Let’s move on hazardous waste

Concerning the article on CTS [“Fail-safe? Hazardous-waste Site Falls Through Regulatory Cracks,” July 11], I want to express my deep gratitude to Dave Ogren, who called the Department of Environment and Natural Resources back in 1990; Barry Durand, who did his research and brought the situation to the attention of the Mountain X; Rebecca Bowe, who wrote a great, factual article, hopefully leaving the reader a little wiser to the fact that “going green” is a multitask undertaking—something that requires the watchdog citizen to stay awake. 

Our Buncombe County Hazardous Waste Manager Denese Ballew made it very clear that the federal, state and county agencies all pass the buck of responsibility to the general public: “A lot of times it comes down to the land purchaser doing their job.”

So folks, never mind that there are 684 inactive hazardous sites statewide, we have to get started on the 27 of them here in Buncombe County—because if someone buys a toxic site, knowingly or not, our government basically does not care. And never mind the hazardous-waste sites on the government list, because whatever level of government you go to for help, it won’t be their department that has jurisdiction. It all makes “going green” seem so easy and fun, just like the mass media portrays.

I feel very angry at our government agencies—which we pay to protect us—and at the same time feel so much gratitude that we live in an area where so many citizens are willing to volunteer their time, energy and money to support our environment and health.  Thank god there is a newspaper that puts it all on the front page.

There is no question in my mind that Durand is correct when he states, “Somebody right now may be drinking some very ‘hot’ water.” I suppose the biggest question of all is how many citizens will actively hold our government agencies accountable and require them to do their job? Phone calls and letters to agencies and politicians, volunteering for and/or donating to environmental groups really does make a difference. I can only hope other readers and those who heard about the toxic water on the radio feel emotionally moved enough to do something. The calendar section of this paper is full of options to get involved. My heart goes out to those who have suffered physically due to the ignorance and negligence of all involved.

— Laura Sorensen

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