October 2, 2012
By Mickey Friedman
A loyal reader admonished me recently: “You haven’t written about the River in a while!”
Sometimes thinking about the thirty year fight for a PCB cleanup makes me want to go to sleep for a very long time.
The story of GE and PCBs is a story about how hard it’s been to wrench the truth from those who’ve always known the true costs of PCBs. The billions made versus the uncounted costs to human and environmental health: the years the workers have lost; the healthcare costs: and the toll its taken on our waterfowl, the fish.
We worked hard to find where they dumped the PCB waste. A children’s park here; an elementary school there. Landfill by landfill, backyard by backyard. The State argued with us. The Mayor attacked us. But workers, enviromentalists, and neighbors made the GE Housatonic River site a national battleground for a comprehensive cleanup.
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March 10, 2011
By Mickey Friedman
Having grown up on city streets, I wouldn’t have known a vernal pool if I had fallen into one.
Today I’m writing about vernal pools because they are central to the battle about how best to clean toxic PCBs from the Housatonic River.
The Vernal Pool
Vernal pools are “ephemeral fresh-water wetlands which do not hold water permanently and are free of breeding populations of fish.” (MA Fisheries and Wildlife). Fresh water pools formed by rain and snow during the autumn and winter, but dry at other times of the year. Because there are no predator fish, many important species are born in vernal pools. These species cannot live without these critically important vernal pools. (2011 Phase 4C Floodplain Property Vernal Pool Monitoring Summary, p.1: (http://www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/floodplain/reports/phase4/501650.pdf)
We’re talking about invertebrates like fairy shrimp (don’t tell Rick Santorum), daphnia, fingernail clams, water striders, and caddishflies. These inveterbrates don’t have backbones and make up 97% of all animal species. Then there are amphibians like green frogs, wood frogs, and salamanders. These “indicator species” are easy to collect and tell us what’s in the water and how it is effecting animal life.
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By David Scribner
October 23, 2011
A major section of the Rest of the River - from the confluence to Woods Pond.
LENOX – Even as the state Department of Environmental Protection presses ahead with its campaign for a minimal cleanup of (PCBs) from the Housatonic River floodplain, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which will have the final say on the cleanup approach and scope, is denying claims that it is under pressure from the White House to adopt the state’s less invasive criteria.
“This is simply not true,” declared EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding. He said that the agency was not under political pressure to “choose a Housatonic River cleanup plan that won’t protect the health of people or the environment in Berkshire County.”
In a prepared statement, he continued: “I have stated repeatedly that the EPA’s guiding principal as we identify a cleanup plan for the Housatonic is that we will rely on the best scientific evidence to determine what measures need to be taken to ensure that we are protecting peoples’ health and restoring the Housatonic to good ecological health. I remain committed to an open, inclusive and transparent process that is allowing the communities of the Berkshires to weigh in with their concerns and priorities for the Housatonic River.” READ MORE >>