EPA Continues to Ignore Disaster




EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency Brought to the FrontPage.

Rather than being happy for those in New Jersey whose soil surrounding their property,  finally to be cleaned, by the EPA, because the ground is filled with poisons, I was rather upset to find this story on the cover of the newspaper USA Today – September 12, 2012.

You may be wondering why someone would be upset when the EPA is doing their job, but I feel they are not – and it is unfortunate for people who come from large cities where factories moved out, leaving the soil contaminated.  Why am I upset – because I still know of friends who work at factories, in office buildings in the town where I came from, with land drenched in poison.

The previous owner, with enough income to clean up their mess, refuses, as they continue to employ a small number of people, compared to the thousands and thousands who walked each day, took a bus, or trolley to work during its’ heyday.

The EPA told of the property in question and neighborhoods surrounding the city with small pieces of soil landing in their backyards and killed many members of families from the city.  In today’s paper, USA Today, named these factories, “Ghost Factories” but as noted people work, live, and children will always play in the dirt.  It doesn’t seem to me the EPA has much to say about the old industrial cities.

A woman from N.J., I quote, “I had no idea my grandchild was playing in contaminated soil.”  According to USA Today.  As you can tell, I am not a happy camper.  N.J.  – as written in USA Today, noted 12 houses were identified and will be cleaned.  12 houses, imagine making the front page of the newspaper because this Government Agency is proud, to clean up 12 lots in a State like N.J. where factories were by the dozen on many streets, streets named in the article.  The article mentioned the EPA is frustrated by questions and cleaning 12 areas where homes sit.  The EPA explained the process,  employees would remove two feet of soil and will be wearing protective clothing.

The article mentions buildings, condos built in the ’90s, (when they knew about the soil) now occupied where factories moved on leaving the ground contaminated.  Our most of our cities where industry created the city, now losing support along with its’ citizens.

The article specifically notes Lead Factories.  When you read the article you will notice the names of many cities in N.J. with city blocks with row houses sitting on top of poison.  The EPA noted, there was nothing that they could do.

There was a time when we knew nothing about waste, how it killed so many individuals in neighborhoods, where today more people are dying young, developing neurological disorders, and illnesses doctors can’t even name.  As I have mentioned in previous articles, in the neighborhood where I grew up and lived until I was off to school, at least ten people, in a four-block area, developed MS, and more have died from cancer, and the medical profession has pinpointed areas like this, clusters. The deaths continue, and many illnesses will not end until something is done.

The department heads of many cities have contacted the EPA, and they have not forced those companies still in existence today, to clean up the soil.  They have not returned to areas reported as contaminated since the 1980s.  Complaints have been filed and no one has done anything to correct the situation.

It was mentioned that regulators in 14 States, 13 including N.J. are investigating areas proven to be dangerous – hello?  How many letters does one need to receive before they take you seriously?  How many deaths does it take before the EPA gets on the backs of those still building, making money, and causing deaths from left “overs.”  There should be a law since these companies know what they left behind, that immediate clean up to proceed with any move and charges be made against the working companies if the rules are not followed. The EPA should be behind these rules and helping the people who still live in these cities.

Yes, there was a time when these same neighborhoods had every house filled, working families, and they believed in healthy children.  The city boomed with stores, eateries, schools were built and families grew.  Jobs added to the workforce in other areas until one day the main attraction, known at first as the “Edison Works” and then the “General Electric Company” in Schenectady, N.Y. moved eighty percent of their workforce to the Carolinas.  The reason why – will surprise you.

This bustling city is now and has been fighting with the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Electric Company to clean up the soil.  Recently a huge corporation needed clean space for a large company – on acres of land.  The news reported the possible addition to the Capital District and a plus for the city.  Instead, once the reports were returned to the future industry they refused to move into the city due to the land drenched with toxic chemicals.

This new company would have brought the city back to life, new jobs, opportunities, and other industries would follow.  No longer was this city like many others – the place to live – because of large companies and old factories damaging the ground, leaving contaminated soil to blow into your backyard

The article mentioned the name of the head of the EPA in N.J. and within the article, he said, “he has accomplished allot.”  In my mind, he only touched the surface in the State of N.J.  Can you imagine he stated, “He was frustrated by the questions that some neighborhoods were tested, and others were not.”  The EPA mentioned 31 sites focused on where a former factory existed.  What about the thirty years of notices going to the federal government about the City of Schenectady, and those who still live and work on soil rich with dangerous chemicals?  When we get to Lang Street, within the City of Schenectady, you will hear even more – devastating news.

Schenectady during its’ boom time was a factory known as the Locomotive Company where their property lined the Mohawk River taking up many acres of land.  Their product, Engines for locomotives, and I even recall the tracks and one engine after another on the grounds near the river.  During World War II, I was told the Locomotive Company began making tanks for the war, as they would be rolled out of the city and transported to the Air Force Base where they would be flown into combat areas.

Being brought up in Schenectady I knew it was in the top ten places to live in our country until one large corporation destroyed the city.  It was as if the GE was the Giant and no one could step on its’ toes.  Small factories moved in, one located a block from our home had contaminated soil from a factory dealing with metals.  The city recently built a garage over the area, yet I don’t believe one piece of land surrounding the area and neighborhood was ever tested for poisons in their soil.  This is wrong – could it be as simple as the EPA puts it, “There is nothing that we can do.”    From one factory to the next, industrial cities kept spreading poison and once known, it would become the EPA along with the City to clean up the property, but General Electric was different.

Not far from the old Locomotive Company is Lang Street, and a railway overpass where the building still stands, near the new corporate headquarters for Price Chopper, where once the Big N stood and several other commercial properties.  The chemicals from the land on Lang Street were from a secret government detail moved on to a larger area on the South Side of the City.  It was once known on Lang Street as the Atomic Power Laboratory (owned by the General Electric Company) and is now called the “Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.”

The Knolls is still a full working facility with guards to enter the area, and men who work the landscape must wear protective clothing.  This would only mean they are still using chemicals in the Lab contaminating the grounds and the river where the plant is located.  Has anyone ever investigated why the Knolls is protected with guards?

Lang Street, where they first opened the Atomic Power Lab in a small wooden framed factory, next to the railroad bridge has been tested and is contaminated, and the EPA has known about this since the EPA existed.  Has anyone come to help the people in the area?  Has the Knolls, owned by the General Electric Company, offered to clean even this smaller area of land?  No.  As acres and acres of bad soil remains at the bottom of Erie Blvd. with positive tests of harmful chemicals, the city sleeps.

The Knolls Atomic Power Lab was told by the city government to clean up the grounds and the surrounding area, and they refused.  Today the large facility known as the Knolls has hundreds of employees, and the GE continues to make money on many of the Health Advances, such as the MRI, etc. which began when they moved out of the City – and built additional companies in many areas of the country.  The workers at the Knolls are gifted and developed many advances in health care, yet the company doesn’t seem to worry about those who live near and around their facilities or land.

The EPA should insist on both properties in the city be cleaned and as I mentioned, fine them by the month for unfinished business.

I know of many friends, and even my own family who has passed on early in life due to cancer and other illnesses but the Government has never listened to the people, and never forces the big business to clean up their act.

Schenectady lost a new beginning due to contaminated soil, making the news like many stories, once, and nothing was said about the grounds, about the people still working on the grounds, a need to clean up the soil – when questioned the company simply said no.

General Electric, one of the largest companies with factories, chemicals, and so forth, left behind a mess – a payback for the thousands and thousands who lived and worked in the city.  It wasn’t the first time they played with the residents when they did not allow immigrants to be employed at the GE, even though Edison and all the other big-time scientists living in the city, were immigrants.  The law was lifted after the depression, allowing first only the immigrants who came to this country with papers, called for by the GE to work and met at Ellis Island.

Furthermore, without going into the background of the company, they do have the funds to clean up what they left behind.  They are the sole owners of the company and do not have to pay the city a penny, and I mean a penny for taxes on that land, they have nothing to worry about;  would they ever worry about the illness and deaths caused by their factories.

A city acquired the slogan, “Schenectady, the city that lights the world.” The city is now dark.  Children who played in their yards during the 1900s had no idea they were infecting their bodies.  A young child tends to put things in their mouth – I recall growing up with the saying, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you died.”  Well, that was before the eighties when the news was released that GE left behind a mess, and thousands of people jobless.  The only reason GE won’t touch this site is that it costs them nothing to stay there.  Rules can be changed, and perhaps since it is still a small working facility they have certain rights, but rights are also granted to those who work there.

I can’t help but say again, this company who invented the MRI – and other life-saving equipment costing each medical facility, millions of dollars, only to come out with a newer and better MRI recently, costing so much that insurance companies will not cover the full amount for a scan.  Perfection, to find imperfections, illnesses from the land they left with chemicals that kill.

  1. Avatar of Robert Politz
    Robert Politz says

    Interesting article Nancy but the people don’t care or do anything beyond grumbling and complaining about “Generous Electric” over a few beers at the Erie Barge or Polito’s Pizza. To “Main Street”, it’s just conversation. To “Wall Street”, it’s money, profits to be garnered by the insiders. And, to the politicians, the EPA has become (at least for all intensive appearances by their actions) a way of returning pre-election favors by preventing and/or eliminating the competition of their supporters. The “Good ol’ Boys” network lives on and the common man pays for their mansions.

    The locomotives you mentioned, built by ALCO, were once exported to South America and Canada as well as used by companies in the USA but in later years, that manufacturing was moved to Mexico. GE moved the Turbine division to Bangor Maine at the old Dow Air Force Base land where dozens of Shalmont High School and Union College graduates settled.

    It’s all about the political control of “the cost of doing business” and the “bottom line”. New Jersey has some of the most strict local EPA rules on the books but they are only enforced against those who do not pay off the right people.

    The serious problems in this country are being addressed by those in control only to the extent that any position or action gains political power, stature and/or wealth and furthers their agenda. When humans are involved, history always repeats itself and today is no exception.

    Welcome to the years 325 BC. 33 AD, the 3rd, 7th, 13th, 17th centuries and 1912, 1916, 1929, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1973, 1983, 1991, 2001, 2012.

    So, do you go to West Milton often or mostly hang out at Skidmore? Hope you have a fabulous weekend filled with smiles and laughter. {;p)

    1. Avatar of Nancy Duci Denofio
      Nancy Duci Denofio says

      I guess you know the area – and my home town as a child, near the Plant. No, I on Saratoga Lake, but behind us is Global Foundaries. Did you know the president visited this area four times, and while building this monster, but bringing in jobs, from all over the world, they had the entire area restricted until the first floor was on. I felt like I was going through the entrance to the White House.

      Thanks for your thoughts, and you are right, it’s a matter of knowing, who.

      Sincerely, Nancy

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