Parker Street Waste Site

The Parker Street Waste Site…

As a resident of ward 3 my concern for the PSWS is divided into two major areas of focus; how will it affect the city’s overall financial future; how will we cope with the long term health impact the high school has already suffered?

Health Concerns

Citizens Leading Environmental Action Network Inc. (CLEAN) led by a number of citizen activists has been compiling a list of teachers, custodians and office workers who have been associated with the NBHS property for the last 40 years and have been stricken with some form of cancer or auto immune illness or disease. Its CLEAN’s assertion that the building and its underground, atmospheric, building materials and environmental contaminates has, over the course of years, contributed to the degeneration of health in those who spent the most time inside the school building.  Employees and students alike have been affected by illness.

As of August 21st 2011, the number of people who worked at NBHS who died from cancer stands at 71. Additionally, 49 people have survived at least one bout with cancer. This list is steadily growing as people come forward.

These numbers are sobering. Now, I know there is no way to prove that the exposure to “environmental” conditions at NBHS caused any of these illnesses however, I do know that knowing this information is cause enough to act. We need as a community to consider what we going to do to make the school safer until it is financial feasible to build a new school. It’s very possible that NBHS is a “sick building”, built during an era when we weren’t as aware of the ramifications of exposure to such hazardous materials as PCB’s, asbestos and lead as we are today.

Our Fiscal Future

New Bedford’s taxpayers deserve the respect of their leaders and have the right to know that an environmental disaster the size of the PSWS will affect everyone financially over the next decade, or longer. It is a fact, New Bedford is an industrial city with a number of “browns fields” and various pollutants in our soil across the city from its industrial heyday.

We must address the issues of impacted property values in and around the PSWS. Facilitating the purchases of the properties affected by the construction of the Keith Middle School, the current administration and ward 3 councilor, could conceivably allow other property owners negatively affected by the PSWS to demand the city buy their property as well. This precedent is a dangerous and potentially costly one.  This is bad for the tax base and of concern for what to do with those newly acquired properties. Now, this may never be an issue, no one may ever come forward to demand such an action take place. But the problem for us, as taxpayers is the threat is a real one and cannot be ignored.

In addition to this, we will have to be planning a new location and the construction of a new NBHS in the very near future. As well as potentially, those elementary schools built during the same era of school building, given its likely that the unsafe materials used at NBHS were used in a number of other schools built at the same time. One of which is also sited in ward 3.

What is a Superfund?

In order to answer my opponent’s questions as to my knowledge of superfunds. Yes, I have done my research and despite the government’s lack of willingness to fund the program consistently, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the PSWS could be deemed yet another one on the long list of potential federally recognized clean up initiatives.

Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA statute, CERCLA overview). This law was enacted in the wake of the discovery of toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal and Times Beach in the 1970s. It allows the EPA to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups.


1 Comment »

  1. avatar Lance Gunberg Says:

    Interesting that our current (non-existent) Ward 3 councilor, Cathy Dehner, related in a recent interview that was broadcast on public access cable said that the current situation concerning the Parker Street waste site was “out of her hands” as a city councilor. I lost 2 friends to cancer as a direct result of being employed by the high school. Two types of cancers that were incurable. This is a serious situation that requires all of the attention of the city, as well as that of the ward 3 councilor. This is NOT the type of situation that requires one to “sit back” becauser it is out of their hands. We need a strong voice and focused approach in ward 3. We have suffered FAR too long over the last 4 years under a councilor who is non-existent in city council meetings and offers no voice, or action involving the mounting problems facing ward 3. The time is ripe for a change and I feel that Henry Bousquet will be the voice for ward 3 and all of its constituents.

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