I think it is time for our local leaders to reexamine the handling of the trichloroethylene spill in Endicott. Thus far the public policy, from my perspective, has been to shout “we want action” to any government agency or company who will listen. By this papers own account those policy makers and scientists from whom we are seeking help “have little consensus on what levels pose a health threat.” Why would we as a local community put our trust into these individuals to solve our problems, when by their own admission they can’t even accurately define the problem? There is also an inherent conflict of interest in this policy since those people from whom we are seeking professional advice (IBM, NY State, DEC) are the same organizations that would end up paying for whatever solution they would propose.
If we are to be honest with ourselves, we must recognize that the only people who give a damn about what happens to this community are the people who live here. And were this a small farming community we would have little choice but to “hope for the best” and let the higher authorities solve our problems. But in Broome County we have a first class university (and many others within arms reach) with dozens of qualified PhD’s we can tap, who are always looking for meaningful research projects. Not to mention the tens of thousands of capable scientists, engineers and students who call this area home, and would be more than willing to help their neighbors in need. While true that we do not posses the monetary capital to fix this problem, we certainly do posses the intellectual capital needed to find a solution. And while proceeding on this path, would undoubtedly require more work then our current “let someone else handle it” approach. In the end, we would have a much stronger case for forcing those responsible into taking the necessary redeeming actions.
-By Russell Petrosky
Editor's Note: This is a letter to the editor of the Press and Sun Bulletin that was also sent to us for publication. It refers to a chemical spill that occurred earlier this year in the village of Endicott. For more details, check out the CNY Ecoblog's post on the subject. -Jesse