso is right. What the hell does it matter who does the remediation work? Isn’t removing GE’s chemical toxins from the Berkshire environment the issue with which we need to concern ourselves? GE or USEPA will undoubtedly put any remediation contract out to bid and the lowest bidder is going to end up doing the work. And so what if the remediation company’s owners make boku bucks on the contract; more power to them. It’s a nasty business. One could argue the nastiest. Do you want to be the one operating a suction on the bottom of Silver Lake surrounded by God-Knows-What Cancer-causing solvents mixed in with the mud? Do you want to be the one in proximity to PCB-contaminated dirt and dust all day while digging in the Rest of the River? What if you take your sweaty filter mask off for a brief moment to scratch your nose and inhale a lungful or two of highly contaminated dust. You want to be the one worrying about whether or not you’re going to be dead in 10 years because of the work you’re doing cleaning up chemical compounds even GE hasn’t been able to catalogue? You want to be the one surrounded by volatile organic solvent vapors all day? So what if some of the clean-up people make big bucks? More power to them, for they will have earned every penny of it. If you’re so concerned about someone making a windfall, why don’t you set up your own remediation company and be that lucky guy who submits the lowest bid, gets the contract, and has to pay the highest workman’s compensation rates and medical liability insurance rates in the country?

      • Silence Dogood
        October 11, 2011 at 5:47 am #

        If greed drives GE why wouldn’t the same billions drive some entity that would profit from GE spending money?

        • Ray Ovac
          October 11, 2011 at 9:39 am #

          SD, your question is not relevant in any way to this discussion. If you are so enraged that a for-profit business would actually want to make a profit, why don’t you establish your own remediation company, calculate your prospective costs, and submit your own bid on the project when whatever project is decided upon is ultimately put out to public bid.

          • Silence Dogood
            October 11, 2011 at 10:13 am #

            Asking questions is not being enraged and I have no objection to making a profit. However I do object to markets being manipulated by corporatations, the govt. or by individuals and organizations. I’m just trying to determine what level of intervention is nescessary. A good analogy would be a lumpectomy as opposed to a radical mastectomy.

  6. Irvin Corey
    October 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    300.000 or billions…hmmmmmmmmmmmm

  7. P. Alfonso
    October 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Who would get the cleanup business? Does it matter? Isn’t cleaning the environment more important than that?

    • Silence Dogood
      October 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      billions my friend

      • Steve Wade
        October 11, 2011 at 6:33 am #

        MAXIMILLION $$$$$

        • Ray Ovac
          October 11, 2011 at 7:13 am #

          SW, what’s the relevance of discussing which firm or firms may ultimately get remediation contracts?You haven’t even decided whether you really want the house cleaned yet but now you’re fretting over who may or may not get the cleaning contract?

        • Silence Dogood
          October 11, 2011 at 9:27 am #

          did they do the last phase?

        • scott
          October 12, 2011 at 5:37 am #

          Oh you know that hey don’t they own property on a Superfund site?

    • Ray Ovac
      October 11, 2011 at 5:44 am #

      Dave Martindale, Riveting stuff. In your experience, did you ever know of instances wherein GE officials lied to federal, state, or city officials about any aspects of the PCB’s and other toxic chemical substances that were being handled at the Pittsfield operation?

      • Silence Dogood
        October 11, 2011 at 5:52 am #

        Diogenes didn’t end his search after talking with David Carpenter or GE officials.

  8. Anytime
    October 11, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Silence Dog
    You are not adding to the conversation with your smart-ass remarks, Dave martindale’s testimony is moving and convincing, heart renching. This man slam dunked your knucklehead question on who the heck is Dave martindale. Slammed dunked it down your throat.

    • Silence Dogood
      October 11, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      If you’re refering to me it was not I who posed that question although I’m sure Mr. Martindale enjoyed the opportunity to tell everyone about himself. Moving and heart renching do not equal convincing. Facts and not emotionalized antecdotes win the day anytime.

    • Silence Dogood
      October 11, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      Steve Wade
      October 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm#
      Who the hell is Dave Martindale ? and what are his qualifications?

      Let’s add vision problems to the list of potential PCB side effects

  9. Tim Gray
    October 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    For the post about GE lies. They have been lying ever since.
    We have a copy of this published document.

    Here is Dr Peter Montague

    This is the story of when GE first started talking about PCBs

    In 1937–just eight years after Swan Chemical began manufacturing PCBs in commercial quantities–the Harvard School of Public Health hosted a one-day meeting on the problem of “systemic effects” of certain chlorinated hydrocarbons including “chlorinated diphenyl” (an early name for PCBs).[8] The meeting was attended by representatives from Monsanto, General Electric, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Halowax Corporation, among others.

    Before World War I, the Halowax Corporation began manufacturing chlorinated naphthelenes as a coating for electric wire and companies like General Electric began using it. The president of Halowax, Sandford Brown, told the meeting that they had observed no problems in their workers until “the past 4 or 5 years… Then we come to the higher stages [greater number of chlorine atoms in the mixture], combined with chlorinated diphenyl and other products, and suddenly this problem is presented to us.”[8] By the mid-1930s, workers at Halowax and at GE, and even some of their customers, were breaking out with chloracne–small pimples with dark pigmentation of the exposed area, followed by blackheads and pustules. In 1936 three workers at the Halowax Company died, and Halowax then hired Harvard University researchers to expose rats to these chlorinated compounds, to see if they could discover the underlying cause. The Harvard researchers made “a number of estimates of chlorinated hydrocarbons in the air of different factories,” then designed experiments to expose rats to similar levels. They reported that “the chlorinated diphenyl is certainly capable of doing harm in very low concentrations and is probably the most dangerous [of the chlorinated hydrocarbons studied].”[8] And, they said, “These experiments leave no doubt as to the possibility of systemic effects from the chlorinated naphthalenes and chlorinated diphenyls.”[8]

    From a brief report on the one-day conference, we can gather that problems caused by PCB exposures were serious and widely known. Mr. F.R. Kaimer, assistant manager of General Electric’s Wireworks at York, Pa., said, “It is only 1 1/2 years ago that we had in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 men afflicted with various degrees of this acne about which you all know. Eight or ten of them were very severely afflicted–horrible specimens as far as their skin conditions was concerned. One man died and the diagnosis may have attributed his death to halowax vapors, but we are not sure of that….”[8]

    GE’s medical director, Dr. B. L. Vosburgh of Schenectady, N.Y., attended the meeting. He said, “About the time we were having so much trouble at our York factory some of our customers began complaining. We thought we were having a hysteria of halowax mania throughout the country.”

    Monsanto Chemical Company was represented at the meeting by R. Emmett Kelly. Mr. Kelly told the meeting, “I can’t contribute anything to the laboratory studies, but there has been quite a little human experimentation in the last several years, especially at our plants where we have been manufacturing this chlorinated diphenyl.” He went on to describe the results of Monsanto’s human experiments: “A more or less extensive series of skin eruptions which we were never able to attribute as to cause, whether it was impurity in the benzene we were using or to the chlorinated diphenyl.”[8]

    GE’s F.R. Kaimer described the HUMAN reaction of GE executives to the disfigurement and pain of GE workers exposed to PCBs: “[W]e had 50 other men in very bad condition as far as the acne was concerned. The first reaction that several of our executives had was to throw it out–get it out of our plant. They didn’t want anything like that for treating wire. But that was easily said but not so easily done. We might just as well have thrown our business to the four winds and said, ‘We’ll close up,’ because there was no substitute and there is none today in spite of all the efforts we have made through our own research laboratories to find one.”[8] And so GE executives–contrary to their personal ethics–reached a business decision to continue using PCBs.

    –Peter Montague, Ph.D.
    Citations can be found at


    • Dave Bubriski
      October 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      Tim, in the portion of the river between the confluence and the pond how would one come into contact with chlorinated diphenyl? And how long would one have to stay in contact with it in order to experience what these workers experienced in 1937? For those in the ward 4 area that’s close to the river how much danger would you say we are in? If the river were dredged as you think it should be how much would the risk cancer or any other disease decrease? Thanks? What’s the story on those worms that you felt held so much promise? Are they still being studied?

      • Ray Ovac
        October 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

        DB, the same questions should be posed regarding anyone living in any of the neighborhoods nearby Silver Lake, especially downwind of that body of heavily polluted water.
        A Berkshire Eagle employee died not too long ago from a rare brain Cancer just 11 years after moving to within half a mile of the lake.

        • Dave Bubriski
          October 12, 2011 at 5:53 am #

          Consider the question posed Ray. Do you have the specifics on that Eagle employee….type of brain cancer etc. etc.?

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      This adds a great piece of the puzzle to those searching for the correct response to the opportunity that Berkshire County has to do what has yet to be done: Finally, definitively, and once and for all address the massive amount of poisons left in our air, water, and soil. We thank Tim Gray.

  10. Dave Bubriski
    October 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Tim, what happened to the red worm studies with that Otto ???? from Europe? You were checking into it a few years ago.

  11. Tim Gray
    October 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Dan I would like to contribute a few thoughts. First of all most everyone knows I have spent my life trying to reverse the toxic mess GE left behind. My property is contaminated. Our river is contaminated. And lots of other GE toxic sites exist. I took the first independent samples in the river in 1976 when GE’s line was there is no contamination. In 1992 the Housatonic River Initiative formed and has been working for a comprehensive clean up for years. Many other groups agree on a clean river goal. We have never thought a clean river agenda is a radical notion but some seem to think this way.
    PCBs were discovered in the food chain of the earth about 1966. They are one of the most pervasive toxic chemicals and reside in most humans and wildlife. Over several decades many world health organizations, independent scientists, and universities have studied them and consider them highly toxic. Thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies have been published. It is well documented that mothers pass doses of PCBs to their babies during breast feeding. Studies on wildlife have been equally alarming. Whales, polar bears, birds, fish, amphibians are a few being impacted. Nations around the world are cleaning PCBs up. Why? Because it is a prudent public and ecological health policy.
    Just to add some local information to the mix. Mr. Martindale has worked for years to get as much of this toxic mess cleaned up as possible. His knowledge about PCBs is very valuable to having a competent discussion. In 1988 a study by Mass Dept of Public health was published pointing to very elevated levels of bladder cancer in Pittsfield. This was not internet data. Dave Gibbs, who Mr. Bubriski decided to slur on this blog, has spent decades helping neighbors whose families grew up on contaminated land get proper clean ups. He helped fight Hill78 and the clean up at Allendale School. His family has suffered from health issues all the while he was pushing for better clean ups.
    To answer another post, Mr. Cook is a Board member of 1 Berkshire. After 1Berkshire denied in public that GE has funded this group, the Berkshire Record/Boston Globe printed stories to the contrary. Mr. Cook has a right to his opinion but lets be sure where the GE money goes.
    GE has led the fight to make everyone believe that PCBs are safe and they shouldn’t be responsible for their mess. This has been the case on the Housatonic and Hudson Rivers. They fan the fire that no environmentalist could possibly be right about any environmental problem. “Don’t destroy the river to clean it”, they say. Take a ride to the East Side Café and look south at the bridge. This part of the river was dredged and banks dug up to remove the PCBs 10 years ago. It’s looking pretty good. Rip rap is almost covered over, insects on the river bottom have returned, fish are migrating back in, and native shrubs and trees have made impressive growth on the banks. The river wasn’t destroyed but cleaned of some of the highest levels of PCBs ever found in the world.
    It has taken twenty years for many active citizens to get the EPA to order GE to clean the river. Here are positions put forth by many environmental groups. First there should be no more toxic PCB dumps. Hill 78 is the poster boy for this no brainer. GE has proposed over three dumps in Berkshire County. On the Hudson they are taking them to a
    hazardous waste landfill down south. We have supported testing new technologies that destroy PCBs that could make the need for dumps obsolete. We hosted two companies last spring at a forum in Lenox. The same technologies have the potential to be used in the floodplain and possibly could minimize the clean up impact. We need some in -river pilot studies.

    We believe that if we’re going to clean the river that removing the maximum amount of PCBs as possible should be the goal. It makes sense to us to do the best job. We are not dredging fans as one post seems to imply, but this is a construction project and it may be part of the decision. Instead of being fanatical we have looked at dredging and hosted forums on companies and their affiliates that have innovated low impact surgical dredging heads, with shrouds to minimize re-suspension. One company had low impact dewatering facilities that are measured in feet instead of acres. It doesn’t have to be huge clamshell dredges as GE wants you to believe. Innovative companies have come along way but better technology comes with cost. One of the most promising companies called Biotech Restorations have offered free testing to get the ball rolling. Google them up and read. We also think the decision needs flexibility to Modify Clean-up Plans as needed. The consent decree was written on stone.
    GE’s most aggressive published option number eight says 2,250,000 cu. yards will need to be removed. The states says they would remove 25% of the PCB load with their plan. Does this mean 1,700,000 cu.feet are being ignored by the state? If GE’s numbers are right aren’t we leaving huge PCB levels upstream? The state wants to remove 286,000 cu. yds. from Wood’s Pond. PCBs left upstream will re-contaminate the pond during flood events. The state has stated the pond might have to be re-dredged someday. Public health goals will be met by putting up signs warning of the contamination. This was the plan in the 1980’s. We now will have more signs warning of the toxicity of the river. It’s starting to sound very strange. DEP, EPA, and GE present different numbers. Sit tight folks as the EPA has not even released their plan.

  12. Barbara Cianfarini
    October 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    This is my very first time at this site, as well. Thank you to Dan V. and PlanetValenti for this forum; a rare thing in this area. First of all, I have to say that I support 100% everyone’s right here and anywhere in this country to assert their First Amendment Right to Free Speech. BUT, isn’t interesting that when people have poor arguments or NO argument they resort to Name Calling, ‘psuedo-scientific’ nit-picking and Off Topic Distractions? Anyone who disagrees with you is a “Radical Dredging Advocate”, Mr. Corey? Then you must not have read the HUNDREDS of pages of comments by both individual citizens and the Environmental Groups such as mine, “Citizens for PCB Removal” to the EPA and the Remedy Review Board over the last 10 years; all available on EPA’s website. In our Comments we clearly state that we want the river and surrounding floodplain treated as sensitively and thoughtfully as possible and advocate for pilot studies using newer less invasive techniques; using dredging ONLY as a Last Resort, where necessary. We mirror the Comments of many of the Environmental Groups such as BEAT, HEAL, HVA, HRR and others who have been at the forefront of this issue for over TEN years on EPA’s Citizens Coordinating Council (CCC), who’s meetings are ALWAYS open to the public, and have included HUNDREDS if not thousands of hours of scientific discussion, presentations, charts, graphs and expert testimony over the last decade plus. We also stand with groups such as HRI and RiverKeepers that have been at this issue for over two decades. Therefore, I might call YOU an ULCOA (“Uninformed Late-Coming Ostrich Approacher”) if I didn’t abhor Name Calling. “Silence Dog Oo-d” and Dave Brubriski, if you get cancer, I hope you are treated with the very same amount of empathy, compassion, full knowledge and intelligence that you display toward Mr. Martindale’s grandfather and ‘statistical others’. Or, should I say WHEN you get cancer since statistically women have a lifetime one in four chance now, and men have a lifetime one in three chance, and the odds for cancer are increasing over time? You can ‘verify’ that stat at the American Cancer Society Website. And, like it or not, you DO live in a High Risk area for Cancer as PCB’s and other VOC’s persist in our soil, groundwater and air THROUGH OUT Berkshire County. As for research comparing general cancer rates and this area’s rates, Mr. Brubriski, we have been calling for a comprehensive Health Study of this area for over twenty years. An independent study of GE workers in the 70’s and 80’s (Wegman Study) was bought up and squelched by GE and never released. A Health Study of GE workers and plant-adjacent residents in the late 90’s was so watered-down and (intentionally??) botched as to be useless. If there is no significant data to be gained from these studies, then why do the powers that be work so hard to avoid them? The EPA lists three categories of ‘potential’ carcinogens: Known, Probable, and Suspected. There are only SIX, last I knew, in the Known Category, including Uranium. That is because to be included in this category, it must be proven at a cellular level. The next category – Probable – means that there is an abundance of empirical evidence that is pointing to the conclusion of ‘carcinogen’, it just hasn’t been proven at the higher standard of the top category. Cigarettes, or more accurately, the chemicals in them, are in this category. Do we need to have them in the top category in order to recommend to people not to smoke? Likewise, PCB’s are in this category: PROBABLE CARCINOGEN. We also know that they are in the SEDIMENT (SOIL) of the River and its banks, they’re in the water column and groundwater of Pittsfield and beyond, and PCBs volatilize (evaporate) into the air that we all breathe in the “Beautiful Berkshires”. Do we need MORE reason than that to address the river contamination NOW and as thoroughly as we can? Mr. Corey, you worry about the money being spent on the Cleanup, but what about all the money being spent on Health Care in this county from the (PROBABLE) effects of PCBs? The other main cancers suspected of being caused by PCB’s are Breast Cancer and Liver Cancer. October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Are you going to tell a woman with Breast Cancer you would NOT support doing everything possible to prevent another woman from suffering her same fate? We do all kinds of “WALKS” for a “CURE” in this country (a waste of time/energy – don’t get me started!) but what about DOING SOMETHING to ADDRESS the CAUSES of these diseases? Is THAT a BETTER use of the money????? There is also evidence that PCB’s are connected to other human afflictions including asthma, diabetes, heart disease and lowered IQ. Do you have children or grandchildren, Mr. Corey? Mr. Brubriski? All the other naysayers? Can you look them in the eye and say their health was not worth the money or the effort or the short inconvenience now? All the other ‘arguments’ here are just Distractions from the main issue. This Cleanup is NOT going to take 50 years. The first 2.5 miles has not taken 50 years. NO ONE along the river has been inconvenienced for more than three years, at the most, the majority for less than ONE year. Why are we looking for a Thorough Cleanup? Because, like our Constitution says, we are doing this For the People. Not just the Sportsmen, not just the canoeists, not just the abutters, not just the environmentalists, but For the People, ALL the People, and ESPECIALLY the People of our Future: The CHILDREN. Our Children and Grandchildren deserve a CLEAN, fishable, swimmable, boatable River without fear of contamination. As I’ve said many times before, to do any less is Short-sighted and Selfish.
    One last thing about money: Why are the ‘worriers’ of this issue not concerned with all the money GE has spent over the last four decades to thwart a full Cleanup? If one follows that money trail they will find that the ‘leaders’ of the “Moderate” (mostly do nothing) approach are paid by GE in one form or another to do GE’s bidding. NONE of the environmental groups mentioned make their living advocating for the River or supporting the cleanup. What does that tell you?

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      THE PLANET thanks you for this great contribution to the discussion.

        • Barbara Cianfarini
          October 12, 2011 at 8:32 am #

          So is your point that because there are a lot of carcinogens in the world, MOST of them man-made and distributed, we should just throw our hands up in the air, and leave known massive amounts in our immediate environment to continue to poison future generations of both wildlife and people?

          We’re all going to (get cancer and) die anyway, so “Who Cares?”?

          “The fetus that receives [PCBs] becomes something other than it might have been. Too much testing of chemicals takes place…in our children’s bodies.”
          -JP Meyers, PhD, W. Alton Jones Foundation

          “I would allege to you that the ultimate pollution is pollution that affects the cognitive ability of future generations.”
          -David Carpenter, MD, School of Public Health, SUNY Albany

  13. Dave Bubriski
    October 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Barbara, I’ll respond more later but for now I’m confused by people being upset over the word radical. Dredging is quite a radical change or has the defination of the word changed since this morning? Why are you upset over a word used in accordance with it’s defination?????

    • Barbara Cianfarini
      October 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      “DefinAtion”? Seriously? Oh, there are so many ways I could go with this, but I’ll resist temptation and be “nice”…..

      THAT’S the primary thing ‘confusing’ you? And why, after all these comments, did you determine that the ONLY (admitted) female contributor to this discussion is “upset”? Is that straight out of the Romney/Perry/Santorum Playbook?

      Well, I’ll tell you, Mr Brubriski. We’re ‘upset’ because the word “Radical” was used to describe PEOPLE, not just the Cleanup itself. That’s NAME-CALLING and is most often used by people who don’t have the facts nor a good understanding of the issue they are debating. Since the very beginning of this ‘fight’, dating back to 1997 for me, individually, the environmental side has been all about the issues of the Cleanup, not personal attacks on people with opposing views. Secondly, Dredging is not “radical” in terms of the fact that it is the most commonly used technique by the EPA. Sadly, it is the ‘fundamental’ (one defin*I*tion of the word “radical”; Websters New World Dictionary.) technique used, not ‘extreme’ in terms of commonality. And thirdly, this label placed upon PEOPLE working for the best cleanup possible was both inaccurate and unfair, as anyone who’d taken the time and effort to attend ANY PCB meeting in the last few years or read our Comments as posted online would know. As I stated above, we will accept dredging only as it is necessary, while advocating that more sensitive, careful, innovative, surgical and strategic options. Once these options, having been fully considered, tested and, for all the right reasons (COST NOT being one of them) – are rejected; then dredging becomes A Necessary Evil, if you will.

      It is highly ironic and almost poetic that PCB’s are strongly suspected to cause Cancer. With Cancer, the first and most commonly offered and recommended treatment is usually surgery, which is quite a drastic and ‘radical’ experience – as anyone who has undergone such will tell you – but often is most NECESSARY and CURATIVE. One hopes that one’s surgeon is very skilled and competent, and that s/he will remove all the ‘contamination’, ie, Cancer, but leave as much healthy tissue alone as possible; maintaining a delicate balance between aggressive treatment and patient-sparing compassion. Dredging, in comparison, is much like this. NO ONE “WANTS” to ‘destroy’ the River to Save It, but the data supports that leaving these toxins in the environment to poison both critters and people ad infinitum, move around (the Earth DOES move constantly) and be subject to Mother Nature’s power (such as this summer’s hurricanes/torrential rain and flooding) is just folly. Better to get at it NOW, using the best technology can offer us at this time, and do all we can to foster the most complete Restoration possible. Better than letting the Patient die from the disease within. Interestingly enough, my dictionary offers “thorough” as one definition of “radical”, as in “a radical change in one’s life.” In that sense, I’m All For a “Radical” Cleanup! How can ANYONE who *truly understands* the risks to human and environmental Health of leaving the PCB’s in the watershed disagree with THAT?

      • Dave Bubriski
        October 12, 2011 at 3:53 am #

        Barbara, sorry for any typos that offended you. By the way my name is not bRubriski and you have consistently and deliberately misspelled. Perhaps a passive aggressive form of name calling? Or maybe just old fashioned bullying?

        And what do Romney/Perry/Santorum have to go with this discussion?

        And Barbara perhaps you have data that you can share with me as this question has gone unanswered…..

        in the portion of the river between the confluence and the pond how would one come into contact with chlorinated diphenyl or any other substance? And how long would one have to stay in contact with it in order to experience what these workers experienced in 1937? For those in the ward 4 area that’s close to the river how much danger would you say we are in? If the river were dredged as you think it should be how much would the risk cancer or any other disease decrease? Thanks.

        • Barbara Cianfarini
          October 12, 2011 at 7:52 am #

          Mr Bubriski, I apologize for the name misspell; it was NOT intentional in anyway; just a case of mild dyslexia, I assure you. You’ll notice that, since I’ve never met you, I give you the respect of your formal name, and not the familiarity of your first name. But, I know my last name is a challenge, so, of course, no disrespect is inferred from you using my first name, only. And, my reference should have been to Scott Brown with his sexist comments regarding Ms. Warren and the sparring about the nude calendar issue….because taking a debate to the lowest common denominator is a favorite right wing tactic, especially when women are involved.
          As to the “data” you are seeking, I would refer you to the EPA’s Human Risk Assessment, and very extensive and thorough report, which, by the way, has been thoroughly presented, explained, referenced, discussed and dissected at many, many public CCC meetings over the years. If you want ‘come in contact’ with PCBs I would encourage you to wade in the river sediments and bank soils with bare feet, since PCBs bind to the soil but are fat soluble so they tend to absorb through the skin and stay in one’s fat tissues for life with extremely slow removal by one’s elimination system. Another way is to dig in said soil, including the floodplain, and for added exposure plant a vegetable garden with plants that can absorb the PCBs in their high fat tissues, such as corn. Or, a quick way would be to eat the fish, or most especially the ducks within the watershed, as those have been found, individually, to exceed the maximum “safe” toxic exposures when tested, to the point that they triggered the necessity to dispose of them via TOSCA regulations. Or the long slow way would be to breathe the air along the river within a three mile radius, as PCBs volatilize over time, letting the PCBs accumulate, exposing one to both the ‘low dose’ risks including endocrine inhibition and endocrine mimicking, which has been linked to a host of problems such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, attention/concentration problems in children, lowered IQ (by as much as 6 pts average in the population), skin reactions, both male and female infertility, and a range of other ‘female problems.’ I refer you to Dr. David Carpenter’s Studies as well as the numerous peer reviewed studies that you will find if you just google “PCB Health Effects”.
          The point is, there is a wide range of human (and non-human) suffering that is linked to the whole spectrum of differing levels of PCB congeners and the level of exposure to each one or a combination of them.
          I not sure anyone can give you a definitive time/risk ratio, but are you willing to be the human test subject to find out? Are you willing to enforce that on your children? Are you willing to force EVERYONE within the watershed to be an unwitting ‘experiment’ in order to ‘prove’ that PCBs are ‘safe’? Your Welcome.

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 9:19 am #

            Again I’m sure how Scott Brown and Ms. Warren are involved in this discussion but wasn’t it Warren who slurred Brown and she said something about keeping her clothes on? What did she mean by her remark? Was her comment fair? And what does it have to do with a run for the U.S. Senate?

            I believe that the assumptions that the EPA makes are 90 days a year for 70 years. How much will your approach reduce that risk?

          • danvalenti
            October 12, 2011 at 11:31 am #

            Warren started this when she first brought up a reference to Brown’s posing in a magazine sans clothing. The following day, at a debate, in other words with Warren there in the room (so that he gave her the respect of quipping to her face and not making the remark when she wasn’t there, as Warren did to him the day before), he replied in kind. She said words to the effect of, “At least I didn’t take my clothes off for money.” Brown relied something like, “And thank God you didn’t.” It was funny, dead-on, and fair game.

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 9:30 am #

            Barbara you stated

            “because taking a debate to the lowest common denominator is a favorite right wing tactic, especially when women are involved.”

            Was Hillary Clinton fairly treated by the liberal media?

            Do you think Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman are victims of sexism in the media?

            Were you upset when President Obama told a female reporter “hold on a minute “sweetie”?

            Perhaps you were upset and I missed your post.

            And please feel free to use my first name.

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 9:33 am #

            should read I’m not sure in my post regarding Warren/Brown

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 10:01 am #

            All I’m asking for is full disclosure from everyone associated with the controversy and for all perspectives to very critically evaluated. Who could disagree with that?

          • danvalenti
            October 12, 2011 at 11:28 am #

            No reasonable person would resist full disclosure.

    • scott
      October 12, 2011 at 4:27 am #

      Because it gives the impression that people who want a clean environment are irrational which isn’t the case.

      • Dave Bubriski
        October 12, 2011 at 4:49 am #

        Scott, life is like a Rorschach test and everything is in some ways like an ink blot. What people see tells you everything about the person and nothing about the ink blot

        • scott
          October 12, 2011 at 5:39 am #

          No Dave the poisons are REAL maybe a better analogy would be life is like a desert some people just have their head in the sand.

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 5:55 am #

            who said poisons aren’t real?

  14. Dave Bubriski
    October 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Can anyone answer this question that was posed earlier?

    Tim, in the portion of the river between the confluence and the pond how would one come into contact with chlorinated diphenyl? And how long would one have to stay in contact with it in order to experience what these workers experienced in 1937? For those in the ward 4 area that’s close to the river how much danger would you say we are in? If the river were dredged as you think it should be how much would the risk cancer or any other disease decrease? Thanks.

    • scott
      October 12, 2011 at 4:28 am #

      Dave why don’t you go for a swim and let us know what you find out.

      • Dave Bubriski
        October 12, 2011 at 4:38 am #

        Childish answer Scott

        • scott
          October 12, 2011 at 5:36 am #

          Well if there’s nothing to worry about what are you afraid of?

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 12, 2011 at 7:03 am #

            when did I express fear?

  15. Dave Bubriski
    October 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Tim, in the portion of the river between the confluence and the pond how would one come into contact with chlorinated diphenyl? And how long would one have to stay in contact with it in order to experience what these workers experienced in 1937? For those in the ward 4 area that’s close to the river how much danger would you say we are in? If the river were dredged as you think it should be how much would the risk cancer or any other disease decrease? Thanks? What’s the story on those worms that you felt held so much promise? Are they still being studied?

  16. Dave Bubriski
    October 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Tim, kindly disregard the worm question you have answered it

  17. Dave Bubriski
    October 12, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    BC says…..“Radical” was used to describe PEOPLE….

    I did not use the word radical to describe PEOPLE… was used to describe dredging

    • Barbara Cianfarini
      October 12, 2011 at 8:08 am #

      I did not accuse YOU, Mr. Bubriski, of using the word ‘radical’ to describe people, but Mr. Irwin Corey most certainly did so in his post above, even shortening it to “RDA’s” as a label and using it to as derogatory term to lump everyone who disagrees with him, as in “The RDA’s…..” See my post above as to why that is WRONG on so many levels.

      • Dave Bubriski
        October 12, 2011 at 9:39 am #

        Barbara, I don’t know about Irwin Corey but I don’t think YOU are a Radical but I believe that dredging is radical. Perhaps we’ll meet in Lenox tonight.

  18. scott
    October 12, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    MONSANTO is the leading company in GMO food crops. Do you think they are being as honest with the health impact of these food crops as they were with the introduction of PCB’s? Or would this make me a radical environmentalist extremist?

    • Dave Bubriski
      October 12, 2011 at 4:44 am #

      Scotty, choose your own label if you think it’s important

      • scott
        October 12, 2011 at 5:35 am #

        I think people who don’t want a clean environment are radical predominantly right wing elitist who put monetary gain over the well being of humans and nature.

        • Dave Bubriski
          October 12, 2011 at 5:57 am #

          of course you get to define all the terms in you statement

        • Dave Bubriski
          October 12, 2011 at 11:00 am #

          thank heavans you didn’t resort to name calling

          • scott
            October 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

            What would calling you names do? People should be more outraged then they are. According to the constitution we all have a right to speak. But be held accountable for what we say right? I’m sure thats what was intended.

        • Ray Ovac
          October 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

          Scott, I consider myself an ultra right-wing elitist and I have no problem whatsoever with an ULTRA-RADICAL clean-up using the MOST radically aggressive techniques available and possible to remove every damn gram of PCB’s, VOC’s, SVOC’s ,and every other toxic compound and substance GE has dumped into this river. As stated above, I’m happily willing as a GE shareowner to forego a portion of my GE dividend each quarter (I suggested 3 cents — out of the current 15 cents — per share per quarter for a total of more than $1.2 Billion PER YEAR) for as long as it takes to remediate not only the Rest of the River, but also Silver Lake (the biggest,most complex problem area in this entire cleanup), Hill 78, along with all the other known and unknown dump sites in Pittsfield and surrounding Berkshire County. I only hope this proves to you how us wascally wadical wight wing elitists are more than willing to put the well being of humans and nature over mere monetary gain especially when it comes to cleaning up an environmental disaster. Now, what are YOU willing to do. Let’s see YOU put your money where your mouth is.

          • Zelda
            October 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

            As an ultra right wing elitist don’t you guys breath secret right wing clean air unavailable to us who are not in on the secrete conspiracy? Could I suggest that a portion of your dividend be set aside to purchase tin foil helments so the corporate masters can’t read the thoughts of us democrats? Could the PCB low IQ connection explain why there are a greater portion of democrats in the Berkshires than in other areas of the state?

  19. Dave Bubriski
    October 12, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    I apologize in advance to the typo police

  20. Barbara Cianfarini
    October 13, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    In regards to the Brown/Warren thread, to respond to Dave B’s questions, my answers are “No, Yes, and Yes.”
    As to Dan V’s post, you are right, Ms. Warren “started” it, and maybe it was ‘funny’, but her comments related to *behavior* and decision-making, which is very much relevant to a leadership campaign, and Mr. Brown’s comment was to *appearance*, which is NOT relevant to a leadership campaign. But, I’ve caused us to ‘digress’ from the main issue at hand here: PCBs and whether to fully clean the Housatonic, – or ‘not’.

    • Dave Bubriski
      October 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      Barbara, in regards to Warren/Brown…..I think if both of them had it to do over they would have spoken differently….if either one of them decided to prance around in their birthday suits now it would be an issue but I’m not so sure that bringing up Brown’s nudie Cosmo shot from many years ago has any meaning to the impending campaign. I think I correctly assigned your Y’s and N’s to the questions I asked you and I think we agree.