May 7, 2008

Environmental Reality

Listening to the local radio station for the 7:30 news yesterday morning, they were talking about the new pot hole machines that the city of Niagara Falls will be renting to fix the massive pot hole problem plaguing the city. This will bring much needed relief to drivers and vehicles in the city. Although I live in Lockport, I was in Niagara Falls for a jaunt to the casino this past weekend. I can attest to the fact that there is a serious need for road repairs, not only in Niagara Falls, but in much of Western New York.

During the news, the radio station interviewed Lou Ricciuti, also known as "Nuclear Lou". Now, I don't know Lou, but I know he is well known in the community for his environmental advocacy. Ricciuti has previously raised concerns about radioactive contamination in the Niagara area and has created the Institute for Environmental Research and Oversight.

Ricciuti went on to say that filling the pot holes would be a bad idea because doing so would allow contaminates in the road to become airborne and be hazardous to the well-being of people in the community. Okay, I'll buy that. Knowing virtually nothing about environmental issues such as this one, it certainly sounds possible.

Here's where things get a little cloudy. When someone points out a problem, I expect a tangible, feasible solution to be presented. Unfortunately, this is where Lou lost me. His solution to the pot hole problem is not to patch them, but to take an alternate route. His rationale is that it's better to have some temporary damage to your car's suspension than to have permanent damage to your respiratory system due to the contaminates that you'd be breathing from the dust that would be stirred up by the pot hole machines.

Fundamentally, of course I'd rather have a minor alignment problem than a black lung, but it's a flawed solution. Cities need to fill pot holes. Cities need to maintain their infrastructure. To slough off a major infrastructure problem by simply suggesting people take another route is not a tangible solution. If there is an environmental concern, address it with a realistic solution, not "avoid the area". The solution of simply taking another route is simply ridiculous and unrealistic.

Unfortunately, this is where many environmentalists lose their credibility. It's easy to say that there are issues that need to be addressed, it's hard to come up with real solutions.

By the way, there are billions of gallons of oil reserves in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and a shale formation stretching North Dakota and Montana may have an estimated 3 to 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to a U.S. Geological Survey assessment. Of course, we can't tap them because we may disturb the mating habits of the Common Tern.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

What I find amusing is the lack of any real insight by a lot of these "community activists." Avoiding Main Street is one of the 2 or 3 dumbest things I have ever heard. We are envious of Niagara Falls, Canada because their streets are filled with tourists spending money and the area is vibrant and active. But Nuclear Lou's plan would include re-routing traffic AROUND Main Street in the Falls on our side of the River so that nobody can eat at Burger King or disturb the patrons of the only other business on Main, an adult book store.

Anonymous said...

Hello All: I am Lou Ricciuti and was alerted to this post by GOOGLE. It does this for me automatically. I apologize in advance for posting "anonymously" but I simply don't have the time to register for an account--besides, I'm not really anonymous by starting with my name.

Anyway, I'd like to address the initial comment made here by Hobbes (hello Hobbes, nice to meet you). There, that's done now.

I appreciate the fact that you are offering a place to make these comments but I have visited a couple of times and have found there to be an aweful lot of negativity and "bashing." But that's another subject.

I also appreciate being called a "community activist" as this is the highest compliment that could be paid me. I do find a bit of concern with being taken out of context or not assessing what was said yesterday more fully. Let me explain.

The short analogy that I used about deciding between long-term health concerns and the possibility of loosing a shock absorber, or, for that matter, taking alternative routes until this problem can be appropriately resolved (blowing nuclear materials around with the Pothole Killer is not the answer), was just that, an analogy.

I was once involved in the tourism industry of Niagara County and felt that I made many contributions. When I discovered our nuclear past, I felt an obligation to pursue this. I, in all good intention, could not stand by and watch my fellow citizens get sick, young people pass away, nor could I invite visitors (I don't use the word "tourist") to MY kitchen, when it was dirty.

I never said that things should come to a standstill in this community but rather offered a prudent discussion on one of our most serious issues, that is: the contamination of our county by past nuclear industries and the military industrial complex in our pursuit of the atomic weapons and reactors the U.S. now employs. We gave a lot here around Niagara County to win WWII and to create an industry that did not exist before.

The issues revolving around more than 100 spots of roadway contamination by these legacy materials is not something to take lightly. Especially, in a communiyt that has some of the highest disease rates in the nation.

It's just unfortunate that with all of these woes that are around us, the only answer to "potholes" is to blow them out and into the environment where they can be ingested and breathed in--by your children and or mine.

There certainly are other answers to this situation rather than making some decision for the economy today, that will likely have an impact on the economy tommorrow--likely, an increase to the Erie County economy by way of increased visits to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

All of my comments were and are based on the federal government's own radiation reports about Niagara Falls, NY, city streets.

If it's too difficult to make these difficult decisions by our elected leaders, and they choose the short-cut of an "easy fix," please don't take my comments the wrong way or belittle the messenger. After all, I'm trying to look out for all of us in all of this. If anyone had realized that what you heard was a news clip--an abbreviated version of the comments and work I've done for over more than 10 years now, then certainly it can be understood that this was just a passing comment about "detours" and not meant to undermine anyone's business.

I never mentioned "Main Street" and as I recall the news interview, I specifically referred to Buffalo Ave. and the industrial area there.

God forbid that I should stop anyone from grabbing a hamburger at their favorite Main St. burger joint. Make sure that you first blow off the raod dust though.

Cheers to all and have a great day.

Lou R.

Pete M said...

Lou, thanks for your comments. I think you make legitimate points about health concerns. Do you have any supporting documentation stating that the areas you describe are in fact contaminated and, just as important, do you have any documentation that filling these pot holes would be detrimental to the health of those exposed to the possible contaminants?

Lancer said...

Lou, don't take this as criticism, but you still haven't offered a solution, which is what I believe the point of the post was. Okay, so avoiding the area was an analogy. How do we address the problem?

My other thought is that if the focus of the contamination is the uninhabited sections of Buffalo Ave, who is going to be exposed to some possibly toxic dust that may be in the air for a minute or two?

Anonymous said...

How much toxic dust was from the burn pitt.

Anonymous said...

Hello again, Lou here.
Let me try and answer these in this fashion:

Pete M said...

Lou, thanks for your comments. I think you make legitimate points about health concerns. Do you have any supporting documentation stating that the areas you describe are in fact contaminated and, just as important, do you have any documentation that filling these pot holes would be detrimental to the health of those exposed to the possible contaminants?

Wednesday, 07 May, 2008

****
Thanks Pete M. for your comments. The supporting documentation is from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, located at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. These documents are available through Internet searches with the words: Niagara, Oak Ridge, Niagara Falls Aerial Radiological Survey etc. I can post links at some point but for now, I would encourage anyone to search these or the many articles available in the N.Gazette or the Buffalo News. The documentation about detrimental health is not really associated with "filling" the pot holes but in how they have been proposed to be treated with the Pothole Killer trucks. From the demonstration video I have seen--the potholes are blown out with compressed air and then sprayed with tar-like asphalt for sealing. Then they are filled with some sort of crushed stone and a topper or binder is added. This would present no problem on any other kind of macadam/tarmac street paving but NOT with holes already filled with nuclear materials. you don't want to disturb or make these materials airborne! Other methods are available and recommended for proper cleanup and disposal. I know, I know: More costly and not an immediate fix for anyone's automobile suspension. I can give a more thorough answer this evening as time permits.

****
Lancer said...

Lou, don't take this as criticism, but you still haven't offered a solution, which is what I believe the point of the post was. Okay, so avoiding the area was an analogy. How do we address the problem?

My other thought is that if the focus of the contamination is the uninhabited sections of Buffalo Ave, who is going to be exposed to some possibly toxic dust that may be in the air for a minute or two?

Wednesday, 07 May, 2008

****
Thanks Lancer for your comments. I don't take anything as a criticism unless it gets personal. These things are merely science and not my opinion...so, no problem. Actually Lancer, in one of the interviews I did yesterday (when allowed enough time), I stated that these holes should be vacuumed out instead of blown out. The materials should be collected for proper disposal after analysis, and then filled. I try to always offer solutions to problems. Otherwise, I'd just be crying in my beer. The problem with suspending these particals for ANY amount of time is that they can be breathed in or swallowed with saliva = stomach or lung problems. Plus, these are things that you really, really don't want to get inside your body. Because it has NOT been determined exactly what these materials contain, it could be like swallowing waste from weapons or nuclear reactors. Some of these road-bedding sites are "hotter" with radiation than others. "Uninhabited" is why nuclear tests were done (also ill advised) in the desert and not around human beings. Think--fallout. Uninhabited would also mean that NO ONE would drive down these streets or live downwind. Unfortunately, that's not the case here. Every time the wind blows, these materials will forever get re-suspended and for whatever direction the wind does blow, N, S, E, W. Some of the materials being talked about last for thousands of years.
****

Anonymous said...

How much toxic dust was from the burn pitt.

Wednesday, 07 May, 2008
****
Thanks Anonymous for your input and comment. I would have no idea what kind of contaminants come from a "burn pitt."(?)
My area of interest is nuclear materials around the Niagara Frontier from past military-industrial activities. Sorry. Can't help on that one.

Frank DeGeorge said...

Lou,

Your knowledge and courtesy in responding to posters is admirable. My question revolves around Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. Mr. Dyster has earned quite a reputation for being a friend of the environment. That being the case, wouldn't you think the mayor would heed your concerns and put a stop to this.

Anonymous said...

Lou here again:

Good morning Frank and all.
Frank DeGeorge said...

Lou,

Your knowledge and courtesy in responding to posters is admirable. My question revolves around Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. Mr. Dyster has earned quite a reputation for being a friend of the environment. That being the case, wouldn't you think the mayor would heed your concerns and put a stop to this.

Wednesday, 07 May, 2008
****

Frank: I'm humbled by your comment and thank you for it. Nothing really "admirable" as I'm just doing what anyone would do armed with the same info.

I can't answer exactly why Paul Dyster isn't addressing this appropriately. I know that he tries to put on the environmental face in most instances.

(There, as cordial and gentle as I can be...)

What I do know is that he's been aware of the situation since 2001 and hasn't chosen to act in the responsible manner that would've been expected from him. Perhaps he's afraid of "bad PR."

I also know that Mrs. Clinton, George Maziarz, Francine DelMonte, Louise Slaughter, Charles Schumer (and others) are all very aware and have done little to help the real underlying issues at hand. That's fact.

I'd like to be generous with them all and cut them a break but really I can't.

Here's a couple of links to the government surveys that I've looked at:

ORIGINAL GOV. Aerial and ground survey: rates, locations:
1986 ORNL document about 100 anomalies of radioactive materials within city streets and spread to public/private properties.

www.ornl.gov/info/reports/1986/3445601478227.pdf
---
www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=7193851
---
The earlier version of this fly-over survey is not found at OSTI (1985 EG & G Report--was previously held by the Buffalo District offices of the US Army Corps of Engineers, removed from their Web site URL in 2006.)

More later on "solutions."

Cheers, thanks again and have a great day.
Lou Ricciuti

rob clark said...

Lou...Your a breathe of fresh air on this site. It was starting to get to a point that it didn’t matter what the topic was, it would just turn into a fight. (I’m guilty of it too)

You come armed with lots of knowledge on this subject. Having spoken with you before I have to say I for one am scared. We should know what’s "IN THE DIRT". My question is where were our elected officials when all this was going on? And I would hope that our State and Federal Represenitives would be friendlier to this subject

Frank DeGeorge said...

Thank you for the information Lou. I guess the unfortunate reality of politics rears it's ugly head again, namely decisions are made with the short term in mind (in this case filling potholes) rather than long-term consequences (public health.) I wonder if there would be any way to get the County Health Department invovled.

They have gotten involed in issues like the burnpit and tatoo parlors...this one seems far more imporant.

DS said...

If anything, just look at the way the machine works. I cannot believe that a sprayed patch works better than actually filling the hole properly, and then rolling over it in the traditional manner. I'm sick of highway departments expecting my car to take the place of a steamroller.

mike said...

why don't we ask the nuclear lou to provide some facts to support his

HOAX...
published in the NFG gazette over 4 years ago , you know the HOAX lou ,
then one about your UN documented and long since DIS proved claim that there was / IS Plutonium in the drinking water of Niagara County .

anyone one listening to the nuclear lou would be wise to ask him for [b]credible[/b] documentation of his blarney prior attaching any importance to it

see his thread in the ARTvoice ...regarding the sphere , as another example.

thank me very much
spank ewe lou

i am mike .
mike of the mountain to ewe lou .