The Alliance For A Clean Environment

Printable Version

Dr. Lewis Cuthbert
Press Conference Statement

The Greater Pottstown Area and surrounding communities have become a sacrifice zone to major polluting industries. They poison our air with large amounts of extremely hazardous chemicals, which also contaminate our water, soil, food, and slowly destroy our health and quality of life."

What is going on?

  • We have become a toxic damaged region.
  • Living here has caused us to develop a chemical plague.
  • DEP issued 4 air pollution permits in the last 10 months, ignoring our health crisis.
  • We breathe air in the top 10% of the most carcinogenic and unhealthy in the nation. Those TRI statistics do not even include Pottstown Landfill's hazardous air emissions or dioxin by-products from either facility.
  • Enormous amounts of extremely hazardous air emissions from Occidental Chemical's PVC production and Pottstown Landfill gas pour into our air every day of every year.
  • Testing, monitoring, and reporting are done on the honor system by the polluters.
  • One of the most hazardous emissions, DIOXIN is not required to be monitored or reported by DEP or EPA.
  • Additive effects (years of poisoning), and synergistic effects of extremely hazardous emissions mixing from one facility and all facilities together, have been ignored by DEP in the permitting process.
  • DEP issued 4 major air pollution permits, (2 Waste Management) (2 Occidental) with no reductions. Increases permitted at Occidental will cause unacceptable concentrations of some of the most hazardous chemicals known to mankind.
  • Governors Ridge and Schweiker, Senator Gerlach, and Representative Dailey failed to get DEP's permit which allow this extreme hazardous concentration at Occidental withdrawn, to protect tens of thousands of people in this region. They appear to value profits and politics more than our right to clean air, pure water, safe soil, and optimum health.
  • These state officials were asked to intervene by the majority of physicians from two area hospitals, Pottstown's Mayor and other local elected officials, area leaders and businessmen, and hundreds of area residents, in addition to ACE.
  • Pollution permits in Pottstown were based on politics, NOT SOUND SCIENCE!
  • DEP interprets its regulations for pollution permits according to the Governor's policies.
  • Have area residents been sacrificed by our elected state officials because the world-wide wealthy polluters in Pottstown are generous to those who help them get what they want?

Would you believe?
  • When Ridge left office he said "We forged a fundamentally new environmental partnership. We rejected the "gotcha" approach of the old DEP."
  • Ridge continuously lowered DEP's already unprotective standards and regulations and virtually ended fines for violations. DEP now calls the polluters their clients and rubberstamps permits to pollute regardless of what they do to PA citizens.

Ridge's partnership with the polluters is taking its toll in the Greater Pottstown Area. We're a sad example of the consequences of Ridge policies on PA residents. Ridge's new partnership is at the public's expense, physically and financially.
It is clear why Governor's Ridge and Schweiker have refused to meet with a delegation of physicians, local officials, area leaders and businessmen from Pottstown and ACE. It is hard to face the people you are sacrificing.

PA Residents have a RIGHT TO CLEAN AIR under the PA Constitution. DEP is supposed to defend that right and protect our air and our health.

"DEP failed us in its mission to protect people in this region!"

Irresponsible and Unresponsive DEP actions:

1. Too many people are already suffering from environmentally related illnesses. Our extremely hazardous air is obviously a major factor, yet DEP continues to issue air pollution permit after permit, ignoring all the evidence of harm.

2. ACE and local elected officials repeatedly asked DEP to do comprehensive continuous perimeter monitoring, using an EPA approved method, around the Pottstown Landfill and Occidental Chemical, to identify all the hazards we are forced to breathe from these facilities.

3. This monitoring should have been done BEFORE 5-year air permits were issued to Occidental and the Pottstown Landfill.
    a. DEP issued a 5-year pollution permit to the Pottstown Landfill without knowing our full health risks from Pottstown Landfill gas. DEP has no clue what all is in Pottstown Landfill gas or what it has already done to the health of the people.

    b. DEP only ever tested Pottstown Landfill gas ONE time, after being shamed into it by the media. The testing was both inadequate and fatally flawed.

We asked for continuous perimeter monitoring and reductions
from both major polluters for their 5-year air permits.
DEP ignored us!
"DEP failed to protect us. Both 5-year air permits were issued
without reductions and without continuous perimeter monitoring."
If the whole truth were known,
reductions would be imperative over the next five years.
DEP has irresponsibly further jeopardized our future.

ACE takes steps to try to protect area residents!
"The Toxic Turnaround"

Today we are announcing
Step # 7 - "The Bucket Brigade"

Why citizens' air monitoring?

"We have no confidence in self testing, self monitoring, and self reporting by the polluters"

"Unresponsive, unacceptable DEP actions and positions in our community have led to ever-increasing health risks. We don't trust DEP to tell us toe truth or protect us. DEP is clearly working with and for the polluters that they paid by the public to regulate."

Would you believe? Ridiculous and unacceptable!
DEP uses 'sniffers' to respond to citizens odor complaints. These 'sniffers' show up long after a citizen reports an odor problem (according to some, it was days later).
    a. A major release can't be identified days after the fact.

    b. DEP 'sniffers' are hardly a reliable or scientific method to identify a problem coming from the amounts and kinds of massive hazardous substances emitted into our air by the Pottstown Landfill and Occidental Chemical.

Unresponsive and unacceptable!
Instead of continuous perimeter monitoring around the Pottstown Landfill and Occidental Chemical, DEP set up ONE monitoring station.
Even worse;
1. This will only monitor for a fraction of the hazardous substances in Pottstown Landfill gas.

2. While DEP will finally monitor for vinyl chloride, it is upwind of Occidental, one of the largest emitters of vinyl chloride in the nation.

3. Calibration for monitoring -
"Even 'IF' DEP calibrates the instruments to find anything (which we doubt), there is no way DEP can determine our health risks with one air monitoring station when it will not monitor for all the poisons emitted into our air."
  • If instruments are calibrated at levels not to find a problem, they won't.
  • Many of the chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation in Pottstown Landfill gas will not be monitored.
  • Both the Pottstown Landfill and Occidental expose us to unknown amounts of dioxin which also will not be monitored. Synergistic and cumulative health risks can not be determined if all hazardous emissions are not determined.

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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