Sunday, April 16, 2006

Politically Correct

When I started this blog site in August of 2004, I told the reader this was not going to be a “politically correct” blog site. Just the facts. When I have blogged and was “proven” wrong, I issued corrections. Where I have blogged what was in my mind at the time, and thought better of later, I apologized to those offended. When I issued a blog I thought would be better off removed, I removed it. I have done that twice out of 240ish blogs. It is my blog site.

“Anyone who writes on a sensitive topic is bound to face criticism. This is unfortunate, because we need to be able to discuss important issues in a calm and rational manner. The path forward is that after the initial furor dies down, serious people can look at it, and agree to disagree.” (Stephen Walt, Academic Dean, John R. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)

The PDC Application was not discussed in a calm and rational manner. The radical environmentalists poisoned the air from the beginning. Note that the description “toxic, cancer, air pollution and mercury” were consistently used by the RE’s to panic the public. When it was proven by expert testimony that most waste materials remain toxic ONLY if it is improperly treated and handled, the RE’s changed their signs to “hazardous waste”. They backed off mercury contamination from PDC when mercury was proven not to be accepted at PDC.

Now the Sierra Club claims that 6 power plants along the Illinois River “emit 1500 pounds of mercury annually”. The Sierra Club conducted testing on the hair of Peoria adults and children to determine the level of mercury contamination but couldn’t find any test of people that exceeded health mercury limits. It is also stated by other environmentalists that the mercury in the air and water could be from global emissions primarily from Asia.

I stand by my vote and have the facts to back it up. The reasons some voted “no” is purely speculative on my part. However, I believe it is not fair to sit as judge and jury and not be present to hear the facts. The summation of all testimony was not presented to the full board until April 13, one full week after the vote to deny. Many board members claim they do not use the computer making it questionable if they read the testimony on the counties web site, many didn’t attend the siting hearings, one member of the siting committee attended only half the meetings and FOUR of the SEVEN members of the siting committee, who heard all the testimony voted “yes” to accept the finding of staff who did sit thru all the siting meeting along with expert input from Patrick Environmental Engineering.

The siting committee, made up of seven board members, did not get an opportunity to present our findings to full board. Why did at least six of us sit thru 6 days of testimony and cross-examination if not allowed to present our findings to the full board most of who did NOT sit thru the siting process? That the hazardous waste was solid and concretized by Portland cement before it was put in the landfill was known to any board member who would have asked PDC or even visited the site. That the hazardous waste was quite dry after 8-10 years of containment and would stay in that for millenniums was the opinion of those qualified to make an opinion. The poisonous nature of the diatribe against the Coulter family who have successfully maintained and protected the community for the past 27 years at this site makes me sad. Did I make the best decision for the health benefits of the community now and in the future? The answer is yes and I will vote yes again on May 3..

Was the testimony of the doctors credible? No, read the testimony. Are the toxic wastes brought to the landfill, treated and buried to a form of hazardous waste? Yes, of course, that’s why it is approved and licensed by the State of Illinois as a Hazardous Waste Landfill. Is there a proven need for this waste to be buried or dumped somewhere? Should this waste be buried rather than exposed? Of course. Should we recycle more? Of course and many do recycle and more will in the future. Is it possible some of this “caked waste” will be recycled some day? That is a far more plausible possibility given by expert testimony. Will any haz waste ever get in any water supply in greater quantities than the pesticides and toxins now put on the land, throw into ravines or flushed down our stools into our water systems? Yes, that water does wind up in the Illinois River which is a major source of the water we drink. Is this treated water polluted when you drink it? Can you prove it? If it’s still polluted when we drink it, why are still alive?

Are I and other “yes” voters alone? No, most of the community’s knowledgeable leaders silently and many openly support our “yes” vote. The uninformed leaders (of which I have often said we have a fair number in this community), rise in anger to oppose what is the best of all options considering the 27 years of successful operation of a safe disposal. Were opinions and votes based on false comparisons to Love Canal or failure to educate themselves, NIMBY or a basket of other reasons?

We thank the letter received today from the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce supporting our “yes” vote and asking us to continue to get the facts out.

And, yes Molly, I did issue an apology of which you have a copy, an apology for “speculating”. And yes, it is my blog site and I can take it down anytime I feel it is everybody’s best interests.

There is an old saying expressed to me on more than one occasion; “If the shoe fits, wear it”. The phrase may have different interpretations, I’m just repeating it as I heard it said to me.

I will continue to put the facts on this site as long as I have the energy, the ability and interest to do so.

Happy Easter to all.

3 comments:

B. Ridley Critz, III said...

"The poisonous nature of the diatribe against the Coulter family who have successfully maintained and protected the community for the past 27 years at this site makes me sad."

Merle, I have NEVER cast any aspersions against the Coulter family. I happen to think, also, they have done their best with bad stuff. Yet, I am with the board's majority.

And, I am FAR from a NIMBY. If I make the waste, it is my problem to dispose of it.

On the other hand, I don not see why Peoria County must bail out the NIMBYs in other counties and even in other states. Let each establish its own, smaller, hazardous waste site and hire the Coulters or anyone they desire to manage it. Surely the Coulters could have branch operations!

I repeat, against the chance, albeit small, of a leak, hundreds of small sites would be easier to remediate in a timely manner than one or two large ones. Not all will go sour at the same time.

Again, Merle, it REALLY IS THE LACK OF NEED that bothers me -- and presumably many board members, since THAT was the basis of at least one of their votes. Need defined by being necessary to serve the area governed by the board, as the STATUTE appears to require.

Like the wording of the statute or not, you, as a board member, are bound by it, for it is the law.

I repeat my request for you to find evidence presented to the board related to the NEED.

Cheryl Shelabarger said...

Merle,

I used to have a condo at Lexington Ridge Condominiums. There was a lot of talk about the landfill since we were basically "just up the hill". As far as I am concerned, I just feel a little hinky about the whole thing. Is there a need for the expansion? From the conflicting information that I've read, I really don't know who to believe anymore.

I guess the bottom line is this: Would you be willing to live close to this site or would you be willing to let those you love live there?

Merle Widmer said...

Cheryl,

The answer to both is yes if I or they wanted to live there. Much safer than some other parts of the city.