Tire Burning Plant: Corrupt St Helens City Officials Turn Deaf Ear to Citizen Concerns
Speculative industrialists are trying to foist a dirty, toxic tire burning plant upon the community of St Helens, just North of Portland. Despite an underhanded effort to sneak this in under the radar of public comment, hundreds of people showed up last week to register their strong opposition to the proposal. But it seems that corrupt and short-sighted city officials may have already made up their minds, long before the public was even informed about the project at all.
Reklaim Technologies wants to make a killing. Literally, it seems. "Recycling" tires is the next big thing. They say they can get just over a gallon of oil for every tire they burn. They call themselves "eco-friendly," and their website is decorated with pictures of trees and waterfalls and hiking boots. They say that their "patented pending process" will "improve the environment." Those who know bullshit when they see it will recognize this for what it is. It's a lie. A story, manufactured to quell public concerns about the highly toxic process that this company will be using. A lie that will pave the way to profits for Reklaim technologies.
In order to convert waste tires into oil, Reklaim incinerators will burn them. The Sierra club is not fooled by the greenwahsed rhetoric. The environmental organization's website states:
"...the Sierra Club is against burning of waste tires. Incineration is not true recycling, and is not an 'environmentally safe transformation.' Tire incineration is a one-time conversion that produces increases in known carcinogens, and poses significant health risks."
The statement goes on to quote repeated and consistent studies which have shown that tire "recycling" in this manner presents unacceptable health hazards to the people who have to live around these plants. One study showed that cancer rates rose 20% in the area surrounding a tire burning plant. According to Clean Air Director Dr Neil Carmon, tire burning plants like the one proposed in St Helens lead to significant increases in the levels of mercury, lead, zinc, dioxins, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, arsenic, and benzene in the atmosphere around the plant. No matter how many assurances to the contrary are offered before the smoke stacks pierce the sky, the devastating truth comes belching out once the tires start burning. Further, the Sierra Club notes:
"Tire burning releases mercury into our air, which causes brain, lung, kidney damage, reproductive problems, and death. Just one drop of mercury can contaminate a 25 acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat, making mercury the most common reason for 'fish advisories.' EPA states that 6 million women of childbearing age have unsafe mercury levels in their bodies, and 375,000 babies are born each year at risk for neurological problems due to fetal mercury exposure."
Those of us who live here, along the Columbia river, are already well aware of the dangers and prevalence of mercury poisons in our environment. The fish who swim in our river are contaminated with mercury, and the horror of a mercury-induced birth defect is enough to stike terror into the heart of any expectant mother out here. We also know all about industrial waste, corruption, and betrayal by city officials. Some time back, the Port of St Helens gave 50 acres to Bergsoe Metal Corporation for an "eco friendly" project very similar to this one. The rhetoric was almost identical. Bergsoe built a lead "recycling" plant here, over the objections of people who knew better. The city let them. They said it would mean jobs, and development, and progress for the region. And then, they poisoned us. The site is still toxic. Bergsoe went bankrupt, the promised jobs evaporated, and the once-pristine wetlands became a superfund site. It was never really cleaned up, and it will never be the same again. And now, they want us to go through it all again.
They want us to just sit back and accept their assurances that this will be a clean, friendly, environmentally safe project. They want us to believe that our children will not be poisoned with their filth, no matter how many studies have shown otherwise. They want us to belive, that is, that nothing can ever go wrong. ...go wrong. ...go wrong.
The people of this community were not informed of the proposed facility until the last possible moment. Not until after city planner Skip Baker had apparently already given the green light to Reklaim Technologies, telling them that they could build the plant here. He did not even wait for public comment on the matter, but decided for himself. For all of us. For the sake of appearances, they went ahead and had a public meeting on the matter last week -- which hundreds of people attended. It was standing room only, and every single person who came was outspokenly opposed to the proposed facility. In the end, so many people wanted to speak that the meeting was finally called late in the night, with Baker magnanimously allowing a single week for people to submit written comments before the foregone decision will be announced. The deadline is tonight. Oh. Did I mention that one of the commissioners who will rubber stamp this decision has a daughter who is married to the land owner who stands to make a mint, selling us all out like this? I'm sure she can be objective, even so. Why wouldn't I have faith in my city officials, after all?
(By the way, I called Mr. Baker to register my own opposition, but was told by him that it didn't matter what I thought. All that mattered was "the law." He said the law is fair. The same law that allowed Bergsoe to destroy a swath of riverbank, the same law that allows Boise Cascade to stink up the air, the same law that lets Hanford puke up swill into the river far upstream that still poisons babies way down here in St Helens. I'm sure the law will be fair and impartial, and will consider the health and well being of the people of my community. Just as it always has.)
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