…in a community that would like to pride itself on being environmentally friendly and attracting people to a safe, comfortable place to live, such as Bloomington, we don’t want to admit that we’ve got this huge unresolved problem; it’s not good for our image. I think the community leaders, the elected officials, have been schizophrenic about dealing with this problem they’ve had a lot of reservations with facing up to it….You can’t just sweep it under the rug. It’s an ethical issue. –Mick Harrison, Public Interest and Environmental Attorney
Yesterday WFHB’s Daily Local News reported that though 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. And on April 30th WFHB’s EcoReport aired an interview with Public Interest and Environmental Lawyer Mick Harrison, and Retired Senior Greenpeace Scientist Pat Costner about PCBs, their health effects, and the current state of the clean-up in Monroe County.
In complement to this we revisit an archive Interchange from September of 2007 about PCB contamination in Bloomington and the ongoing struggle of local activists and concerned citizens to make headway on a real clean-up of this environment hazard which was inflicted on Bloomington by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation between 1957 and 1977.
Westinghouse’s disposal practices were neither abnormal or illegal during this period. However, with the passage of environmental legislation in the 1970s, these disposal practices were halted. Furthermore, environmental legislation made those responsible for pollution strictly liable for the cleanup even if their disposal actions were legal at the time. In 1977 Westinghouse halted production of capacitors using PCBs due to the Toxic Substances Control Act that specified PCBs as a hazardous substance.
Since 1957…58 years and counting…
In this archive episode of Interchange Host Mylo Roze probes Bloomington’s PCB problem with key figures in the fight for public health. Mylo is joined in the studio by Environmental Attorney Mick Harrison and Citizen Activist Greg Moore. Addressed are the history, scope, sites and current status of PCB contamination in the Bloomington area due to dumping by the Westinghouse corporation. The state of then-current litigation against the EPA and the initiation of a new Action Group to get the remaining PCB contaminated materials and soil into sealed bunkers are explained. Possible liability of the City of Bloomington, cover-ups by local government officials and dump sites being ignored by the EPA are also mentioned. Toxic health effects, the ailments of former Westinghouse workers and our legacy of poisoning future generations are also dealt with in this ‘PCB episode’. The apathy and anxiety of the average Bloomingtonian regarding the issue are also spoken to by guests Moore & Harrison.
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Adam Reichle
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford