To the editor: We are having the wrong conversation.
There is nothing right, just or appropriate about the situation the town of Lee is in. It’s unfair that Lee is the host for this proposed PCB dump, but even with all the speculation that the dump will ruin the town, there is evidence to the contrary. Our town has been the host of a PCB dump site for decades and is still a town that is thriving and a place I’m proud to live. The question now is how do we stop the dump, if possible, and I haven’t come up with a plan. Some have said that the Select Board should vote to rescind the agreement. I don’t believe that is the best way forward and here is my rationale.
First, Lee rescinding the deal will not put the breaks on the river cleanup. Anything the federal government does supersedes the decisions we make here in town. The EPA has issued a permit, and it has been upheld by the appeals board. Lee alone cannot put a stop to the cleanup process.
Furthermore, if we were to sever ties, we would lose a seat on the Rest of River Committee, have no oversight or monitoring, not to mention the monetary impact which the taxpayers of Lee would be responsible for. The Rest of River Committee has spent more than $500,000 and 8-plus years thus far.
What would be our argument? We would have to prove in court this agreement is illegal. Unfortunately, the arguments that have been made already, although made with valiant effort and great care, have been defeated through the appeals process.
Finally, we should consider remediation. One commitment the EPA has made is to continue the research and development of remediation technologies. I say Lee should lead on this and use the majority of our funds given to us by GE as part of this agreement for that purpose.
I do not want a PCB dump in our town. But it is so much more complicated than that. The chances of having a positive outcome from a legal endeavor on our own are slim with no chance to get back into the agreement. Years of battling in court lie ahead, meanwhile GE will be dredging the river and building the landfill. That’s the conversation we need to be having.
Sean Regnier, Lee
The writer is a member of the Lee Select Board.