Monday, June 11, 2012

Dear Balsz School District Governing Board: Just say "no" to TCE

Oh, the joys of living in and going to school in a "less than affluent" (aka - "poor") part of town...

From the Arizona Republic, written by Emily Gersema -

For $20,000 a year, an east Phoenix elementary school could be in the pathway of a new pipeline that would carry treated wastewater from a Superfund site.

Freescale Semiconductor would pay rent to the Balsz Elementary School District to bury the pipeline in the district's easement at Brunson-Lee Elementary, which has an estimated 450 children in kindergarten through sixth grade and is near 48th Street and McDowell Road, less than 2 miles west of the company's plant.


Freescale has been discharging the treated water into Phoenix's sewer lines. State environmental maps show the plume of contaminated groundwater stretches nearly 7 miles from the plant, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality documents have raised questions about the efficacy of the Freescale water-treatment facility.

However, ADEQ in December approved the the Freescale pipeline route through the school property and has encouraged the five-member governing board at Balsz to approve it.

"If I lived here, I would not have any concerns," said Wendy Flood, an ADEQ official.


The governing board is expected to vote on the pipeline at its 6:30 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at the district office, 4825 E. Roosevelt St.

I don't know if any members of the Balsz Elementary School District Governing Board read this blog, but if they don't (and if they don't, they should.  The people running AZ's schools should be better read :)) ), I hope someone who does read this blog forwards this to them -

1.  The proposed pipeline will contain TCE, or trichloroethylene, a known carcinogen.

2.  Children are the group most vulnerable to the effects of TCE.

3.  While I have no reason to believe that the spokewoman for ADEQ who was quoted in the article is anything but a decent human being, ADEQ as a whole does *not* exist to protect Arizona's children.  It exists to protect business interests from having to do more than the bare minimum to clean up any messes they make in the environment.

4.  Among many responsibilities, and perhaps the culmination of those responsibilities, school boards exist to protect the long-term interests of the students in their districts.

5.  Running a pipeline full of poison underneath a school may be in the best financial interests of the company responsible for cleaning the mess in the groundwater in east Phoenix (meaning it's cheaper than bringing their TCE remediation facility up to par), it's not in the best long-term interests of the district or its students.  The first time the pipeline leaks (and rest assured, it *will* leak), the Board (and the parents, and the students) will find that the $20K/year "rent" won't even begin to cover the associated legal, medical, and environmental clean-up costs.

The best interests of the students, faculty, staff, parents, and residents of the Balsz District would be best served by the governing simply saying "no" to Freescale and ADEQ.

Note: the board's agenda for Tuesday's meeting is here.

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