Sunday, January 7, 2007

Kellogg Conflict

In the comments section of Huckleberries Online a conflict flared up that involved Kellogg. It's an old conflict and I doubt it will ever be settled. On the one hand, Kellogg is a contaminated town. The years of mining and smelting didn't end when the Bunker Hill mine and the Lead Smelter and the Zinc Plant closed. The toxic particulates that fell to the ground and the waste that befouled the river and the toxins that invaded houses and other physical structures remain.

To my way of thinking, this contamination has no precedent. The EPA has been working for a little more than twenty years to clean up Kellogg and Smelterville and other areas. It's a laudable effort. I just don't know how they know what they are doing. The kind of industrial project that dominated Kellogg for about eighty years was an entirely modern phenomenon. The clean up effort is an experiment, as far as I'm concerned. I hope the experiment succeeds, in the long run, but that won't be known until decades pass and the reclamation efforts' effectiveness can be evaluated.

So, on the one side of the conflict are those who don't see the EPA's efforts as sufficient and who cite studies demonstrating that Kellogg is not clean.

On the other side of the conflict are those who see the recovering environment, the cleaner Cd'A River, the trees greening Kellogg's hillsides, the gardens thriving in yards, the clean air, and are proud of the progress Kellogg has made toward becoming a place of beauty.

Many (not all) on this second side of the conflict hate the stigma they feel Kellogg suffers because it is a Superfund Cleanup site. Many (not all) of those on this side of the conflict would like to see the EPA pack up and leave the Valley alone. In particular, those outside the cleanup box do not want to see the circumference of the box extended because they don't want to see their communities suffer the stigma of being a part of a Superfund Cleanup.

I'm going to write more in future blogs about where I find myself in this conflict. It won't be easy because I have a complex response to all of this, and I'm not entirely committed to one side or the other.

What's not unclear and not very complex in my heart, however, is that I love Kellogg. I want what's best for Kellogg and that is often difficult for me to sort out as I read comments on HBO, listen to friends' discussions when I'm home, and as I read stories and testimony from Kellogg residents who feel strongly about one side of the conflict or the other.

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