Health big price to pay for growth

To the editor:

The Oglebay Resort hosts the Appalachian Basin Real Estate Conference next week. The conference will be presented by Bryce Custer, broker of NAI Ohio River Corridor, and produced by Shale Directories. It will “identify land development opportunities as a result of the downstream natural gas development” in the Tri-State Area.

The list of “who should attend” includes everyone who will stand to profit from selling the region’s resources to create the next petrochemical hub of the USA. This includes politicians, bankers, petrochemical companies and industrial housing real estate agents. With ticket prices starting at $500, it is a given small-business owners and local entrepreneurs will not be attending.

There are many important things that probably will not be discussed at the conference, including the fact that Louisiana’s petrochemical corridor, Cancer Alley, has a cancer rate 50 times the national average.

Since the 1950s, more than 9 billion tons of plastics have been produced. More than 400 million tons are produced annually.

More than 40 percent of this plastic is single use. Only 9 percent of plastic is recycled in the United States.

Plastics do not biodegrade; they only fragment into smaller pieces called microplastics. Studies show Lake Erie had higher concentrations of microplastics than any other body of water on Earth.

There have been no baseline studies of current microplastic levels in the Ohio River. Microplastics have been found in salt, beer, bottled water, fish, birds, wildlife and human feces. Plastics can carry toxic organic compounds, as well as carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting phthalates into the food chain and into our bodies.

The entire lifecycle of plastics and petrochemicals will add enormous amounts of volatile organic air pollutants and particulate matter to the valley’s air, a valley prone to temperature inversions.

Even the plastics industry’s own report, “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics,” cites the “degradation of natural systems as a result of plastic pollution, greenhouse gas emissions from production, and health and environmental impacts as significant negative externalities.”

The attendees of the conference will try to ignore the negative impacts of these industries, but ultimately, if they continue with their toxic plan for our valley, the residents of the region will be paying the costs with their health.

Randi Pokladnik



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