The following was originally published in my Sept 14, 2019 Newsletter in the “Additional Thoughts” section
This past week, City Council participated in a joint meeting with other local governments and intervenors in the state lawsuit against Gelman industries re: dioxane pollution in our groundwater. After public comments, we had a lengthy closed session with attorneys, discussing terms of settlement, issues of negotiation, and various options moving forward. Currently, I cannot share any details about this process or its terms because I am bound by confidentiality. However, for those of you who could not attend this meeting to hear the public comments, I am happy to share my own take on what we heard from residents and, generally, what those comments mean to me as an elected representative.
Overwhelmingly, public comment at our meeting was in support of a Superfund designation, asking the EPA to intervene in cleaning up the Dioxine plume. We heard from environmental advocates who have been engaged and involved in the issue for years, local experts who have been studying the data and progression of this plume for decades, and other residents who are simply fed up and want to see the best possible cleanup for the benefit of future generations. We heard from people who have earned the equivalent of a PhD specifically on the topic of the dioxine plume (people who have studied the topic a whole lot longer than it takes to earn the average PhD).
Our legal case gives us access to consultant experts but I also take seriously the input we get from local advocates. In any situation, I would take local advocate input seriously, but in this case particularly, their ongoing, informed commitment to this issue is worthy of our attention. Many local residents have been waiting a long time for our local government to aggressively pursue remedies. I understand their relief at seeing (finally), in the last six months, some coordinated discussion among elected officials. The concerns and goals of local residents are not unreasonable; they are not asking for unicorns and rainbows. Their advocacy is informed, meaningful and important.
City Council will be participating in another joint meeting on December 12, with interim deadlines and internal updates between now and then. I look forward to eventually sharing more details about this when I am legally permitted to do so.