The Alliance For A Clean Environment
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Legal Action and ACE – A Position Statement
Dr. Lewis Cuthbert, ACE President
September, 2002

Victims of exposure in this toxic damaged area need to consider every avenue that is available to protect their future, as well as their health. Over the years, as a community and an organization, we have pursued many options to defend our rights to clean air and safe water. Legal options now need to be explored as another avenue of defense.

Major polluters emit massive poisons into our air and water every day of every year. These toxic substances can have many kinds of harmful health effects on victims of exposure to them. DEP issues permit after permit to these polluters with no regard to the health consequences of their decisions.

For almost seven years, ACE has been watchdog of the environment in the Greater Pottstown Area. We saw and heard, firsthand, the suffering of far too many adults and children.

ACE supports people protecting themselves in every way possible. While ACE will not be part of this legal action, we encourage anyone in the Greater Pottstown Area, who feels they have been harmed, to consider this avenue with these law firms. Baron and Budd is one of the largest toxic tort law firms in the nation. The Mueller Law Offices have experience in protecting the well being of children.

Legal action is just one avenue to achieve environmental justice.
    • ACE will still be working to minimize or eliminate our pollution risks.

    • ACE will still be challenging our politicians to fight for you and not those who poison you.

    • ACE will still be trying to secure funding for a proactive health initiative. ACE wants to eliminate exposure risks, collect clinical data on people, and provide help and assistance to them in the form of education.

    • The main goal of ACE is the prevention of environmental illness and disease.
WHY has legal action become a necessary tool
to protect the rights of exposure victims?

ACE has struggled to try to defend our region from not only the major polluters, but also PA DEP, and even our elected state politicians. Major air pollution presents many serious threats to the health of all who breathe our air. Health risks will increase as a result of DEP’s air pollution permits. The lack of political will to address the polluters by State Representatives Dailey and Hennessey, and Senator Geralch has enabled a bad situation to continually get worse.

For over four years, ACE persistently attempted to get Governors Ridge and Schweiker to meet with a delegation from Pottstown. Both refused. This speaks volumes. We’ve been treated like a sacrifice zone to accommodate giant polluting industries.

State Senator Jim Gerlach, and Representatives Mary Ann Dailey and Tim Hennessey all failed to defend our rights. They lacked common sense and the political will to take strong protective action, in spite of clear well-documented evidence of harm. We needed these politicians to defend our constitutional rights to safe air and clean water, as well as a healthy future. All three chose to remain in denial to protect the polluters who poison our air and water. Their failure to join area physicians and the community to protect people in our area is shameful. Their newest tactics to avoid taking action are disgraceful. Their attempt to discredit well-documented evidence of harm is appalling. Gerlach, Dailey, and Hennessey appear to have chosen their party’s financial support over our health and safety.

PA DEP interprets its regulations according to the political party in power.
    • DEP’s standards and regulations don’t protect us. DEP protects polluters, not the public. DEP makes its decisions based on politics and profits.

    • DEP’s standards and regulations have been weakened to the point that it is almost impossible for polluters to violate the law, regardless of the human consequences.

    Example: Occidental emitted about one and 1/2 million pounds of vinyl chloride into our air from 1988 to 2000. Vinyl chloride is documented to cause cancer and other serious health problems in humans. Ironically, vinyl chloride is not the only hazardous substance Occidental emits into our air every year. Still, DEP recently issued a permit to Occidental to increase its hazardous air emissions to burn landfill gas as fuel. Just as bad, DEP refused to revoke that permit when the project was ended.

    • There are either meaningless or NO penalties for violations.

    • Polluters are permitted to do their own monitoring, testing, and reporting.

    • DEP ignores synergistic, additive, and cumulative health effects of the poisons they allow into our air and water.

    • DEP uses numerous dangerous loopholes to give polluters what they want.

    • DEP repeatedly ignored its own mission statement to protect our environment and our health.

    • DEP ignored all the evidence of harm presented by our community.

    • DEP just issued 4 air pollution permits to major polluters in the Greater Pottstown Area in less than one year. These will add additional threats to health, especially to thousands of our children and people already sick.
DEP failed to protect us. It is clear that residents, especially those already at risk, in the Greater Pottstown Area need other avenues of defense.

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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