Comment for the Sake of the Ohio River; It’s About Our Lives

© BlairPhotoEVV. Used with permission. Thanks John!

Update: Here’s another letter-to-the-editor you may use to craft your own: ORSANCO needs area support

Dr. Randi Pokladnik, who we are lucky to count as an OVEC member, delivered the comments below at a July 26 hearing hosted by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). Randi and OVEC staffer Robin Blakeman both serve on ORSANCO’s Watershed Organizations Advisory Committee.

ORSANCO is currently taking comments on a proposal to change the way it deals with pollution control standards for the Ohio River. These changes would not be good. Hopefully you’ve read our other posts detailing why these changes are not good, and what you can do to comment. The deadline to send in written comments is August 20. We are also encouraging folks to write letters-to-the-editor. All kinds of background information, notes on how to comment and a sample letter-to-the-editor you can use to help shape your own letter are all here.

If none of that spurs you to take up pen and write, we hope Randi’s comments with inspire you to action:                                                                          

ORSANCO
5735 Kellogg Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45230
Attn: PCS Comments

Comments given at  ORSANCO July 26 meeting:

My name is Dr. Randi Pokladnik, I have a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ohio. Where my house was located, we could walk to the Ohio River. I have family and friends living in and around the entire Ohio River Valley from Toronto to Marietta, Ohio.

My husband and I drove over five hours from Uhrichsville, Ohio to speak about this issue. I was born in 1955. This was before any real clean water regulations had been written. By 1973, when I was about to go into college, I decided to major in environmental engineering. At that time, If you fell in or went swimming in the Ohio River there was a good chance you would become ill or at the very least surface with an oil slick on your head.

While the river water quality has improved since then, and some industries have been closed down, I can see more dangerous industries in the future especially those connected to oil and gas development. This industry has already affected many communities as we have seen by some other comments made today.

These are not your grandfather’s pollutants. These are chlorinated organic hydrocarbons that have the ability to accumulate in fat deposits of humans and other species and cause cancer as well as endocrine disruption. These compounds can cause damage in very small quantities which makes it even more obvious that we need water quality standards set by ORSANCO now more than ever before.

Many of these compounds must be tested by using a gas chromatograph/mass spectrophotometer. I don’t feel that the states can be trusted to set standards and carry our monitoring programs that would be equivalent to ORSANCO’S. The states would have to be able to purchase this very expensive equipment, train operators, and interpret results.

Right now our Ohio River is the most polluted in the country. We cannot drink from a toilet and remain healthy but that’s what we are being asked to do. The river could become much more polluted and we could witness cancer rates in the valley increasing tenfold.

We owe it to the next generation and to our children to keep vigilant on the water quality of the river. It is interesting that no one representing industry has made a comment on this issue today. Is this meeting just to provide token participation and is the vote for option two already a done deal?

We need to contact our local and state politicians to let them know how we feel about this decision, whether option two is chosen or not we must keep putting pressure on ORSANCO to maintain its Pollution Control Standards rather than abandoning them. This is about our lives and in my opinion it will cause more harm to communities all along the river if option two becomes a reality.

Randi Pokladnik

Ph.D. Environmental Studies
MA Environmental and Community Issues
BA Chemistry
AAS Environmental Engineering
ISO-14001 Environmental Auditor Certified
Hazardous Materials Certified

People not only use the Ohio River as a source of drinking water, they recreate on it! Photos and montage by John Blair, used with permission,   © BlairPhotoEVV

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