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No Berkshires PCB dumps – period!

By Tuesday, Feb 18, 2020 Letters 4

To the editor:

Have you heard: “It’s the best we could get, it’s a done deal, and this chapter will be over”? Congressmen, state representatives and selectboard officials may have spoken though the townspeople haven’t.

Creating a local 20-acre PCB mud dump hundreds of feet high and less than hundreds of feet from the Housatonic River is wrong for many reasons. It’s wrong because EPA/GE is planning on putting all Berkshire towns’ waste on Lee to deal with and to get out of the cost of having to ship it off-site. Yes, a small amount of material contaminated over 50 ppm will be shipped out to a specialized facility, though with GE’s track record how can we trust that?

EPA/GE’s plan is also wrong because it places the dump too close to the river. We’re told a mountain of PCB mud isn’t going to leak into the groundwater. We’re told to trust the liner and not to worry about 100-year rain events as they fill up the mountain / pool. In terms of confidence, GE is already agreeing to pay the hook-up fee for people close to the dump to be off their wells and on to town water. We’re told a mountain of PCB mud isn’t going to act like a giant compost pile, ferment and volatilize PCB’s into the air. We’ve all smelled regular dumps; imagine inhaling super toxic off-gas instead.

Yes, leaving the PCB’s in the river is the biggest wrong. Those PCB’s crawl their way into our food supply and they volatilize into the air seasonally. An unrepaired river keeps the river and the beings that live near it to have to carry the toxic burden for generations. Cancer, alcoholism and many collateral damages result from PCB exposure.

More life can return after remediation and thrives. Let’s not comprise now what has been a 4-decades long fight, led by Housatonic River Initiative (HRI), for corporate accountability for our healing. If GE can make profits by leaving our town and leaving poison here, then they can repair the damage they caused while here.

Yes, shipping PCB’s is wrong just like sentencing a murderer to prison is wrong. If you are all up to fight for remediation and for restructuring the toxic waste disposal culture, I am all for it. However, let’s not be gaslit into believing we locally have to carry the burden for GE’s 30 years of dumping a chemical they knew caused cancer into our river. Yes, ideally, we want the EPA to catch up with the science and focus on bioremediation. Since EPA has been 10 years behind the times, then we are holding to the safer — yes problematic — shipping of the waste off site to federally sanctioned facilities. Maybe when the EPA does catch up, they’ll force those megasites to bioremediate and we can support that.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for science and sadly EPA, in this fight, has proven they are only as good as the standards we hold them to. Let the EPA know there will not be a local dump, period. Have your voice heard and support Lee and come to the EPA town meetings this week Wednesday (Feb. 19) at Lee High and Thursday (Feb. 20) at MMRHS, both at 6 p.m.

Luke Pryjma

Great Barrington


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