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858 E. Ferry and Buffalo’s Water

more questions than answers



by Carolette Meadows

A couple of months ago I released a story with hyperlinks to government documents, concerning whether or not people were supposed to be residing at 858 E. Ferry in light of the land’s toxicity. Councilman Darius Pridgen responded by releasing a video in which he waved around a piece of paper while claiming to have the clearance to build. Later, he posted a legal document citing that based on a 2005 state document, he had the right to build. The only problem is, there was a 2008 document stating that he didn’t.

After the previous article that was released via The Buffalo Chronicle, the NYSDEC released another document dated for 2009 that, again, gives clearance for residency BUT also contains a map that indicates remaining toxic waste.

The investigation into this has been a daunting two year process during which, complaints have been filed with the EPA, DEC, and civil rights departments. I find it strange that the state not only didn’t deliver the 2009 document over the course of these years (I found it independently), but that they has also never released 2009 document containing the map, until now. There has also never been an official final decision on these complaints but are instead, sitting in limbo.

Just prior to the release of the original story and after contacting the DEC again, the EPA disabled its link to their 2010 decision that the land was not to be used without any explanation as to why.

Now that the 2009 DEC document has been made available it makes one wonder how True Development, in good conscience, could build knowing full well that there was a document in 2005 which said, “yes.” A 2008 document which said, “no.” A 2009 document which said, “yes” but also plots out excessive remaining toxic waste and a 2010 federal document which said, “no.”

With all of the discrepancies, how does one decide to roll the dice with human life?

How does one look at the map, which shows one of the two highest toxic levels located just at the fence between the property and the aqueduct?

How do you erect a chain link fence without informing your residents that their children should not be jumping the fence in order to take shortcuts to Grider because what they’re walking on can cause diseases that can kill them?

Why is it that the councilman is spending more time speaking about and lying on me in his video instead of addressing more important complaints like, why he hasn’t spoken up about jobs or discrimination in the school district but instead trots off to Baltimore and driving water to Flint?

Why hasn’t he answered the most important question of all – why did he lie by promising during a council session to have the land retested if he had no intention of fulfilling that promise?

In reference to the City of Buffalo’s water line, how many of you know that our pipes are made of lead too and that they flush phosphoric acid through them to act as an anti-corrosive? Did you know that when the water lines break, according to the Lead and Copper Act, your water is supposed to be monitored at the tap but the city NEVER enforces this? There have been four line breaks on a street where most of the kids have tested positive for lead. One had critical lead poisoning but every time residents asked about the water they were rebuffed, and no monitoring occurred. Let me also inform you that phosphoric acid is the very same chemical in colas that they tell you to limit your intake of because it de-mineralizes bone.

Now in light of Flint, the city is telling residents they can call 311 in order to obtain water test kits while simultaneously telling you that it’s not the water, it’s the paint. If everyone is so sure it’s not the water, why are they suddenly opening up the water testing when previously there was no widespread public knowledge that the city is required to submit lead water samples every three years? So the question is, “If most of the lead impacted areas didn’t know about the testing, whose water have they been submitting over the decades?”

Councilman Pridgen declared, in his personal video (instead of an official city response) that, “the whole city is toxic!” Well, albeit that’s true, does that mean companies like True Development can further expose residents to hazards without giving them full disclosure? Does that mean when areas like Hickory Woods, which was occupied by whites was impacted, programs were implemented to buy them out of their homes, relocate them, and give them life long medical BUT if you’re black and impacted, your elected representative basically says, “it doesn’t matter” and not only leaves you but approves a building project to move more people into a danger zone? If you live in a toxic environment, therefore it doesn’t matter what occurs, why was it necessary to personally drive a truckload of water to Flint? Is their city any less toxic than ours that they should be cared for more?

If the mayor and council even want to begin making things right, an immediate initiative should begin that issues every resident a water filter with replacement filters being supplied for free if you are on government assistance or subsidized if you are not and Pridgen should honor his promise to retest the land in order to settle the discrepancies.

At this point, in regards to E. Ferry, the questions surpass Pridgen. This is because there was conflicting data which basically allowed True Development and the city council to pick and choose which data to go with. Now our beef should be with the state and federal government! Why was there conflicting data? How does “cleaning” one spot to residential levels while everything around is a hot mess make it appropriate for people to live on?

Lastly, why does it seem that residents of this city feel they don’t have the right to demand their constitutional rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” The ability to live in an area and not be subjected to environmental racism should be a part of those rights. Your life should matter and you should feel that even if it’s too late (healthwise) for you, that it’s not too late for your children and future generations. Their health and lives should matter even if yours doesn’t. You don’t need permission from any person of politician to demand answers and fight for yourself.

Did you see the victims of Tonawanda Coke sitting back waiting for their town to make things right for them? How about Love Canal or Hickory Woods? Minorities in this city seem to be of the mindset that their voice doesn’t matter so why try, or that they don’t want to be seen as “aggressive or militant.” Guess what? It’s ok to be aggressive or militant when the option is to be submissive while people exploit you until your death. To do so is called, SLAVERY.

To see the the newly released document which contains a list of the toxins on the site as well as the map showing where all remaining toxins exist please go to the FB group: Victims of Ferry-Grider toxic waste exposure and select “files.” Please excuse the duplication because I have no idea what I’m doing in the course of trying to upload documents and emails to FB. If anyone can give me a hand, please contact me ASAP.

Meadows’ is a Community Activist. This is her first column for the bullet.

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1 Comment on "858 E. Ferry and Buffalo’s Water"

  1. George Winfield | March 22, 2016 at 2:20 am | Reply

    Thank you sister Meadows for your editorial I think it’s important for our community to stay informed about this issue.

    I wanted to respond to some of the rhetorical statements and questions you posed. You stated “minorities in this city seem to be of the mindset that their voice doesn’t matter so why try..” You are correct of course but we come by this mindset because our voice doesn’t matter. Buffalo has had for a while a black mayor, black council members, black school board members, black chief of police etc. What does the black community have to show for it? Nothing. Whenever something like this is voiced out loud the onus is always put on the community for “not being involved enough” when in fact our “representatives” are obviously irrelevant for whatever reason. Having black politicians in Buffalo has not translated into anything beneficial for us despite our having been “involved” enough to vote these people into their jobs which, supposedly, is to be our “voice”. I don’t personally fault these people because to me politics is merely a show anyway whether you are part of the minority or the majority. The people who really run things do what they want to do regardless of the “voice of the people”. The show is important for the psyche of the masses so they feel they are not being ruled over. President Carter recently pointed this out when he stated that the United States is an oligarchy not a democracy. Oligarchs are wealthy enough and wise enough to allow those whom they rule over to have “elections” to feel as if they are participating in a democracy when actually they aren’t. As for the minorities in Buffalo not wanting to be “seen as aggressive or militant” that is understandable because there is simply nothing good to come from being seen as aggressive or militant by the oligarchs. One thing an oligarch has no problem with doing is crushing dissent and the minority community is already crushed enough. Many people like to point to past where minorities protested or organized and got some things to change but I don’t think we really realize that most of what we think was going on wasn’t actually what we think it was. For instance, a perception about the Vietnam war is that the american people grew weary of the war and the protests of hippies and others eventually convinced the government to end the hostilities against the Vietnamese. This has been sold to us to cover the reality that the Vietnamese defeated the american army and chased us out of Vietnam, it’s true that americans protested also but the war wasn’t ended because of protests. The civil rights story is the same it’s true that we did protest in the past but protests aren’t really what brought about the changes we think about, it was mostly just determined by the oligarchy to be better business to end some of the cruder forms of racism and segregation so they did.

    When you stated “did you see the victims of Tonawanda Coke sitting back waiting for their town to make things right for them? How about Love Canal? or Hickory Woods?” I understand what you meant but, like many people, those examples are not necessarily the victories or even semi-victories you think they are. For example I encourage you to read “Dumped On: The Messy Truth About Love Canal, NY” by Malcolm Logan and “Love Canal the truth seeps out” by Eric Zeusse (both are online articles) one thing that people don’t know about Love Canal that these articles talk about is how the elected community leaders actually forced Hooker Chemical to sell/give them the land on which they then built homes and a school DESPITE the companies repeated warnings NOT to do so because the land was unsuited for that use. Of course in the media Hooker Chemical was cast as the villain but it is documented that it was actually not the company that was at fault for what happened there although they were held to be liable anyway. Many people also don’t realize that in the 80s they actually put up a new residential community near Love Canal called Black Creek Village despite concerns that the problems of Love Canal are still not resolved to this day! Hickory Woods is pretty much the same thing. People think that there was some kind of settlement and there was, sort of. What is boiled down to is that the people who wanted to leave were given $12,500 and that was it. Mayor Brown, Brian Higgins, Mike Schroeder and Tim Kennedy also secured $625,000 for new sidewalks and street curbs. That was it. Oh yeah, you know how Solar City is the new big thing? Guess where it’s located. Yeah, adjacent to Hickory Woods. Tonawanda Coke is locked up in court mostly. So, unfortunately even when you ain’t in the minority your voice ain’t worth much. Just the way it is.

    “With all the discrepancies, how does one decide to roll the dice with human life?”

    Indeed, dear sister, indeed! I’m afraid I can’t answer that one because I ain’t one of the bosses. Unfortunately as you have reported bosses, like President Pastor Pridgen, don’t answer questions like that because who gonna make a boss do that?

    Stay strong Sister Meadows! Keep the faith!

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