By Mickey Friedman
October 21, 2011
The Fish are the fish that swim the Housatonic River; the Ducks are the ducks that travel the flyway, stopping to live for a bit in the Housatonic. And the Clucks, well read on, and make your own decision.
The men and women of the Commonwealth whose jobs are to protect our environment came to town the other day to explain their plan for the Housatonic River. The fish and ducks couldn’t make the meeting. But the Lenox Town Hall was packed with people, many vigorously endorsing a more comprehensive cleanup, some enthusiastically supporting the state’s proposal for a cleanup of Woods Pond, but a plan that leaves most of the river and floodplain the way it is.
Some of the toxic PCBs the State thinks we should leave in the floodplain because we shouldn't destroy the river to save it. Because saving it is worse than not saving it. Because actually saving it is something only the EPA wants to do.
“Cluck,” by the way, as in “dumb cluck,” is a word often used on the street to describe someone who is more stupid or foolish than detestable.
Kenneth Kimmel, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Mary Griffin, the Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) brought some DFG staff scientists to help us understand their plan.
That the DEP and DFG presentation impressed some people is a testament to the fact that it is a royal pain in the ass to read all the thick and very boring scientific reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have assembled the last twenty years. Not even the crack commentators at the Berkshire Eagle have the time to tackle those reports. Thankfully, the Commonwealth decided to offer some easy-to-digest, non-scientific non-facts.
Governor Patrick’s team made several points. One: you can’t really effectively clean the areas where most of the PCBs are because those are environmentally sensitive areas – and that’s where all the fragile, endangered species hang out. That’s the section of the Housatonic River which bends and curves – the fancy scientific term is “meanders.” It’s where 75% of the PCBs are: in the meandering river and on the riverbanks and in the adjacent floodplain. Too complicated. We can’t clean it without destroying it. The same thing GE says.
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