Happy Tuesday, readers! This week’s blog blurb brought to you by ecoSPEARS will showcase some of last week’s key articles and news regarding domestic pollution in the United States, taking a step back from latest issues involving the EPA and focusing once again on generating greater public awareness to toxins such as PCBs that many Americans may not be aware exist in their own communities.
The first piece of news hits home for our team, and our friends and families here in Orlando, FL. On February 10th, the Orlando Sentinel published an article on the Superfund site located in downtown Sanford, a historic community with a history of crime, poverty, gang violence.
While efforts by municipal officials have been made to revitalize the community of downtown Sanford (now home to a number of microbreweries, family-owned shops and award-winning restaurants) the federal US government recently announced its plan to remediate the 1-acre Superfund site at 121 S. Palmetto Avenue. The site was placed on the Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2010 due to past businesses in the area releasing contaminants which have since leeched into surrounding soil and groundwater. The EPA has previously contamination at the site is not a direct threat to local residents.
More news from further north out of Minden, WV hit the press last Friday. Gov. Jim Justice halted construction of a sewer line running through Minden until EPA releases a report on PCB findings in “the most toxic town” in the US. Contractors at the site have been dumping excavated soil from the project near a park in Oak Hill, WV to the dismay of local citizens, although Oak Hill officials said the soil currently present in Oak Hill from Minden contains no PCB contamination. Contractors at the site mirrored this claim when they said they did not excavate soil from areas of Minden known to contain PCBs. Despite this, citizens of both Minden and Oak Hill have stood behind Gov. Justice’s decision to halt current construction efforts as many are wary that further excavation could cause displacement of PCBs.
The sewer construction project in Minden was originally halted in December citing mutual concerns of risk and exposure to PCBs by contractors and citizens alike. Construction recently began again, however, after head contractor Thrasher Engineering published a report stating there was virtually no risk to citizens or its workers of PCB exposure.
Lastly, an article last Wednesday from the Detroit Metro Times covered opposition arguments to expanding waste containment facilities in Wayne County, MI. Idaho Ecology has released plans to “ramp up waste dumping, storage and processing at three different sites across the county” in partnership with Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). One course of action would see MDEQ acquiring a license to increase storage capacity at a site on Detroit’s east side, “from 64,000 gallons to 666,000 gallons” of space. The license would allow MDEQ to store PCBs below concentrations of 50 ppm as well as dioxins at the site.
Wayne County residents have expressed opposition to notion, citing the storage facility is less than a mile from local churches, a quarter mile from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, and a half mile from Hamramck – Michigan’s most densely populated city.
The concerns of citizens in these communities are not unwarranted. Last week’s blurb covered similar opposition from locals in Berkshire County, MA to local dumping and storage of PCB-contaminated waste within local limits. PCBs have a tendency to bioaccumulate, and their hydrophobic nature means that contact with water bodies or in soil makes it much easier for them to leech from storage into surrounding soil. Such occurrences are uncommon when dumping and storage methods strictly follow regulations, however the chance of contamination leaks is a real and present threat to communities within proximity to hazardous waste storage units.
As ecoSPEARS marches forward on its path to becoming stakeholders’ cradle-to-grave solution for PCB extraction and destruction, the most important aspect of our organization doesn’t come from our team: it comes from you and those like you in communities around the world who demand a definitive answer to the PCB problem.
Within the next few months our team will be expanding our social outreach both virtually and in-person while partnering with several different applications to develop methods on how best to reach out to, educate, and engage communities in the problem PCBs and other toxins pose and how we can help these people revitalize the health of their communities.
To kickstart these efforts we ask that our readers share this post, others like it, and information about our organization to leaders and environmental champions in your community. If there is any material (visual media, literature, etc.) you and/or your community possesses on problems with toxic contamination, feel free to forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org so that our team can learn more about how we can best help and begin to establish a dialogue with your community.
As always, a problem well-defined is half-solved.
For more information about how you can help your community reclaim its polluted waterways, email email@example.com
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