Dear Green Party Voters and Comrades,
Please find below an opinion piece that I have submitted to the Watertown Daily Times, North Country This Week and Indian Time. St. Lawrence County is poised to become a leading entity in addressing the matter of POPs contamination of the Earth. If you are interested in taking action to build public interest in this issue, I would love to strategize with you. On Friday, August 19th, I conducted a public educational outreach on the embankment overlooking the GM Powertrain Super Fund Site. During the course of an hour and a half, many drivers on State Route 37 read my message, “POPs Cause Cancer”. The honking horns and fists raised in the air created an exciting good vibe.
joyous in Nature,
Donald L. Hassig
The month of August has given us a beautiful series of change driving events. On August 11th, 2011, Larry Thompson, a primal Mohawk resident of Akwesasne took action to focus public attention on the continuing presence of PCBs on the GM Powertrain Super Fund Site located adjacent to and West of the Mohawk reservation. PCBs and other industrial wastes disposed of in an illegal industrial landfill during the 1960s contaminate an approximately 12 acre portion of the site. US EPA decided that capping was a satisfactory remedial action for this toxic waste dump. The cap consists of a layer of synthetic material and approximately 18 inches of mineral material.
The primal Mohawk of Akwesasne are opposed to the decision to leave the wastes of the industrial landfill on the site. It is their position that the land is Mohawk land and the hazardous waste must be removed. Larry Thompson drove a backhoe onto the site and began excavating the industrial landfill. He dumped some of the hazardous waste into a railroad boxcar thus demonstrating his determination to bring about the removal of all of the hazardous material. Mr. Thompson was arrested and charged with several counts including two felonies. A grand jury is being convened to try him in St. Lawrence County Court.
The Thompson action has created a situation in which the St. Lawrence County Legislature is now expressing recognition of its responsibility for protecting the health of people who are receiving exposure to PCBs emanating from that site. As a preliminary step in providing this protection, the County Legislature has requested that EPA provide documentation of the process whereby the decision was made to cap the landfill.
The GM Powertrain Super Fund Site PCB exposure controversy that has now begun to boil presents a wonderful opportunity for the people of St. Lawrence County and the Mohawk reservation to become involved in persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure minimization. Focus on GM PCBs will facilitate the growth of public awareness concerning total POPs exposure, which includes: (1) respiratory exposure to PCBs that evaporate from contaminated sites, (2) oral exposure to POPs resultant from drinking St. Lawrence River water and (3) oral exposure that takes place via consumption of animal fats, all of which are contaminated with a large number of POPs. Those who understand total POPs exposure are empowered to minimize their exposure by restricting consumption of all animal fats and choosing to drink bottled water. Removal of the hazardous wastes that contaminate the GM Powertrain Super Fund Site is the only way to minimize respiratory POPs exposure.
The timing of Mr. Thompson’s action is perfect. Cancer Action NY had just completed a several year project of educating town and county policy makers on the subject of POPs exposure cancer risk. Cancer Action NY is committed to helping the primal Mohawk people succeed in forcing the removal of all hazardous wastes disposed of on the GM site. We have initiated a dialogue with several county legislators regarding forcing the US EPA to come to St. Lawrence County for the purpose of participating in an open public meeting that would make possible an on the record dialogue on the scientific knowledge that is relevant to making a decision about the disease risk imposed by the PCB contaminated site. If EPA can be forced to participate in such a meeting, we will finally corner the federal government on the matter of failed government regulation of polluters, which has led to the contamination of the food supply with health damaging levels of POPs. Additionally, we will hold EPA accountable for failure to warn the public of the POPs exposure cancer hazard constituted by contamination of all animal fats. Once these matters have become well known among regional residents, a groundswell of support for removal of the GM hazardous waste will insure that the site is fully cleaned up.
– Donald L. Hassig, Director Cancer Action NY Cancer Action News Network P O Box 340 Colton, NY USA 13625 315.262.2456 http://www.canceractionny.org