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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 15, 2001 - Issue 51


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Enviro Rantings From an All Natural Soapbox


Hudson River ValleyI scour the papers each and every day searching for environmental injustices of the earth. It doesn’t usually take me long. In fact, the hardest job I have is decided who is the most evil of the week. It would much simpler if I had a sidekick to send up some kind of signal. The Recycle-Signal. “ Quick…to the environ-mobile!!! Must…fight…toxic waste! Come Leafboy let us be off to conquer the evil Dr. PCB!” It would be easy because my uniform would be earth tones and camouflage. The bad guys would never see me coming. I’d love to see the look of the US Congress-person’s faces when I showed up in that get-up.

Every once in awhile, a great while, I come across a case of the good guys winning. It seems to me too often that the EPA or some other government watchdog gets to bark really, really loudly, but they never get to sink their teeth into the bad guys. Well, not this time.

General Electric, you know, the company that made your refrigerator and your light bulbs and your stove and…you get the idea, was ordered yesterday to clean up their mess. What does that mean? Well, apparently before pollutants were banned in 1977, good ol’ GE, who “brings good things to light”, dumped 1.3 Million pounds of PCB’s into the Hudson River. 1.3 Million pounds people! That is 650 Tons or enough to fill 40 football fields 30 feet deep.

Hudson River Dam and PlantRemember, I did say it takes awhile to get the bad guy. This only took 24 years. Now, how much damage do you think was done in that 24 years that deadly, toxic chemicals sat on the bottom of the Hudson River? This project is estimated to cost GE $500 Million to complete. Seems a small price to pay for all the killing they’ve done as a result. In most countries, the CEO would just get decapitated. Something to think about…

GE is vehemently opposing the operation. Go figure. Their argument is that they believe once they begin dredging the 2.65 Million Cubic Yards of sediment, it will stir up the PCB’s and cause them to drift downstream. To that I say, well, you’ll just have to dredge downstream then. GE states that the river has been slowly cleansing itself

Here’s the best part, and yes, I am being sarcastic as usual, in 1984, the EPA put a 197-mile stretch of the Hudson on the federal Superfund Cleanup list. It was never cleaned up. Instead, the EPA thought they would “monitor” the situation. Can someone please tell me why we’ve paid taxes all these years to fund the Superfund and it took 17 years of monitoring before the EPA decided to go after GE?

I believe firmly, that if it were not for the Native American Community, the EPA would still be sitting on their hands and GE would still be wearing Brooks Brothers ties to barbecues. Let me explain a little. There are quite a few companies, not just GE, that sit along three rivers in that area. General Motors and Alcoa are a few of the others, so I shouldn’t just pick on GE, however, GM and Alcoa have already begun cleaning up their mess. But I digress…along those same rivers, live a part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, most commonly referred to as the Iroquois Nation. They are the Mohawk peoples. Even more specifically, the Akwesasne. They have lived among these rivers for close to 8000 years and have suffered the consequences, of the evils the corporate entities have created, more than any others.

Warning SignIn the early 70’s, cattle began showing signs of the PCB damage with low milk production, birth defects and brittle bones and teeth. In the 80’s, a warning was issued to limit fish consumption, keep children away from the rivers and childbearing women were to severely limit any contact with the water for fear of birth defects or worse. The people feared gardens for risk of contamination and were concerned about airborne contaminants. There was even Mercury discharged at one point by a Canadian company.

After all these years, the EPA and NYDEC decided to step in and help. Here is the major problem with that. There are several companies at fault here. GE is one of many and is the only one I can see being nailed for it right now. There are also two other rivers that are involved and little is being done. It took 24 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is too long for people to be poisoned, their property destroyed and their children dying. Again, in many countries; killing is punishable immediately by decapitation. Perhaps it’s time for some cranial removal to get the point across. Enough is enough. The EPA is finally doing something, but they need to do it much, much faster. These big companies have been hiding behind lawsuits and injunctions for way too long. Many believe that the justice system is screwy, but when it protects those who are obviously guilty, there is something really, really wrong.

Wake up GE and your ilk. The time has come, now that the EPA has administration that cares, for you to pay for what you’ve done. The people will have their day. Wake up EPA and DEC and whomever else it takes to make sure justice is swift and complete. We can do it to the Al-Quieda, who killed roughly 5,000 recently, but we can’t do it to companies in our own country who have killed thousands and destroyed personal property for a quarter of a century? Something is terribly wrong with this picture. Perhaps a military tribunal is in order…

Come Leafboy, our work is finished here.

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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