The Paducah Water Letter

June 16, 2014

by Crane-Station


Last week, we received a letter titled, “Paducah Water: Important Information About Your Drinking Water, Total Trihalomethanenes (TTHM) Violation.” The letter says:

Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this incident was not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we did to correct this situation.

Trihalomethanenes, according to the letter are “four volatile organic chemicals which form when disinfectants react with natural organic matter in the water.”

My husband and I don’t drink alcohol, soda, juices, flavored drinks, or mixed powdered things. Just good, clean tap water, occasional tea and morning coffee. We thought. We never knew, that like alcohol, tap water has a 0.080 limit, and legally, according to the letter we just received, at 0.081 mg/L, our tap drinking water was at least for a time, contaminated.

But, according to the letter, 0.081 is “not an emergency.” So, what is an emergency? Could it possibly be the water that I’m 53 and look 80, that our teeth are going bad at an alarming rate, that we seem to be going blind, and every night, Fred ‘does’ his eyes? Without going into the gory details, his eye routine does not involve makeup, but it does involve me saying to him, “Oh, are you going to do your eyes now?” That’s how routine it has become, just like the box we have, labeled, “teeth,” that also has the ineffective mouth guard a dentist once suggested. But perhaps these are the normal routines of individuals who live with non-emergency environmental pollution.

We simply assumed that our area was afflicted with uranium hexaflurouride (UF6)-related toxins. We reasoned that USEC, the Gaseous Diffusion Uranium Enrichment Plant that closed a year ago that no one is allowed to speak about in Paducah lest you get shot in the face or arrested was still sneak-enriching uranium, or else Honeywell, across the river dropped some uranium accidentally during conversion- something like that.

We learned that when the West Virginia chemical spill happened that there really are hundreds of chemicals, toxins, and pollutants, and that the Ohio River, for example, could be more aptly named The River of Blood. Given the list of horrendous possibilities raising visions of the atomic era that earned Paducah the name “Atomic City,” we never once considered the simple possibility of a toxin hidden in plain sight in our drinking water. Therefore, I shall help out, with the Paducah Water Letter as follows:

What should I do?

There is nothing you need to do. You do not need to boil your water or take other corrective actions. Spit your remaining teeth out where no one is likely to step on them because sores never heal, especially on the feet. If a situation arises where the water is no longer safe to drink, notify an undertaker. You will be dead in 24 hours.

Believe it or not, the letter actually says this, word-for-word:

If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.

You can’t make this up.

Next sentence, no fingers crossed: “This is not an emergency.”

What does this mean?

This is not an emergency, unless you’re alive. If you are, there is nothing you can do about it anyway, except inform your neighbors. But it’s too late for that because everyone is a dead person walking. We waited six months to tell you these things in a letter so that anyone inclined to hire the likes of a functional lawyer from Tennessee and sue in Federal court, where, let’s face it, you’ll die while we out-wait you anyway, the six-month cushion will curtail those urges you may have to tie up our rigged dockets, while you spit your teeth out, onto the sidewalk.

Joking aside, there is a specific request in italics to share the letter, by putting it in a “public place,” so I have scanned it. The water company explains that it has flushed lines, changed disinfectant levels/types and performed additional tests. The company states that the tests have determined that its efforts have proven to be effective. Three times in the one-page letter, we are told, that this is not an emergency. It is also notable, given the likelihood that women may have conceived in the months since this information became known in January, that the letter did not become public until the end of May; indeed, it is impossible to notify one’s physician as the letter itself advises, if one is unaware of the problem.

There is a State Water System ID Number KY0730533.

Did you know that there are many unregulated contaminants in our drinking water, and that reports of issues continue in West Virginia?

note- This post is satire. Unrelated, as always, please have a look at the Decorah Eagles!

Environmental Personhood

October 23, 2011

Laguna de Cuicocha, Imbabura, Ecuador
Laguna de Cuicocha, Imbabura, Ecuador
By sara y tzunky on Flickr under noncommercial use Creative Commons

Author’s note: I inadvertently left this chapter and a few others out of Namaste: If Not Now, When? and have decided to include them. The previous chapters in the book can be accessed here in my diaries or at my blog.

Ecuador is a democratic republic situated on the west coast of South America. Small and wedge-shaped, it straddles the equator bordering Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. Ecuador also owns the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean 620 miles west of Guayaquil, the nation’s largest coastal city and port. The Andes mountain range traverses the middle of the country from north to south separating it into three distinct regions: coastal plain, highlands, and Amazonian jungle.

Quito, the capitol, is in the highlands at an altitude of 10,000 feet and even though it is less than ten kilometers south of the equator, the weather year round is mild with daytime temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s and low 50s.

I lived in Quito when I was in 6th and 7th grade; my father was a Foreign Service Officer employed by the United States Department of State. I remember Quito very well. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I hope to return there someday.

In September 2008, the citizens of Ecuador went to the polls and rocked the world approving a new constitution, the first in world history to recognize that Pachamama, or Nature is not a thing to own and exploit at will. The Constitution recognizes that she has the inalienable right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate her vital cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes. The Constitution provides,

Rights for Nature

Article 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.

Article 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems.

In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation of non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences.

Article 3. The State will motivate natural and judicial persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.

Article 4. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.

The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited.

Article 5. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow wellbeing.

Ecuador’s new constitution also created an independent federal human-rights ombudsperson who can only be removed by the legislature for cause — not for political reasons. The position is called the Public Defender, a person who serves a five-year term that may be renewed once and, although the office has no prosecutorial powers, the constitution grants it the power to investigate and expose all human-rights crimes, whether committed by the government or by others.

Native and maternal traditions have long recognized that the Earth is our mother. The ancient Greeks did too and they named her spirit Gaia, goddess of the primordial Earth. In the 1960s while he was employed by NASA and working on methods to detect life on Mars, James Lovelock developed the Gaia hypothesis, which proposes that living and non-living parts of the earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.

Gaia is the fabled Garden of Eden and in the spirit of Ubuntu, we are diminished whenever one of us diminishes her.

Not long after Ecuador officially granted Gaia environmental personhood, the RATS on the United States Supreme Court (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, plus Kennedy the swing man) legitimized raping Gaia for profit and killed our democracy in the Citizens United case when they held that corporations are persons with First Amendment rights to buy elections.

Two decisions, one in Ecuador and one in the United States illustrate two societies headed in opposite directions. We must find a way to reverse course. Our survival and Gaia’s survival depend on it.

The banksters and their neoliberal criminal class will reduce our Garden of Eden to a lifeless cinder circling the Sun, if we fail.

Photograph of the Tree That Owns Itself taken by Bloodofox of the Wikipedia Research Project in 2005 and posted in the Wikipedia Commons, released without restriction. Special thanks to thatvisionthing (see comment below) for providing a link to the story about the tree in Wikipedia.

Cross Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

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