Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

With all due respect, the article in the recent Save the Pine Bush newsletter titled "Bethlehem Pickled," was inaccurate in several important respects.

As the reporter who has been writing on this issue from the get-go (for The Spotlight), I have to disagree with some of the characterizations made about local and state officials.

Number one, there was never any attempt made by Bethlehem town officials to have residents drink water out of the Hudson River. The town's new water supply comes from an aquifer underneath the Hudson River, the purity of which has been confirmed time and time again.

Second, town officials, once they were alerted to the dangers of formaldehyde by concerned citizens, quickly acted to assume local control for the environmental review of the project.

Third, air models of the Spurlock formaldehyde production plant proposed for Route 144 have not yet been finished and there is no proof or even suggestion that the air emissions from this plant would produce any appreciable amounts of this or any other pollutant. Fourth, Spurlock Adhesives did send representatives to the recent public hearing on the project, but they chose not to speak because they did not have the technical data available to answer questions or allay concerns. Plus, they felt, rightly or wrongly, that the highly charged emotions at this hearing would not allow them to give their side of the story.

To imply that the fix is in is rather ridiculous. I have been covering environmental issues in the Hudson Valley for more than 10 years, and while we like to paint things in black and white because it's easier that way, seldom if ever is this the case.

Sincerely, Mel Hyman

A note from the editor:

In the last SPB newsletter, it is true we implied that "the fix is in." However, now we have proof. According to an article written in the Saturday, February 8 issue of the Hearst-owned Times Union, no less that columnist Fred LeBrun explained how the fix is in. I quote:

"From correspondence gotten through the Freedom of Information Act by an opposition citizens group, it's obvious the chemical manufacturing plant is being enticed here with everything but an ironclad assurance there'd be no obstacle, no regulations to get in the way. Plus, the state's come hither fan dance, through the Empire State Development Corp., includes all kinds of money.

"In a four-page letter to Spurlock in September, the chemical company was told, 'We are pleased to inform you that New York State has assembled an assistance package with a total value ranging up to $1,175,000.' And they were assured that 'if Spurlock requires additional permits or regulatory approvals related to the new manufacturing facility, New York is committed to assisting through an expedited permit review process. . .

"Do I read 'the fix is in' between the lines? Sure sounds that way. But, it gets worse.

"On Oct. 2, there was a big press conference down on River Road to announce Spurlock's intention to build in Bethlehem. Incredibly, sitting behind the podium was Dave Sterman, the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) deputy commission of Environmental Quality and Pollution Prevention. He even spoke, welcoming Spurlock and saying in effect that this is the kind of business the administration is trying to attract to New York.

"Sterman is the man who heads the DEC unit that would regulate the proposed plant, and has yet to pass on its operating permits. His presence at the press conference was totally inappropriate. . ."


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