This e-mail was sent to us by Julianne Rizzo....
Sue Hughes, former Roy-Hart Board Of Education VP, delivered a brief speech in Niagara Falls tonight as Lois Gibbs and her Center for Health, Environment and Justice presented the "Four Love Canals of Today" in our region. Middleport's FMC pesticides and landfill are listed along with the rolling of molten uranium at Bethlehem Steel for the Manhattan Project...CWM Landfill in Porter, and West Valley. Below is text from the big Love Canal 30th Anniversary Observance tonight in Niagara Falls, attended by activists along with Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, State Senator Antoine Thompson, and Assembly members Francine Delmonte and Crystal Peoples:
Sue Hughes' Remarks:
Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the unprecedented decision by the NYS Department of Health, to declare a state of emergency at Love Canal. Those of you who lived through this nightmare, had no way of knowing, you would soon become the poster children for thousands of communities across the county. You showed us that together we can move mountains.
The small community of Middleport NY gives the impression of a picture perfect town. Visitors, take a step back in time to a simpler life in this quaint canal side Village. Last year, Business Week Magazine, chose this community from a pool of applicants as the 11th best place in the country to raise kids. The criteria used for this was a combination of schools, cost of living, recreational activities and crime rateâ€¦ But what Business Week didn't know was, there's an elephant in the center of town. That elephant is FMC, one of the largest chemical companies in the world. No where on the application does it ask if you have a class II hazardous waste facility in the center of town. It also doesn't ask, if the community has been in a constant state of environmental investigation and remediation, for the last 25 years with no completion date in sight.
FMC purchased its Middleport facility from the former Niagara Sprayer in 1943. They expanded it to become a major production and research facility of pesticides and various chemical products for residential, commercial and military use.
In 1946, they conveyed most of a 20-acre site, previously used for pesticide manufacturing and testing, to the Royalton Hartland Central School District for $1. This parcel of land is just 100 feet from the current FMC plant site. The deed that conveyed the property states that FMC has the right to cause dust, fumes and by-products resulting from present or future operations to drift over and become deposited on the premises in perpetuity. This property is still occupied by the school district and houses grades 5 - 12 from the surrounding 78 square miles.
Although the exact location is still unknown, Agents Orange and Purple were formulated and tested for the Department of Defense, on several acres of land near the plant. The facility was responsible for several massive wildlife kills in the 60's and 70's due to its disposal practices. In 1975 it was responsible for one of the largest bird kills on record, resulting thousands of birds literally falling from the sky, after drinking from one of the company's wastewater ponds. In 1984 just weeks before the Bhopal India disaster that killed thousands, a spill of the same chemical caused the evacuation of the adjacent school. Dozens of students and teachers were treated by rescue workers and local hospitals. The companies list of accidents is extensive and continual. As recently as 2005 a demolition project rained contaminated dust on students outside for gym class.
In 2006, the school District underwent a vapor intrusion assessment. CHE's Stephen Lester reviewed the results and shared his impressions with me. I'd like to share with you his thoughts, about how the regulatory agencies used an outdated and unrealistic approach to interpret these tests, that no weight was given to the compounded affect of the multiple VOC's present, and that a single testing could not possibly give an accurate snapshot of what is actually occurring with the contaminated ground water under the schoolyard. Unfortunately, I can't. Within hours of receiving Stephens key points of concern, the school board was strongly encouraged to accept the agencies findings without question. If we continued to rock the boat, we could find ourselves in enough regulatory red tape that the financial implications could bankrupt the district. I was directed to stop all outside communications regarding the issue or risk being removed from the school board.
The powers that be in New York State had spoken, this school was safe!
In March of this year, FMC applied for authorization to build an above ground Corrective Action Management Unit or CAMU, on their site. This landfill will hold soil and debris from ongoing interim remedial work. This type of patchwork clean up will continue for properties, deemed too contaminated to wait for a final remedial plan, as directed by the 1991 RCRA order of consent. I'm normally a huge fan of polluters taking back their own waste, but in this case, the waste would be stored 100 feet from the school athletic fields. These same athletic fields were remediated less than 10 years ago due to extensive arsenic contamination. Records indicate the contamination was due to air deposition and surface water runoff, and yet the schoolyard continues to be located down hill and down wind of the proposed landfill. Our main focus in the next few months will be to stop this CAMU from being constructed. How can anyone justify land filling contaminated debris, considered to be a public health threat, this close to a schoolyard? At what point does the State step up and say no, we won't allow this risk with our children? Haven't we learned that landfills and schools don't mix?
New York State needs to take a stand for these children. Send a clear message that their health and safety is the top priority?
Communities across the country are prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of schools. Drug possession within 1000 feet of a school is a felony. Bringing a weapon of any kind onto school grounds is a felony. We fingerprint and run criminal background checks on all school employees. We require parental notification of pesticide applications. And yet, if you have a federally regulated facility, you can build a landfill with a politically correct name, to hold material too hazardous to leave in place, 100 feet from a schoolyard!