Friday, April 2, 2010
The Nature of Socialism in the Ozarks
No, I'm not talking about Medicare, public libraries, free parking on Dickson Street, farm subsidies for Jim Lindsey, management training programs for a Chinese flea market, or home delivery of junk mail. This is real, and it is costing taxpayers $2.4 million. Not a single Republican candidate for Congress has called a press conference to denounce it or to urge their flock to chain themselves to the fence in protest. The Teabaggers who oppose all millages for public schools have made n'airy a peep nor a misspelled sign against this one.
R&P Electroplating of Fayetteville operated a metal plating facility from 1974 to 1997 in the industrial area on the banks of the White River. The company illegally dumped cyanide and heavy metals into the Fayetteville sewer system and severely damaged the city's sewer treatment plant. That cost Fayetteville taxpayers $21,000 in repairs.
The business owners walked away from the site in 1997, leaving the abandoned facility full of cyanide, acid plating solutions, solvents, acids, caustic soda beads and soda ash, oils, spent solutions and sludge. In 1999, 42,081 gallons of liquid waste and 410,200 pounds of solid and sludge waste were removed under an emergency order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Then it just sat there for years as environmental reports documenting the hazards piled up on the shelf. A few years ago under a previous city administration a proposal was floated to make it a city park with a playground. Obviously a bad idea, and it went nowhere.
Yesterday, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality announced public funding for a $2.4 million contract with Southern Environmental Management and Specialties Inc. of Baton Rouge to clean up the abandoned industrial site on Pump Station Road. The taxpayers will foot the bill to clean up the mess left by a private corporation that reaped profits and degraded the environment for more than 20 years. Still to come is the multi-million dollar cleanup of the toxic dump at SouthPass that a former mayor rushed to get for the citizens of Fayetteville.
Everyone seems to think it is alright to bailout banks with toxic assets and businesses that leave their toxic chemicals, but it is horrible to provide a public option for those who cannot afford private Blue Cross health insurance rates. The only consistency in all of this seems to be that socialism for the rich is fine, but public assistance for the less fortunate is terrible.