To the editor of THE EAGLE:

After attending the EPA-sponsored "Rest of River" community outreach meeting at Lenox High School on
June 18, I offer these observations and opinions.

First off, the claims of Barbara Cianfarini, leader of Citizens for PCB Removal that "It is not as bad as you think it will be ... it is doable, livable, and if you bring your concerns to the people in charge, they do listen, and they do try and address them" seem naive and a classic example of rosy scenario. It is my opinion that the main objective of Citizens and the other "grassroots" organizations pushing this initiative is to extract their pound of flesh from General Electric and they care not a whit about the possibility of very destructive unintended consequences.

After hearing the EPA representatives’ presentations I have not a shred of confidence they can shepherd this thing through without it becoming a major and colossal botch. And that’s especially true if GE gets dragged into doing more than it wants to. It will come in here like the proverbial bull in
a china shop and if it winds
up breaking all or most of
the "china" -- the company
doesn’t care. GE doesn’t live here.

And just try and stop or modify the cleanup once GE has started. The EPA representatives at the June 18 meeting may be powerless to help. GE will tell the EPA and everyone else who tries to rein it in "Guys, you rattled our cage and now it gets done our way." GE’s statement that if we make it do a large-scale cleanup we will be "destroying the river in order to save it" I believe is absolutely true.

But folks, we are fighting the wrong battle against the wrong enemy. We’ve been kicking this Rest of River program around for five years at least. Time, events, and history have passed this by. Cleaning up the river is no longer the most important thing we’re facing. The really big threat to Berkshire County, at least the central part, is from Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas. If state and federal agencies roll over for them they are going to do a major rape job across the county. They will, without a shred of remorse, destroy some of our most precious assets. They don’t live here and those state and federal officials who stand to let them in on whatever right of way KM chooses don’t live here either.

The river isn’t going anywhere and the damage done to it will not significantly increase. Let it heal itself and if it takes 2,000 years, so be it. No one at the June meeting is ever going to live long enough to see the cleanup finish. But if Kinder Morgan gets its way -- talk about a bull in a china shop.

Finally, to those of us
troubled by the population loss/out-migration the county has been experiencing in the last several decades I have this message. If either, or worse yet both, of these projects are implemented, that rate of population loss will most likely increase and our attractiveness to tourism will most likely decrease significantly.

MARK SHAPP

Lenox