TWO QUESTIONS LOOM ON GE-POLLUTION QUESTION; ONE WILL OCCUPY CENTER STAGE TONIGHT IN LENOX; PLANET OFFERS A PREAMBLE OF COMMENTARY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, OCT. 12, 2011) — Two enormous questions loom over Berkshire County and the county seat, Pittsfield, Mass., with respect to the industrial toxins left in the air, water, and soil by General Electric Co. after it pulled out of the area:
(1) What should be done about the Rest of the River (south of Pittsfield past the points already remediated)?
(2) Should Pittsfield press for a reopener in the Consent Agreement and address matters that were left unatttended, including the removal of Hill 78, the full cleanup (not just a capping) of Silver Lake, and — in an area not addressed whatsoever by the agreement — the pollution in Pittsfield’s groundwater?
PITTSFIELD AND (ESPECIALLY) ENVIRONS: CENTER STAGE TONIGHT, AT 6:30 P.M., IN LENOX
The second of these questions should be, though it hasn’t been, THE issue in the upcoming campaigns for state legislature and municipal office. For some reason, candidates themselves and debate moderators have been reluctant to fully explore the question of reopeners.
The first of these questions assumes a place front and center on the stage tonight at Lenox Town Hall. At the meeting, the state will present its favored plan for addressing the Rest of the River. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. One hour prior to that, there will be a rally outside town hall sponsored by those who favor a full cleanup of the river. It promises to be a significant evening that may have repercussions for years, decades, and even eons to come. We hope everyone who can make this meeting will attend.
Dictatorships and other forms of authoritarian governments do not have to bother with the often cumbersome and confusing steps a democratic republic takes when confronting such an issue. Authoritarian rule decides and implements, imposing its will from the top down. In a republic, theoretically at least, the decision percolates from the ground up.
We know, however, that when multinational conglomerates such as General Electric are involved, and when politicians are so beholding to Big Money that they will not listen to We The People, the potential for abuse remains high. You might say, in this case, the abuse meter is on Red Alert. This is not to suggest definitively that the fix is in, but everyone must be alert to that possibility.
Democracies involve a multiplicity of views that, somehow, must coalesce into action that benefits the most people and satisfies as many qualified interests as possible. It’s a lousy way to govern, but aren’t all the other ways so much worse? These many viewpoints in the free marketplace of ideas must be heard tonight. That’s why THE PLANET has been driving this issue, nearly exclusively, for the past week.
‘JOBS’ PROBLEM DIRECTLY TIED TO POLLUTION, or THE LOCAL ‘DIRTY SECRET’ THAT AREA SPECIAL INTEREST WON’T PUBLICLY ADMIT BUT THAT THE REST OF THE BUSINESS WORLD KNOWS
We can think of no other local issue of greater importance. Candidates for office will say “jobs.” THE PLANET responds: “Pollution.” The dirty secret that no office holder wants to publicly acknowledge about the local economy is the link between the pollution and Pittsfield’s maddening inability to significantly expand its tax base by bringing in new businesses.
Simply put, the word is out: Pittsfield is toxic. Come here and you risk becoming embroiled in poison. With the fierce competition among communities nationwide and worldwide, when handicapped by the uncounted tons of industrial toxins still in its environment, Pittsfield has no chance. Unless the pollution is removed or made inert, Pittsfield has no chance in this global competition.
At the meeting tonight, it’s important that every claim made by every party be challenged. The data, information, reason, and logic alone should decide this question. Emotions, while they can be useful in providing impetus to action, should not be the triggers to action.
GUEST COMMENTARY: FULL-SCALE REMOVAL OF POISONS WORKS WELL FOR THE ENVIRONMENT’
By CHARLIE CIANFARINI
Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
No one expected in a two-week period an earthquake, a hurricane, and a tropical storm to affect our area late this summer, but these events were timely as we move toward a decision on the Rest of the River PCB cleanup in the hands of the US EPA.
At the Citizens Coordinating Council meeting on Sept. 14th, a report was given by EPA and GE on how the banks of the first two miles of the Housatonic River Restoration project responded to these events, especially high water flows and flooding. The results could not be better. There was almost no loss of riverbank or vegetation along this stretch of the river and while there was flooding, and ultimately there was protection to the river and personal properties along the river.
Just go and see for yourself the areas of the river between the Newell Street bridge and Fred Garner Park (the first two and a half miles) and you see vegetation, trees, critters and a thriving river and eco-system.
This proves that a well engineered and executed remediation and restoration project is effective. It also makes the argument that the Rest of the River cleanup can be designed and completed to be just as successful and will result in a river that will be clean from PCBs and other toxins in the sediment and still be a beautiful, vibrant, healthy, living waterway.
It is time for all the citizens, businesses, politicians, agencies and independent groups to support the science, stop the politics, and stand with the EPA in what should be a complete remediation and restoration of the Rest of the River in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
THE PLANET thanks Mr. Cianfarini for this commentary.
WHO IS DAVE MARTINDALE?
He didn’t go looking for attention. He doesn’t want the spotlight. He loathes the attention. He doesn’t want to be the story. He is Dave Martindale, who has assumed a leading role in this question of GE, pollutants, and politics.
We called him an “environmentalist.” We call our good friend Dave Bubriski and “environmentalist.” We use that term in its broadest sense, to indicate someone who cares about the air, water, and land that many too-often take for granted and abuse. An environmentalist who also makes his or her career of it on the science side we call an “ecologist.” The two, though related, are not the same. Every person who attends the meeting tonight in Lenox is an “environmentalist.”
With that, we present this note Dave Martindale sent to THE PLANET that, we think, definitely answers the question that has become this discussion’s equivalent of “Who is John Galt.”
“Who is Dave Martindale”?
THE PLANET takes liberty and publishes this e-mail, which speaks volumes about this man’s intentions and integrity:
THE PLANET thanks Dave for resisting his impulse to remain in the background. His form of activism — from right-minded people who actually find activism uncomfortable — will be what saves Pittsfield and environs, if that is to happen.
AGAIN, WE FOUND EVENTS PRECLUDING OUR GAME PLAN, WHICH WAS TODAY TO PRESENT MORE INFORMATION ON HILL 78 AND SILVER LAKE. THAT IS THE LUXURY ONE HAS WHEN ONE OWNS THE MEDIUM.
WE CAN DO WHAT WE WISH AND WHAT WE THINK WILL BE THE MOST HELPFUL. NO ‘OWNERS’ CAN CONTROL WHAT WE SAY, AND NO ADVERTISERS CAN PRESSURE US TO SPIKE STORIES. WE ARE, WITHOUT DOUBT, THE FREEST MEDIUM OF MASS COMMUNICATION IN THE AREA. THIS SITE HAS GROWN ONLY AND EXCLUSIVELY ON AND BY WORD OF MOUTH. WE ACCEPT NO ADVERTISING SO THAT WE CANNOT BE INFLUENCED. WE BUY NO ADVERTISING BECAUSE, AS OF YET, WE HAVEN’T NEEDED IT. WE THE PEOPLE HAVE MADE THIS SITE, AND WE THANK EVERYONE — FRIEND AND FOE ALIKE — FOR THEIR ‘SAY.’
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.’
LOVE TO ALL.