Friday, June 07, 2013

Update on Metro Water's petroleum pile and chemical dump

Thanks to those of you sending me emails offering to share costs of an injunction against Metro Water for risking our watershed with chemical debris and petroleum-imbued soil. While the resources look like they could be there via donors-to-the-cause, I am not willing to take time away from my family to mount an injunction as the only named plaintiff without a lawyer. Many of you know that my wife is about to start chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. Our 4th grader is going to need me, too, through this difficult time. Taking on a Metro agency in the courts by myself would not be realistic or prudent.

Organizations need to get involved in this, and frankly I'm surprised that they have turned a blind eye to the potential fouling of a major middle Tennessee water source.

I'm not expecting much from Germantown's association since they came right out in the paper and said they do not care what MWS is putting in its new landfill. Salemtown Neighbors has been curiously mum on the question. I understand that the mission of Cumberland River Compact is to focus on education and helping individuals do things on their own (rain gardens and stream clean-up) to enhance the watershed, but I cannot fathom why they might not at least express support for those of us who oppose a landfill 300 yards from the Cumberland. The North Nashville Political Forum has not issued any responses. The locally influential Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship has not given this problem any of its attention. The NAACP has also been silent. And as much as she makes a point of issuing public statements in response to various Metro actions, Sharon Hurt, Director of Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (JUMP) has not said a word about this. This problem has not even come up for discussion on the Nashville Neighborhoods elist, which is predictably consumed with bus rapid transit (North Nashville problems rarely get any attention there, despite recurring expectations that I blog about West Nashville problems). Associations representing developers, realtors and business owners are practically invisible.

And yet, any change, whether prompted by the Metro Council or by the courts, is going to require the help and resources of organizations, not just individuals. These organizations will rue their current decision to sit on the sidelines in the future when studies start unfolding of higher incidences of cancer in the area around the landfill or when someone accidentally digs up something toxic that Metro Water buried decades earlier like they still do around Love Canal. Speaking of Love Canal, it was the homeowners association president there who ignored criticism that she was overreacting to clay-capped chemicals that were not believed to be a problem. In the end, her opposition made the federal government's tighter restrictions on dumping a reality. I just cannot believe that Metro Water Services and the Mayor's Office can get away with burying any carcinogenic debris or soil so close to neighborhoods and Nashville's major river 35 years after Love Canal.

Likewise, I just cannot believe that so many in this growing community choose to stick their heads firmly in the sand as the chemicals are being dumped and buried with faulty oversight.

In the meantime, I am getting no responses to my emails to Metro government for action on the new landfill. Metro Water is not responding to my last email asking them to clarify where the drain right next to the petroleum pile leads. After an initial response of opposition to the landfill, CM Erica Gilmore is not corresponding with me about any work she might be doing on this matter. Add that to her failure to get back to me 3 years ago about dark residue around the area's greenway at MWS.

After two weeks of this story gaining traction, responses and outcry seem to be dying down. That is good for the bureaucrats at Metro Water who want to sneak this problem through. It is bad for those of us in the community who will have to suffer the consequences of their irresponsibility.

Irony across the street from the new MWS landfill.

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