PRODUCTIVE MEETING LAST NIGHT IN LENOX … BB AGAIN FAILS ITS READERSHIP … SILVER LAKE, CLEAN DON’T CAP … and … THE STOOLEY REPORTS ON STATE REP RADIO DEBATE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, OCT. 13, 2011) — From the accounts we’ve received from various sources, the informational meeting last night in a dimly-lit Lenox Town Hall (power outage, operating on generators) was (a) worthwhile (b) mostly reasoned (c) “passionately dispassionate” and (d) leaving the crowd wanting more. By those measures, it seems a success.
THE PLANET intended to make it in poison — check that, in person — but while preparing to depart for Lenox, we had to answer a distress call from a damsel, auto related, that took us from the Bat Cave to the Prime Outlets in Lee. We missed the meeting, alas, but ended up with 15 bars of 90% dark chocolate from the fabulous Lindt outlet.
Nonetheless, we have been briefed, and since this was an informational meeting wherein the state presented its plan for dealing with the Housatonic River basically from south Pittsfield to Connecticut, we feel reasonalbly weel apprised of the official proceedings. Keep in mind that the state Department of Environmental Conservation presented a recommendation. This issue won’t be decided until 2012 sometime.
WHERE’S THE COLOR?
We did miss the color and flavor of the “unofficial” proceedings, and, we think, that’s where the story lies. That is untold. The Boring Broadsheet certainly didn’t tell it (see below), and if anyone wants to report on this aspect, please send your comments to THE PLANET for consideration.
THE PLANET would welcome commentary from those who attended the meeting.
We can add as a coda a sun ray about the coverage of the Boring Broadsheet of last night’s meeting. The area’s only daily has ignored this story to a profound degree of negligence. The BB has not only failed to educate the public on anything but the GE spin of this monstrous tale of industrial sin, but it perpetuates its transgressions when it provides token coverage to a meeting such as last night’s.
BB FAILS CITIZENS ONCE AGAIN, THOUGH ITS NOT TREVOR JONES’ FAULT
Trevor Jones’ piece provides a decent account of the state’s position, and THE PLANET doesn’t have issue there. The piece, however, comes out of nowhere, out of context similar to the one this web site has provided of these previous days, weeks, and months. GE’s poisoning of Pittsfield and environs is the LARGEST SINGLE ISSUE AFFECTING THE CITY AND THE COUNTY. And yet …
And yet, the BB runs no sidebars to Jones’ reportage detailing the views of either the Ward 4 Rest of River Group or the advocates of a more extensive cleanup such as that championed by Tim Gray and the Housatonic River Initiative. It budgets a tiny space on the front page and an even tinier jump inside to this huge story, forcing Jones to include two throwaway paragraphs on the jump page of the piece on these important parts of the story. His management sent Jones into battle without the proper equipment. There should have been three reporters there: one to cover the meeting, and two to get the rest of the story.
The BB behaves as if it has been bought and sold on this story of GE’s hit-and-run murder of Pittsfield. It will twist information so as not to anger GE and not tick off the GOB Establishment that both currently have Pittsfield in an iron grip of complacency and censorship. While the BB rag dies its slow death from declining circulation, it will do all it can to please its corporate and special-interest masters. Why? Where are the rewards for such an unconscionable policy? And who are the beneficiaries?
REST OF RIVER IS BIG, BUT SILVER LAKE IS BIGGER … IN FACT, SILVER LAKE IS THE BIGGEST UNADDRESSED MATTER IN THIS ENTIRE TOXIC MESS
The Rest of the River occupies just one slot, second place at that, in the two aspects of the horrible problem GE left to the city of Pittsfield when it left town, taking its jobs and leaving its poisons with us. What do we do about Pittsfield?
Don’t be fooled by the Consent Agreement. It settled nothing. That foul deal didn’t put the matter to rest.
THE IMPORTANT THING TO FOCUS ON: The agreement contains language for reopening the provisions, as this site exclusively shared yesterday. Prime among the matters that need revisiting are, in order: Cleaning Silver Lake, removing Hill 78, and tracing down the currently unknown toxic dumps scattered throughout the city (all of Merrill Road, for example, from the East Street intersection to Allendale, especially land on the eastern part).
SILVER LAKE: CLEAN IT, DON’T CAP IT or FIRE ON THE WATER
The Consent Agreement wants to place a cap on a century’s worth of poisons on the lake bottom, a cap that will likely continue the poisoning of Pittsfield’s groundwater (making it forever unusable) and permit leeching into the Housatonic, polluting it again after the cleanup. Remember, over time, the earth, being alive and dynamic, moves. The cap will move, too, and then what? The river polluted, all over again.
For nearly a century, GE poured the worst of its industrial poisons into Silver Lake, destroying what for centuries previous had been one of the ecological wonders of Pittsfield. GE poured so much toxicity into Silver Lake that it would occasionally catch on fire. Talk to the old timers about that.
Under the woeful Consent Decreee, where city officials sold Pittsfield into the lake and down the river for 30 pieces of silver amounting to $10 million (probably less than six month’s compensation of Jeff Immelt), Silver Lake will have a small portion of its 26 acres dredged. The vast majority of the old GE poisons will be left there, swept under the rug by a cap of clean fill.
Meanwhile, PCB levels in fish taken from Silver Lake, incidentally, register 200 ppm, 100 TIMES the threshold for safe consumption.
In its deepest part, Silver Lake goes down 30 feet. It receives water flow from several municipal storm drains. A 48-inch diameter concrete conduit, located near Fenn and East streets, connects the lake to the Housatonic River. This conduit discharges water from the lake to the river. In short, there’s a ton of aquatic inflow-outflow exchanges from city-to-lake-to-river that continuously happen under the surface. Leaving the toxicity in place, capped, begs for the continuance of a nightmare.
‘HISTORIC’ LEVELS OF POLLUTION
PCBs and a marathon list of other toxins infest the lake bottom, sediment, bank soils, and surface water. The federal EPA reports that “discharges of PCBs and other chemicals [unspecified]” have been “historic.” The EPA doesn’t use such a word lightly.
“Historic.” That means one of the most extensive examples in history. That is what GE and the Consent Agreement want to … cap. They don’t want to get rid of the poisons. They want to cap the poisons.
The sinful Consent Decree wants to cap this “historic” level of pollution and dredge a mere 400 cubic yards of “hot spot” sediment, next to what the EPA calls “one of the historic GE outfalls.”
Unless this decree is reopened, remediation of the bank soil and capping of the lake will begin later this year, according to the EPA. Documents on Silver Lake are available at www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/silverlake.html. There is a section on Silver Lake available at the EPA site under the “Reports” tab.
STOOLEY SHARES THOUGHTS ON STATE REP’S RACE, DEBATE
In other news, we hear from The Stooley these thoughts on the recently concluded state rep’s debate on WBRK, moderated by Bill Sturgeon and Donna Todd Rivers.
The Stooley writes:
I was at a party in your next of the woods in the town of Stockbridge last summer and the subject of Tanglewood came up. I tried to make a joke that went over like a pregnant pole vaulter. “Don’t you really think the conductor has it pretty easy, just standing up there with the baton in front of the orchestra”?
Well the WBRK debate came off the same way.
“Let’s all tell where you’re having your victory parties.” Great non-question.
PAM MALUMPHY: ” I’m going to be at Mazzeo’s North, and last but not least I’m having an ice cream party tomorrow for seniors.
MARK JESTER: “I’m going to be at American Legion on Wendell Avenue, fighting Gerry Lee for a barstool.”
MARK MILLER: “I’m going to be at Baba Louie’s on Depot Street and if you don’t vote for me I wish you’d vote for Mark Jester. We need a General Court Jester.
TFB: (CASUALLY, AS COOL AS POSSIBLE WHILE TRYING TO HOLD BACK HER EXCITEMENT) I’m going to be at the Itam this Friday with Gov. Deval Patrick being there bring everyone it’s free it’s to get-out-the-vote rally. It’s sort of the only way I can fill up a room because the unity rally certainly didn’t work out very well did it? I had, like, 30 people there compared to No Show’s 200 the last time we fooled the voters. But not Friday, cuz Deval will be there, Jimmy Ruberto and maybe even some of the GOB’s will be there to get out the vote for TFB don’t miss it. I’m not charging a dime for it. It’s my way of assembling an upstaged event cuz I’m so popular huh…”
The Stooley sent up a copy of the invitation he received to the “free” event with TFB and the guv.
“Please join Governor Deval Patrick as we kick off GOTV weekend for Tricia’s campaign. The Itam’s classic [gummy-bear] pasta will be featured and we will Get Out The Vote!”
Under more info, we read: “Suggested donation: $25, $50, $100. Kids free (under 18??).”
At a hundred clams apiece, TFB should do pretty good by the guv. Wonder how much he’s getting under the table in addition to some free pasta? Maybe a jar of sauce?
THE PLANET thanks The Stooley for his report from the field.
TOMORROW THE PLANET TAKES A LOOK AT HILL 78 AND ASKS WHY THE TRANSCRIPTS LEADING UP TO THE NEFARIOUS CONSENT DECREE HAVE NEVER BEEN MADE PUBLIC? UNTIL THEN, AMIGOS AND AMIGAS …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.