Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pensacola: "Don't Go Near the Water"

Judging from their published comments, local utility and tourist-promotion big-wigs might have some pretty snappy suggestions for promoting Pensacola as a safe place to live and visit. Just don't go near the drinking water:
  • Dale Perkins, veteran ECUA director: 'Yes, we have no enviro-liberal wacko safe water.'
  • Lois Benson, ECUA board member and former state senator: 'Safe water is our second priority.'
  • Stephen Sorrell, ECUA Executive Director: 'We have a legal defense to our bad water. Move here and learn the details.'
  • Laura Lee, Chamber of Commerce spokes-woman: 'It ain't our fault.'
  • Shawn Hamilton, Tallahassee's EPA outcast to Pensacola: 'We serve minimally legal water!'
In all fairness, Lois Benson at least is willing "to take this information and see how it can make us a better utility." And, everybody knows Dale Perkins is a genial idiot; for years people have voted for him mainly because (1) he rarely has opposition on the ballot; and (2) we want to keep him from clogging the unemployment lines.

What going on here? Our most charitable guess is selective amnesia, brought on by public officials drinking the Kool-Aid made from local tap water.
  • In 1998, a local grand jury "issued a report finding 'widespread' groundwater contamination in the county, and blaming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and local authorities for failing to prevent or clean up the pollution."
  • In 1999, EPA release its annual Toxic Release Inventory showing Escambia County had 23 industries that released over 52 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the local environment in one year -- qualifying Escambia County as the eighteenth worst-polluted county in the entire nation.
  • In 2000, James Studnicki and Partnership for a Healthy Community released data showing that all cancer rates as well as new-born infant death rates are higher in Escambia County [pay for download] than in any other Florida county and the state as a whole. The death rate here is nearly twenty percent higher than the state average.
ECUA hasn't made matters better with its official statement in response to the latest news. Says the utility, "Our water is absolutely safe and meets every water quality standard from the environmental agencies. If the standards change, we will also meet the new requirements."

That's infuriating. What ECUA is saying, in effect, is that it can do better. It just doesn't want to. And, as long as the water quality is "legal" it won't do a damn thing.

No comments: