Emotion is on the side of homeowners who claim they are sick from fumes emanating from sludge dredged from the bottom of superfund site Onondaga Lake. They are families who feel they have to stay inside with windows closed just to stay healthy while the lengthy cleanup continues. Some are new residents, others have lived in or near Golden Meadows for generations.
Having emotion and symptoms on your side is not enough when your case is up against a law passed by congress to keep thoroughly vetted environmental clean up plans from being halted through legal action. The law passed some 30 years ago under Superfund legislation makes sense, unless you're the one concerned about the health of your children and the value of your property.
Dora Scheidell reported on the Federal Court case dismissed today. Federal Judge Fred Scullin ruled in favor of the Honeywell corporation as he considered the brief that questioned the court's jurisdiction based on the Superfund legislation's prohibition of legal action that interrupts a clean up.
Surely the judge, the attorneys for Honeywell and anyone watching the reaction of the homeowners must feel empathy for their position. Tears rolled down the cheeks of articulate, well informed mothers who have reached a point of desperation in trying to protect their families. They learned today the law in this case is not on their side. A deeper review of the Federal court record also details the lengthy history of public participation in the decision making process on the best way to clean up the lake bottom while also balancing the extraordinary cost involved.
Some of the homeowners in Golden Meadows have lived there for a year, others less than five. These decisions about method of cleanup were all made before they moved to the neighborhood that now seems most afffected by the residual side effects of the dredging plan. Yet, when the decisions were made they were discussed in the light of day. There were public meetings. There were public documents on record. The New York State DEC carefully considered the point of view of stakeholders in the area.
Of course, it's one thing to dig through documents and scientific research. It's another to wonder and question what harm will come to your family when the wind shifts and a toxic odor comes wafting your way.
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