June 11, 2013 > Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
I speak as a scientist and analytical chemist with a number of years of experience addressing toxins in the environment, similar to the conditions at the Fremont Patterson Ranch development.
In the Tri-City Voice "Opinion" entitled "Help!" May 21, 2013, page 27, it was stated that "Barely a whimper was heard", regarding the toxic waste that was to be dug up and transported from the Fremont Patterson Ranch to the old quarry near Coyote Hills. On the contrary, numerous testimonies, even at the scientific level were provided by the public to the Fremont Planning Commission at the May 5 meeting. (Also a litany of public oral comments, documents and scientific testimony were provided at prior City meetings). However, in the May 5 meeting, and in the prior meetings, public testimony was typically ignored, despite the evidence and public requests for safer solutions to the toxic soil and to at least have more time for review (more than just one week to read and comment on a 500-page EIR Addendum).
More important, the City and Applicants get the last word in the hearings and often discredit the opposing public testimony, which can be humiliating, as the public is not allowed an oral rebuttal to correct false or distorted accusations. Therefore the public often questions the influence of financial benefits and personal gain regarding this process.
In the Opinion article, Mr. Marshak nobly suggested to develop "a system of advisory bodies composed of interested citizens", which also should include scientific. However, we find that it is difficult to obtain this type of independent system or to make a significant difference, and the conditions for Newark City meetings are considerably worse. Historically, large numbers of the public who have attempted to make a difference have given up, unfortunately, but a significant number tenaciously remain, despite their frustrations-and their voice has been more than just a whimper.