Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bring on the Toxic Sludge!

It seemed too good to be true that the Common Council would do something so innovative as to protect Hudson residents from the potential dangers of toxic waste from hydraulic fracturing by banning its use as a de-icing agent on our streets and prohibiting it from being accepted at our waste water treatment plant. As it turns out, it was. 

There were two resolutions before the Common Council tonight having to do with toxic waste from hydrofracking. The first was a resolution to adopt a negative declaration on the proposed action to amend the city code; the second was the actual amendment that would ban this toxic waste from entering Hudson in any way, shape, or form.

Tonight, after an executive session about the City's settlement with Holcim on their assessment grievance and a couple of routine resolutions, Council president Don Moore called for a vote on the first "fracking" resolution: to adopt a negative declaration. And the roll call began:

President Moore. Aye.
Alderman Donahue. No.
Alderman Friedman. Aye.
Alderman Haddad. Aye.
Alderman Marston. Aye.
Alderman Miah. No.
Alderman Pertilla. No.
Alderman Pierro. No.
Alderman Ramsey. No.
Alderman Stewart. No.
Alderman Wagoner. Aye.

The final count was 908 aye, 1,112 no. 

When Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) demanded to know why the majority of his fellow aldermen voted against a resolution meant to protect the residents of Hudson from being exposed to potentially hazardous toxic waste, Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward) said that the issue of hydraulic fracturing was "still under review." "The governor," said Pierro, "still hasn't made up his mind."

When the amendment to city code came before the Council, the vote was the same. 

When the meeting was about to adjourn, Linda Mussmann, from the audience, expressed her disappointment that the "fracking resolution" didn't pass. Victor Mendolia was more comprehensive in his criticism. He said he was embarrassed for the Council. He spoke of "toxic waste spread on city streets for de-icing" and the risk it posed to everyone in the city and said he hoped "people will educate themselves about the toxicity" of the waste from hydraulic fracturing.


  1. I am appalled by the majority vote of the Common Council to allow toxic waste to enter Hudson. This is clearly an example that we have elected officials who should not be in a position to represent us. Cappy Pierro's remark that the Governor hasn't made up his mind is irrelevant; it is the duty of every member of the Common Council to protect the health and safety of the people of Hudson and to err on the side of caution.This just reminds me of those who stood outside to watch the atom bomb test explosion in Nevada, so that they could get a closer look. We have to make sure that when these members come up for re election, that we remind their constituents of their poor decisions and lack of representation of our interests. Is there any way that the residents of Hudson can have this vote overturned?

    Cheryl Stuart

  2. Just wondering if the Council Members who
    voted NO kNOw anything about hydraulic fracturing? And what their thinking was to vote against the resolution that would keep them from being exposed to potentially hazardous toxic waste? Sure glad I don't live in Hudson.

  3. Maybe some form of 'intelligence testing' should be performed before just anyone can claim to be an alderperson.

  4. This comes as no surprise.

    It is not about fracking actually; it is about the lower class wards thumbing their collective noses at the higher class wards.

    Class struggle 101.

  5. Looks like toxic carcinogenic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials are now approved for dumping all over the streets of Hudson.

    I also noticed the city is exempt from testing for dioxin in the water supply. Who approved that? The next resolution to vote on should be to rename Hudson to Cancertown or Tumorville.

  6. Banning fracking materials and activities from Hudson is the lowest hanging fruit you can possibly find here. The ban would have achieved little more than being the latest "environmental" merit badge for Roberts and her usual company of frauds. That was always its greatest use and purpose (Politics 101).

    Real world: an actual petrochemical site in Hudson which sits next to a wetlands was intentionally excluded from the city's "Brownfields" grant application to the state's BOA program.

    The point is worth repeating: the "BOA Steering Committee" on which Roberts and the other frauds serve purposely excluded the former site of the Standard Oil facility from its "Brownfields" grant application to the state. (Keep in mind that no member of the public knew of the existence of this Steering Committee, though we had sufficient time to grasp the dishonesty of its product.)

    So where actual contaminants in Hudson are concerned, what might be considered a pressing responsibility for the city is instead suppressed. An actual brownfields site which will certainly interfere with the next nefarious development plan for the waterfront is helped down the memory hole, and the typically smug citizenry maintains its silence.

    Then, lo and behold, among those with the most to gain from this silence we find officials who are among the loudest supporters of a fracking ban!

    (Be warned that those with the biggest plans are the kinds who re-write history, even to the extreme point of making documents disappear.)

    In comparison with the silence over this erasure of an actual petrochemical contamination site in Hudson, the above scenario makes those who are expressing their outrage today appear as unwitting toadies.

    For those among you who feel the greatest outrage at the failure of this comparatively nonsensical fracking ban - and especially if you didn't submit a public comment on the city's thoroughly dishonest BOA program - you are possibly the biggest part of the problem in Hudson. You are an armchair environmentalist, an enabler, a fake, and an obstacle to responsible stewardship. Apparently there are hundreds of you.

    If this fracking ban was meant to lend cover for the self-regard of my fellow citizens who won't lift a finger when it comes to a real and present danger of toxic contamination, and at a moment when the city is actively engaged in its cover-up, then I have nothing to lose by reminding you - relentlessly if need be - what total hypocrites you are.

    What a ship of fools, and as usual nature pays the price. I'd like to say the hypocrisy is astounding, but it isn't in Hudson.

  7. Slow Art, please tell us more: "the city is exempt from testing for dioxin in the water supply."

  8. This situation provides a perfect opportunity for local media to confront the Aldermen who voted 'nay' and force them to explain themselves. Would love to see that kind of follow-up more often.

  9. Tim, you see shadows everywhere. I instigated the anti-fracking law at the request of a citizen and because it made sense. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  10. John, your ad hominem "shadows" comment which is intended to dismiss me by ridicule is an indication that you are among the enablers of whom I speak.

    If you'd taken greater care reading my comment, my point was that the anti-fracking legislation is very low hanging fruit. That part had nothing to do with any conspiracy, however effective your straw man argument will be at fooling fools.

    The thrust of my comment was that there are more sobering issues concerning contamination in Hudson which are no figment, and yet nobody is willing to address them.

    In that regard, your typical politician and/or lawyer is the last person I'd expect to do the responsible thing, and the first to reach for the easy pickin's.

  11. Tim, saying you see shadows is not an ad hominem comment; calling you an idiot would be, if I were to do that. Which I'm not. This is purely hypothetical you understand. We lawyers often do that, use hypotheticals to underscore a point, or to more clearly draw the listener's attention to a particular aspect of an argument. As for discrediting you, well, you do a perfectly fine job of discrediting yourself. Any effort in this regard on my part would be wholly redundant and I'm too busy for that sort of thing.

  12. Perhaps, just perhaps, a vote was called for prematurely. From my days representing a not-for-profit organization's interests to a state legislature, I never wanted a vote until I was quite assured of the outcome.

  13. John, people can read for themselves that I never suggested that the favoring of anti-fracking legislation implied "shadows."

    The hypocrisy takes place between the facile concerns about fracking and an actual and present case of petrochemical contamination in the South Bay.

    That contamination involves a century of very real shadow activity, some of it continued in the current BOA program as a direct result of the subterfuge in the LWRP. The same officials who supported your next-to-meaningless fracking ban were the ones most guilty of cheating the previously ecologically-minded public in the LWRP/GEIS.

    I won't need to convince anyone who payed attention during the GEIS fight on what points they knew they were being snookered. In that light, you are now making yourself appear as a toady, and without my prompting. It is an unforced error on your part.

    Unlike attorneys who stand to be injured by interruptions to their sophistry, we mere citizens occasionally take our practical reasoning out for a spin. What we find without fail is that the time-waster's grasping at the easiest fruit is no hypothetical, but a continuous political reality and misuse of limited resources.

    Your scurrilous words above speak volumes about your character, at least for those who are willing to open their eyes.

    By all means keep it coming; sink your boat all by yourself.

  14. hoping this simply pure ignorance on the part of many of our elected officials and look forward to this being brought up again in the near future.

  15. I see, Tim - so we should only spend our resources on cleaning up messes after they've been made, ad hoc, rather than trying to prevent them. Got it. Cue ad hominem attack.

    Anyone who thinks I'm a toady clearly doesn't know me. And who am I a toady for, precisely? Let's see . . . Cheryl Roberts? That's a laugh -- I actually cause her more trouble and grief than you can imagine doing yourself. The mayor? He's called for my removal from, among other things, the Police Committee. The "powers that be?" Clearly you've never attended a City Council meeting while I've been a member of that august body.

    Tim, you raise your own point of view and logic to a fetish. Then you refuse to bend from that orthodoxy when presented with conflicting or difficult data. You live in a black-and-white world of your own making while the rest of us live in a world full of shades of grey. You attempt to insult me by denigrating my profession?! I'm a lawyer, dude -- you'd have to be particularly creative to find a new way to insult my calling. You question my character? OK -- fine. Question it all you like. You just sound desperate -- perhaps you need a rest.

  16. John, I didn't finger you above, but as usual you threw yourself into the fray.

    I'm glad to know those things in your second paragraph above. Most of what I know about you comes from your continuous efforts to ridicule me, and also the few times you've addressed me privately.

    It's plain that we detest one another, but let's try to keep some decorum, man.

    Your third paragraph immediately above is 100% ad hominem and smear.

    I have often complained about the insularity of the alderman "club," or clique, and anyone like yourself who is so bent on condescension towards non-lawyers doesn't earn much confidence in that department.

    I'm just saying that people become toadies in this city without ever trying. It's something we must all guard against, no matter who we think we're taking a stand against.

    In September you vocally went against me at a council meeting where I questioned your vote (among others) for prematurely wasting my money on a study in the very area of the site I'm speaking about, and which implicates that site in ways that you cannot possibly know about.

    When I questioned the existence of an environmental study of the same area which cited - or invented - by Roberts in order to silence the public during a 2010 council meeting on the LWRP's Generic Environmental Impact Statement, you couldn't have been less interested. Even if you maintain that my inquiry was not relevant, which of course you will, in effect you managed to protect Roberts and to silence me. Because I was even then building a case against the city's (and Roberts') dishonest BOA application, for that bullying alone you should be ashamed.

    Moore as usual "didn't see the relevance" either, and eventually shouted at me to "sit down!"

    But you, brave and honest counsel, you were less than interested in what I had to say. I would say that you were downright hostile. You certainly looked pleased with Mr. Moore's handling of the situation, yet ever since then you've had the temerity to browbeat residents for not coming to council meetings in order to make their views known.

    As George Will among others never tires of pointing out, Common Councils and municipal legislatures across the nation are chugged with people who need to tell other people what to do. I think that you are capable of doing good things (and Roberts is not, for instance), but you are also a good candidate for the type of behavior Will decries.

    No, I'm not desperate. This place is too utterly ruined for that. I am however disgusted.

    It's almost too perfect that nobody is weighing in on any of this! Do people really not know what I'm talking about?

    I guess you win, John. Congratulations for wasting your words on such a know-nothing.

  17. Tim O'Connor complaining about ad hominem attacks? That's rich!

  18. Victor Mendolia in his official capacity was spared the charge of an unethical outing of a citizens' politics only by the population size of our city (unless he looked it up first ... right). This is the man who is speaking above.

    Give us one instance of my use of ad hominem Victor, and I'll eat my hat.

    I stand by the word "toady" above, for all the excellent reasons given.


    About Fracking Wastewater As De-Icing Agent

    The gas industry, in an attempt to dispose of millions of gallons of fracking wastewater, has marketed the salty byproduct of the natural gas drilling process (brine) to municipalities as an alternative to traditional road salt. Municipalities have also used it to tamp down dust on dirt roads.

    TestAmerica recently conducted a study on fracking wastewater as a de-icing agent, the Brine Analysis Test. Their research uncovered DEC records revealing arsenic, cadmium, benzene, toluene, phenol, naphthalene in the wastewater. The Ithaca Times reported: “In a 2010 pollutant analysis, a nationwide environmental laboratory TestAmerica found that brine from a Buffalo-based gas company contained increased levels of benzene. Furthermore, critics argue that brine use puts area waterways at risk of contamination.” In that same article, Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting says “No one knows all of the compounds present in the brine.”

    The 2011 DEC SGEIS included (Appendix 13) radiation test results from wastewater of 13 vertically fracked wells in NY. Those tests showed highly dangerous levels of radiation, specifically radium226. The levels were up to 267 times the EPA’s maximum safe standard for wastewater, thousands of times what is safe to drink (tests reveal up to 16,000 pico-curies per liter of radioactivity when EPA safe level for drinking water is 5pc/l).

    Brine that is spread on New York roads ends up in surface waters, water ways, and eventually New York drinking water. The health threat from potentially highly radioactive materials is terrifying and from a gas industry that has exemptions from most of our basic environmental protections such as the Clean Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act.

  20. Tim, like most lawyers, I work and live primarily with non-lawyers -- much in the same way that a grocer spends most of their time with non-grocers. I get along fine with most folks -- I don't dismiss people based on their choice of profession or their career. I don't, however, suffer fools easily and you have shown yourself, time and again, to be little better than that. You make some good points, Tim, but you are so orthodox in your approach to damn near everything and anything that you alienate yourself. That's foolish. We're done.

  21. Notice that none of my above arguments were engaged by either politico.

    To repeat my assertion, an actual case of petrochemical contamination that is being covered up by the city will go unaddressed, while the politicos set their sights on a very remote contamination threat to Hudson.

    The only response that could be mistaken as being substantive was when Mr. Friedman asked me whether "we should only spend our resources on cleaning up messes after they've been made, ad hoc, rather than trying to prevent them"?

    I have no problem with anti-fracking legislation. My problem is that this effort is a substitute for tackling an actual, present danger and an ongoing cover-up. Whether it is done intentionally or not, it is a distraction.

    If this were not so, someone would have addressed some small part of the substance of my arguments. No one did. (Nor did other commenters.)

    When it's easier to target the speaker than address the speaker's content, an ad hominem argument becomes a handy substitute for real argumentation.

    Rather than meet me halfway (remember that the fracking issue is a substitute), an alderman who I had not personally challenged went on to make the following replies to my arguments:

    1. "[You] see shadows everywhere." (11:54 AM)

    2. "[S]aying you see shadows is not an ad hominem comment ..." (1:33 PM).

    3. "As for discrediting you, well, you do a perfectly fine job of discrediting yourself. Any effort in this regard on my part would be wholly redundant and I'm too busy for that sort of thing" (1:33 PM).

    4. "[You] raise your own point of view and logic to a fetish. ..." (3:45 PM).

    5. "[Y]ou refuse to bend from that orthodoxy when presented with conflicting or difficult data" (3:45 PM).

    6. "You live in a black-and-white world of your own making while the rest of us live in a world full of shades of grey" (3:45 PM).

    7. "You attempt to insult me by denigrating my profession?!" (3:45 PM). [Q: Where? When?]

    For Victor Mendolia who perhaps doesn't understand what the phrase means, the following definition for "ad hominem" is from "":

    "As the principal meaning of the preposition ad suggests, the homo of ad hominem was originally the person to whom an argument was addressed, not its subject. The phrase denoted an argument designed to appeal to the listener's emotions rather than to reason .... The phrase now chiefly describes an argument based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case ..."

    Make no mistake that my arguments were addressed above. Further, it's not hard to predict that an actual and present petrochemical contamination at our waterfront - and the city's strenuous efforts to conceal the issue, recently renewed - probably will never be addressed.

    The exhaustible lesson of life in Hudson: don't challenge the powers lest you be smeared.

  22. Edit: "Make no mistake that my arguments were NOT addressed above"(!).