Saturday, October 11, 2014

No. 20 – November 14, 2012 - Sacrifice Zones in Ohio

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 

It sounds like a horror movie but the book by author Steve Lerner, is impeccably documented. Writing about Marietta, Ohio and the struggle there for families to ensure their children are not at risk of Manganese poisoning, Lerner said, “Eramet (which uses manganese, cadmium, and lead, among other feedstocks, to strengthen steel and purify chromium) releases tons of heavy metal dust into the air. It is one of the county’s top polluters.”

We thought we had the American dream,” says Lesley Kuhl, who since 2002 has lived with her husband and two young children on a quiet, leafy street in Marietta, Ohio.

Mrs. Kuhl is a Republican, a licensed attorney, who considered herself conservative, when the threat to her children forced her into action along with both environmental activists and others in her town, like Caroline Beidler, who could no longer ignore the visible impact of pollutants on the health of their families.

Caroline Beidler and her husband, Keith Bailey, a carpenter, had built their “dream home,” in Marietta, Ohio. At the time they were unaware that their little piece of heaven was only four miles, as the crow flies, from the French-owned ferroalloy plant of Eramet Marietta, Inc.

Their efforts transitioned from an informal club which logged the ugly odors carried by the breeze from the plant to increasingly organized efforts to stop the emissions. These struggles began in 2002. They continue today to stop the flow of toxic air into their homes.

In Ashtabula, Ohio, the reported levels of Manganese releases are higher. The chief polluter is Saudi Arabian.

The frightening reality is until people locally organize and take action the EPA is content to collect fines for violating emissions standards. The level of 'proof' required to enforce standards which cause no harm are based not on 'clear and convincing evidence,' the standard for civil litigation, but the far more stringent standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” required in criminal cases.

The impact of Manganese is devastating, mimicking conditions as Parkinson's Disease, not treatable by therapies now in use.

Children and older people are the most vulnerable, as activists in Marietta reported. If you know someone who is experiencing, “mental confusion, impaired memory, loss of appetite, mask-like facial expression and monotonous voice, spastic gait, or neurological problems the cause may be Manganese poisoning. Check out the symptoms. Get the facts. Doing so protects us here in Ashtabula.

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