Good Person to Live Downstream From

Stream Bed

Recently I heard one man say to another; “you are a good person to live down-stream from”.  I had never heard that one before, though I’ve known a few farms that you did not want to be down-wind of. Then there’s the oft heard “sh*t flows down hill”, and there lies (or flows) the point.

GM, GE, Gee Whiz
I grew up near the Hudson River at a time when folks were becoming aware that there wasn’t enough water there to dilute the sh*t we were pumping into it, and though things have improved, we are still trying to clean up the mess. In some cases the clean-up causes concerns of further contamination downstream as the dredging dislodges contaminated sludge. (1)

General Motors (GM) closed its riverfront plant in Sleepy Hollow in 1996 and the site stood idle until 2000 when it was dismantled. GM committed to cleaning up the contaminants left on the site- hazardous solvents such as methane gas, chromium and, lead and high levels of chromium, trichloroethylene, polycyclic hydrocarbons and methane. The contamination derives, not just from GM’s manufacturing of cars since 1915, but also from contaminated fill from other river sites that was used to create the GM site by the filling in of a bay. Under the current proposal, over 2,000 Sleepy Hollow residents would live on this site. (2)

(This has become a curious fix to polluted sites. ‘Clean’ them up and then build high priced housing on top of them. I can only assume because then there will be wide spread opposition to further testing/clean up at the site because it would put people out of their high priced homes) (and they give them pretty names like ‘Riverview’ instead of accurate names like ‘Toluene Heights’)

Between 1947 and 1977, General Electric (GE) dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. The source of the PCB discharges was two GE capacitor manufacturing plants located in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls, New York, about 50 miles north of Albany. GE’s PCBs are now found in sediment, water and wildlife throughout the Hudson River ecosystem as far south as the New York Harbor. They are also found in people. (3)

(PCB’s were stored in shale caverns where they were supposedly safely contained, but the shale caverns leaked. Sound akin to any new processes industry claims is safe?)

A quick perusal of the articles linked at the bottom of the page should wake you up to just how vast the problems are. And – where does this stuff go after the clean up? It’s not like someone waves a magic wand and they disappear. They are trucked off to another disposal site where hopefully they will remain sequestered – forever.

Are you a good down-hill, down-wind, down-stairs neighbor? What are the effects of your every day life on the community? Are you thoughtful about what you pour down your drains, how much water yo use, how loud you live? Corporations make big messes, with big clean up costs and challenges, but there are millions of us. Our every day choices add up too. The difference is that because they are – our – small everyday choices, – we – can change them. We don’t have to hire lawyers, write environmental impact statements and get permits to clean them up. WE can change – a little bit – then a little bit more – and then more still – because we’d like our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren to have a cleaner world to live in. My children knew their great-grandparents, folks who lived much of their lives close to the ground. I hope to live to see my great grandchildren, and I hope their lives will be a return to an earth friendly life.

 (1) GE takes another look at PCB fix: http://tinyurl.com/ahlejmx

(2) GM site redevelopment – Sleepy Hollow: http://tinyurl.com/bq5w2jg

(3) Hudson River PCB’s: http://tinyurl.com/cafr7qe
other links of interest:
Indian Point: http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/
Contaminants found in farmed salmon: http://tinyurl.com/aor9yvd