To the editor: I was very disappointed to read The Berkshire Eagle editorial regarding the Rest of the River settlement. ("Our Opinion: Some critical questions for anti-Rest of River sentiment in Lee," Eagle, July 23.)
I would like to provide a bit of context.
After several years of negotiations, the Environmental Protection announced in 2015 their "intended final decision" that General Electric would remove the PCBs from the Housatonic River and transport it all to a toxic waste disposal facility near Detroit, Mich. But GE delayed any action, hoping the 2016 election would blow the political wind in their favor. Almost immediately after taking office, Donald Trump announced that the EPA would review any projects costing more than $50 million. Within a few months, without any change of facts or conditions, the EPA completely reversed their original decision and sided with GE.
Now GE will be allowed to store the "safe levels" of PCBs next the very river they are dredging — in some places within 20 feet. The "handful of abutters" that you dismiss so easily consists of residents of Lenox, Lenox Dale, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Sheffield and all the towns down the river to the Hudson Bay. They predict that 10,000 trucks per year will travel to the toxic dump. That is 38 trucks every weekday directly through Lee for 13 to 15 years. This toxic dump will not be out in the country safely away from humans. It will be in the very heart of Lenox Dale and Lee.
General Electric made $74.196 billion in 2021. The cost to GE to clean and transport the PCBs from the Housatonic River would cost about $600 million. That is a whopping 0.03 percent of GE's annual revenue.
I strongly urge the editors to reconsider their stance on this issue.
Nancy Stuart, Lee
This letter was updated to correct the dollar amount of environmental cleanup costs that triggered an EPA review under the Trump administration.