A version of this letter to the editor originally appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on December 13, 2019.
As I sat and watched the newly released movie, Dark Waters, I thought, “this could be the future of the Ohio River Valley.” Inspired by a true story, the movie tells how a multi-national company knowingly and willingly poisoned thousands of residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia for decades; all to make billions of dollars.
Parkersburg, WV is not unique. There are hundreds of places all over the United States where industries continue to dump known toxins into waterways while leaders and politicians look the other way.
Ohio’s regulatory agencies know millions of tons of toxins will be coming out of the smokestacks of the proposed Belmont County plastic cracker plant and into the air. They know toxic organic compounds will be flowing into the Ohio River. They know that the current petrochemical hub of the USA, Cancer Alley Louisiana, has a cancer rate fifty times higher than the rest of the nation.
There have been no baseline studies to determine the amounts of plasticizers and microplastics now present in the Ohio River, the drinking water source for more than five million people. Based on peer reviewed studies, we know that these compounds are carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors.
We have pleaded with Governor DeWine to meet with us, to discuss this, to listen to our concerns, to find other sustainable ways to provide jobs. He ignores us and instead, he met with the PTT Global (the aforementioned plastic cracker plant) officials last week.
How can Governor DeWine say he cares about kids? Or clean water? Just like in the story of Dark Waters, money has become more important to our local, state and federal politicians than the lives or the future of the Ohio Valley residents.