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E-M:/ PEER/Ingham Water Report: MSU State News Gets it Wrong, WAY WRONG



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Enviro-Mich message from "McKenna, Brian" <mckennab@STARR.ORG>
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Dear EMers,

Yesterday's Michigan State News story "Environmental group claims county
misreported water quality facts" by Shaun Byron got it wrong. Way wrong.

See the piece at:
 
http://www.statenews.com/article.phtml?pk=5871
 
The first order of business: the State News' insinuation that the General
Motor's plant at 920 Townsend St. in Lansing, is not a serious concern.

The reporter, Mr. Byron used two sources to get at the truth.

First, Byron interviewed Ken Silven, a spokesman for the DEQ  who "said he
was not familiar with the site." and then Byron went to Renee Rashid, a
spokeswoman for GM, who "said the plant is brand new and doubts the validity
of the accusation."

I wonder why Mr. Byron did not call someone in the DEQ (like Ben Hall, who's
with the LUST division, and is referred to in the water report I and the
Roundtable produced), or me?

Here are the facts:

A simple call to Hall or his colleagues at the DEQ's the Shiawassee office
(517-625-5515) will get you the truth. Yesterday I spoke with them to see if
there had been any changes in the GM site's status since April 2000. I was
informed by Molly Lamrouex, of the DEQ, that "The GM plant at 920 Townsend
Street [still] is a Class 1 site with 14 confirmed releases and is an
immediate threat to health safety or the environment."

Ms. Lamrouex said that she would call Ken Silven to inform him of this. Mr.
Silven is a media liaison with the DEQ and could not have been expected to
immediately know about this. Ms. Lamrouex sounded amazed that the GM
spokeswoman claimed she did not know about this. 

But then again, how could she when reporter's like Byron are helping to
serve the corporations by getting the facts all wrong?

I ask interested EMers to check the facts for yourselves and then, if so
inclined, send an e-mail to the State News for a retraction.

As for the overall structure of the article, quite poor. The author had 5
sources who either criticized PEER or did not know what they were talking
about. As opposed to just one source (Eric Wingerter of PEER) saluting the
hard work behind the Ingham County Health Department's suppressed water
story.

 5 to 1: not fair!
 
Amazingly, the reporter sourced out a satisfied drinker of East Lansing's
water thus lending credence to the view that maybe PEER got it wrong. In
fact, if Mr. Byron had actually read the report he would plainly see that
East Lansing water, though historically higher than the other 2 major
utilities in chlorine, is pretty damn good water. I drink it myself as does
my daughter. I should point out however, that I have it from an inside
source at the Ingham County Health Department that a public health official
who lives in East Lansing (and who has some authority/influence over water
policy) DOES NOT drink East Lansing water because he is afraid it might give
him bladder cancer (see my next City Pulse article). He keeps this fear to
himself and does NOT share it with the public. I will not name him here but
will say that that is irresponsible!

WHY NOT SIMPLY TRUST THE PEOPLE WITH AMBIGUOUS KNOWLEDGE RATHER THAN
CENSORING OR SUPPRESSING IT!!!!

The main point is that much of our knowledge about environmental health
happens to be "ambiguous." There are few certainties. . .jeez, it's a
relatively NEW FIELD of inquiry medical students only spend 5 hours or so of
their curriculum on it. . . .

In Solidarity,

Brian McKenna, Ph.D.
Public Citizen
Social Scientist
Environmentalist



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