Having a rational debate

This letter is in response to Mr. Roeten’s letter to the editor [“Superfunds-R-Us,” Feb. 27] [and] his description of “people [losing] rational thought” at a meeting concerning the CTS toxic site on Mills Gap Road.

I too was at this meeting at the fire station, as well as many other meetings concerning the CTS toxic plume and other safety issues on Mills Gap Road in Arden. What I have observed at all these meetings are concerned residents questioning the EPA, DENR, county health department, county commissioners, [the] Planning Department and the Board of Adjustment members about the various safety, legal and economic issues that directly impact them. At no time did I observe even one “irrational” person speak out or ask a question. That is, unless asking pointed questions concerning a multitude of relatives and neighbors that have died, are dying and will die is somehow considered irrational.

It is my view that we have been witnessing irrational decisions being made in haste by our governmental authorities and appointed boards. I’ll ask, then: Is it rational to approve housing developments in dangerous areas without examining, in detail, the very real dangers those new residents will contend with? Is it rational for politicians to ignore petitions signed by hundreds of residents expressing their concerns about the health, welfare and safety of their own children? Is it rational for governmental departments to lose official records of their decisions approving new developments in the area? Is it rational that a commissioner breaks up a presentation to Rep. Heath Shuler’s representative concerning development on a [potentially] fatal floodplain?

I submit that what Mr. Roeten actually witnessed were fair-minded citizens speaking out in knowledge, grief and frustration to irrational governmental agencies that have allowed multiple deaths and economic nightmares to take place and grow in the toxic Mills Gap Road area.

What is desperately needed now is a federal board of inquiry to examine, in depth, our various governmental agencies’ actions and the resulting consequences, and then to recommend and oversee implementation of effective solutions. I believe all “rational” people would greatly benefit from a timely and impartial examination of the facts. Or perhaps—in hopes of getting their rationality back—all affected citizens should just shut up, be content living in their now-worthless property and witness more of their neighbors and relatives being buried prematurely?

(Readers of Mountain Xpress can find out about the health effects of TCE exposure at www.tceblog.com.)

— Scott Hallowell

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