Planet Waves | PCB Photo Tour of SUNY New Paltz, conclusion


Sunset at SUNY New Paltz, Jan., 24, 1992. Photo by Eric.

When an environmental disaster occurs it is like being caught in the middle of a silent war against an invisible enemy. Most people do not want to believe there is a problem. On one level the enemy is a toxin so powerful it's measured in parts-per-trillion. On another level, it is denial.

If the national media were to speak up and raise the voice of conscience, they would likely jeoparzie their own credibility by going against a level of public opinion that is merely a state of denial. For the most part, all environmental stories are treated as local in nature, and the larger connections are rarely made. We think of New Paltz as a local incident, but it is nothing of the kind.

A full decade after the explosions, official New York State policy and public relations posturing allow 990 students still live in Bliss, Capen, Gage and Scudder dormotories. New Paltz, New York is anywhere and everywhere. A quarter cenbtury after PCB transformers were allegedly banned by the EPA, many remain in buildings around the world, and PCBs and dioxins remain among the most pressing three environmental problems the world faces today, with the other two being nuclear waste and biotechnology.

All human beings and animals carry a "body burden" of PCBs and dioxins which increases daily. We must come to terms with the fact that we live in a contaminated world, and yet not let that render us paralyzed to take action. The problem can always be worse, and how we of our generation react to what we learn will set the course for our own children, and for many generations to come.++

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