This is the story of Leslie Rowland, a local woman who lived with Lyme disease for 16 years before she was diagnosed, on another installment of WFHB’s Cast of Characters series with reporter Amanda Marino.
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Volunteers at Hoosier Hills Food Bank are in the process of sorting and sending 18 tons of food received over the weekend; Three-quarters of a million Hoosiers could be eligible for refunds from their cellular service providers, thanks to a lawsuit settlement announced today; A study done by an IU environmental scientist and colleagues finds the environment in the United States is exposed to far more animal hormones than once thought; Representative Todd Young is teaming with the City of Bloomington and WorkOne South Central to host a job fair in Bloomington this June; Indiana University has received two National Science Foundation research grants totaling $8.6 million, according to a press release from IU; The Monroe County Board of Zoning Appeals considered problems related to development in Karst areas at a meeting last week.
The story of a local woman who lived with Lyme disease for 16 years before she was diagnosed, another installment of WFHB’s Cast of Characters series.
INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Dial This Extension for Money Smarts – Along with every other Indiana county, we have a Purdue University Extension that offers free resources to the community. Among those resources, says Emily Roth, are information and education related to managing your money better.
Anchors: Casey Kuhn, Chris Martin
Today’s headlines were written by Kara Tullman, Joe Crawford and Sierra Gardner
Along with David Murphy for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Amanda Marino
The Ins and Outs of Money is produced by Ryan Stacy and edited by Dan Withered, in partnership with the Monroe County Public Library and The United Way of Monroe County.
Our engineer is Harrison Wagner
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Executive Producer is Joe Crawford.
For decades, a group of chemical compounds called PCBs have caused massive problems in Bloomington. Although there has been relatively little public discussion about the contaminants in the past decade, a citizen group called Healthy Monroe County has recently reignited the issue. That has caused some in the community to call for more information about the current status of PCB contamination in the city. WFHB contributor Emily Beck brings us this report.
Following requests from the public, several weeks ago the Bloomington Utilities Department released a list of properties in the city that may be contaminated with PCBs. The list includes residences that may have received polluted sludge given away as fertilizer decades ago by the Winston-Thomas Waste Water Treatment Plant.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a synthetic chemical harmful to humans. The Westinghouse Electric Company opened a Bloomington plant in 1957 and used PCBs as insulating fluid in capacitors and transformers. The chemical was banned in the United States in 1979, but not before spreading across Bloomington and the world.
Recently, controversy has surrounded the city’s list of properties. Members of the citizen group Healthy Monroe County, headed by John Smith, have been vying for government documents concerning PCBs. One of those documents is this list.
“As far as I know, people could be living in houses without knowing they’re contaminated,” Smith said. “There was one Herald-Times article published some time ago that addressed this list. It had a phone number to (Utilities Department Deputy Director) John Langley and said anyone that thinks they may have been contaminated on their property can give them a call and see if their address is listed. But one news article is really lacking for such a concern. I think the list should really be published.”
That Herald Times article was published in 2008, and gave an overview of the results from testing. The city provided Smith with a copy of the residence list several weeks ago. Smith has since provided a copy to WFHB.
The utilities department was hesitant about releasing the list, according to Langley. Langley has worked for the city for decades and he tested some properties for PCBs back in 1989 and 1990. He says the list isn’t conclusive and it may not be completely accurate. The origins of the list go back to the mid-1970s, when city officials first realized PCB-contaminated sludge had been distributed to residents. At that time, Langley says the city decided to hold a press conference.
“And they said if you bring us a sample, we’ll test it,” Langley said. “The process was not controlled from a scientific standpoint whatsoever. So you could bring it in in a coffee can or a paper bag or whatever you wanted to. They sampled it and reported it later on a spreadsheet.”
Questions of accuracy
The list includes 126 properties throughout the city, lots of them in residential neighborhoods. But Langley says simply because a property is on the list, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is — or ever was — PCB contamination there.
Langley says most of the potentially contaminated sites have never been tested, often because the city couldn’t get permission to enter the property. He gives lots of reasons for that. Maybe an incomplete address was on file, or the original property owner moved and didn’t give a forwarding address, or the property owner was dead or unknown.
According to a testing report, “Although CBU has files on about 126 properties alleged to have received sludge, some of the files are very incomplete and not enough information exists to even contact the property owner.”
The utilities department began what is called a Uniform Testing Program in 1989. That included sending letters to 102 of the owners whose properties were on the list. They couldn’t get contact information for all 126.
72 out of the 102 letters were received. The rest were returned unopened, according to Langley. Just more than half of the property owners on this list were ever successfully contacted about the alleged contamination of their land.
The letters contained a questionnaire asking how much sludge property owners used on their yards. It also asked them to give the city permission to test their soil for the chemical, according to Langley.
39 property owners said no to testing. The letter made it clear that the results would be public record. Owners may have feared repercussions, including reduced property values or liability issues — and the city was concerned too.
“So it became obvious to us rather early, that information as to whether or not you’ve got PCBs, you can be on this list and we’ve got no proof of anything,” Langley said. “So do we really want to make public a list of maybe maybe nots? And if we do that, do we damage people who are either trying to sell real estate or buy real estate?”
In total, 29 of the 126 sites were tested for PCBs. The city tested 26 as part of the Uniform Testing Program. John Langley tested two before the program began, and one property owner opted to have tests done independently.
In most cases, the tests didn’t find PCB levels that government officials considered dangerous.
At seven of the sites, no PCBs were detected. According to that Herald Times article, “…four sites had detectable concentrations between .1 and 1 parts per million; twelve sites ranged from 1.0-3.7 ppm and three sites ranged between 3.7 and 22 ppm.”
If PCB levels were above 10 parts per million, which is a level determined by an EPA policy, a second test was done.
“The preponderance of the data said, “less than a part per million,” Langley said. “Great news.”
More contaminated sites possible
But the majority of the residences on the list — 97 total — went untested. Their levels can’t be known for certain.
Other sites could exist as well.
Some citizens took old capacitors home to harvest for their valuable parts. Local attorney Mick Harrison, who has been working on the PCB issue for decades, says that could have caused even more contamination.
“There were several of what we call salvage sites where folks had taken some of the PCB capacitors and transformers off the dump sites,” Harrison said. “They actually transported this material to their homes and salvaged the copper and aluminum for resale in their backyards, dumping the PCBs in the process. We now have a number of properties contaminated that way that are not being cleaned up.”
Despite concerns from some Bloomington residents, Langley says city officials have reservations about how this list of 126 properties is used. He says the data on file could have come from a bad sample. Homeowners who had nothing to do with the sludge, but who own property on this list, could be damaged.
Smith and members of Healthy Monroe County, however, want property owners to know if PCBs are present in their soil — that way they can deal with contaminated land and avoid becoming sick from exposure.
In a recent interview with WFHB, Harrison asked the city to consider entering a mediation process with residents affected by contamination.
“I would encourage listeners to contact their elected officials locally and see if the city would accept our, at the moment, informal invitation…to sit down with us in a formal mediation…and to talk through the problem and to see if we can come up with a path forward that we can all agree on,” he said.
So far the city has not made any public statements in response to the request of a mediation process. Langley said citizens concerned about the possibility of PCBs on their property should contact the city utilities department for testing.
Editor’s Note: For some of the reasons explained in this article, WFHB has chosen not to publish the list of potentially-contaminated properties online at this time. Copies are available from the City of Bloomington. WFHB will continue researching the status of PCBs in Bloomington in the coming months.
Beverly Calender-Anderson and Leila Randle welcome Donald Griffin Jr.
On tonight’s show, Beverly and Leila welcome Donald Griffin Jr., real estate broker and owner of Griffin Reality. He joins us to talk about his realty business and also educate listeners on effective strategies for home buying and selling.
Headline news and local calendar events of interest to the African-American community.
Hosts: Beverly Calender-Anderson and Leila Randle
Bring It On! is produced by Clarence Boone
Executive Producer is Joe Crawford
Our News Editor is Michael Nowlin
Our Board Engineer is Chris Martin
“Exploring with Robert McAlmon” is a three-episode series of fiction and poetry by one of the lesser-known Modernists. McAlmon has been called a leading “spokesman of the post-war nihilistic pessimism of the Lost Generation.” He was publisher and hard-drinking companion of many of the major Modernists writing in English, including James Joyce, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway.
Graduation day at Indiana University brings the conclusion of “A Vacation’s Job”, as a white male college student combats his intellectual ennui with a summer job supervising manual laborers. David’s “racial tourism” brings him into contact with the vital culture of African Americans in the 1920s, but his experiences are constrained by racist prejudices and sense of superiority. (Listeners are advised that the story contains offensive and derogatory racial and ethnic characterizations and language that reflect attitudes of the 1920s.) “A Vacation’s Job” is read by Phil Kasper.
The short “A Boy’s Discovery” deals with sexual identity and childhood vulnerability, and like “A Vacation’s Job, hints at autobiographical elements, such as the author’s own peripatetic upbringing and bisexuality. Shayne Laughter reads a wistful, comic but unsparing story about growing up in small-town America. Both stories come from McAlmon’s 1921 short-story collection A Hasty Bunch.
Sarah Torbeck hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. This episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with production assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck and Jack Hanek.
Special music for the episode comes from the 1920s classics ““Take Me Away from the River” by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra; “Sidewalk Blues” by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers; and Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, written about the time A Hasty Bunch was first published. and performed by Carlos Benito de la Gala and Alberto Gorrochategui Blanco on their album Kodaly and Ravel (KalilaDimna, 2011)
Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes
The Bloomington City Council has begun a process to make Bloomington’s Courthouse Square a Local Historic District; Fewer than 7 percent of Bloomington’s registered voters showed up to the polls during the municipal primary election last week; The reptile rescue and education team, Scaly Tailz, is asking for donations to help them relocate.
For decades, a group of chemical compounds called PCBs have caused massive problems in Bloomington. Although there has been relatively little public discussion about the contaminants in the past decade, a citizen group called Healthy Monroe County has recently reignited the issue. That has caused some in the community to call for more information about the current status of PCB contamination in the city.
Our weekly segment spotlighting people working for positive change in our community.
Anchors: Emily Beck, Doug Storm
Today’s headlines were written by Sierra Gardner
Along with David Murphy for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Emily Beck
Activate! is produced by Jennifer Whitaker, along with the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network
Our engineer is Chris Martin
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Executive producer is Joe Crawford
Los locutores de HOLA Bloomington Minerva Sosa, Luz Maria López y Maria Auxiliadora Viloria entrevistan a mamás de nuestra comunidad en honor al día de las madres. Hablan de lo que se significa ser mamá y de los mejores consejos que les dieron sus madres.
Hola Bloomington hosts Minerva Sosa, Luz Maria López and Maria Auxiliadora Viloria interview moms from our community in honor of Mother’s Day. They discuss what it means to be a mother and the best advice they got from their moms.
Tonight, hosts Jeff Poling and Ryne Shadday interview our guest Jeanne Smith, an activist, an environmentalist, a humanist. She describes herself as a hoosier philosopher, a free thinker, an absolute relativist, a nude transvestite, a transsexual, a full time crossdresser and someone transgender. She has been living as a woman for the past seven years. Our music for tonight was “Ghost Town” by Adam Lambert. The bloomingOUT staff would like to give a special thanks to Jeanne Smith for joining us tonight.
Hosts Jeff Poling, Ryne Shadday
Executive Producer Joe Crawford
Producer Olivia Davidson
Script Coordinator Hayley Bass
Board Engineers Carissa Barrett, Jacob Samples
social media coordinators Megan McCullough, and Jorge Guillen, and Andrew Sims