by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
My friend Dave received his degree in petroleum geology and went to work for oil companies even before graduation. His career took him to positions on seven continents, the last in South East Asia in 1996, working for Enron. That year Dave quit. The straw that broke the camel's back was the company's donation of a school built on land polluted by previous drilling. Enron took a tax deduction. Dave knew children would be dying.
Dave left his highly compensated job and retirement, returning to the US to work, unpaid, for Green Peace, who, at first, were very suspicious. Today Dave is an expert witness, recognized by the courts, for litigation on toxic waste. Dave is obsessively fact oriented, compiling data bases which include the entire US and much of the rest of the world.
It was Dave who told me Ashtabula ranked number one in 2010 (the most recent data available) in the US for pollutants in two categories. The companies involved, Dave said, have paid EPA fines, always exceeding the EPA limits for emissions into the air breathed by residents. One specific instance, on the part of one offending company included a fine, exacted by the EPA for carbon monoxide in 38 malfunction incidents in a five year period and their total fine paid was $100,000. The money was paid to the Ohio EPA, none going to anyone locally. The fine was specifically for, “Exceeding emission limits as the result of the use of a safety valve to bypass the units air pollution control equipment.”
Continuous exposure to 15 – 50 parts per million of these chemicals may cause head aches, dizziness, nausea, central nervous system effects, vertigo, amnesia, weakness and muscle cramps. People impacted may also begin to exhibit symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
Two of the offending plants are only .18 miles apart, located on Middle Road in Ashtabula.
“How long are you staying in the area?” Dave asked. Living with Superfund sites, especially these, may be hazardous to your health, he told me.
For several years now Dave has been working on a website, Were You Poisoned? Helping folks over come the effects is one of his passions. On his site he points to ways people can remove toxic waste from their systems. He also strongly recommends suing offending companies where companies have admitted their transgressions by, for instance, paying EPA fines.