Pollution is on the rebound

To the Editor,

It is good to hear a conservative tell a liberal he has some good points (James Johnson from Follansbee to Steve Kopa of Weirton in Easter Sunday’s Editor Letter). Mr. Johnson had some excellent points also, about car battery disposal and one time use throw away plastic bottles. What I was astounded to read was, “The sky from Pittsburgh along the Ohio River used to be black with smoke, but now it is clear as can be, so where is the pollution?” Mr. Johnson, it is in your backyard! It’s called the Coke Plant. On days of atmospheric inversion you can smell the toxic sulfur dioxide it emits all up and down the river, which happens frequently in the winter. It settles like a pall on Steubenville and downtown Weirton. Those who are constantly inundated with the stench don’t recognize it because our olfactory receptors stop messaging our brains when constantly immersed. If that were not true, how could pigs tolerate living with themselves?

Yes, the sky is clear of black smoke (visible particulate matter) but what is more insidious are the invisible toxins coke and cracker plants emit that not only cause COPD but notoriously higher rates of cancer. Pittsburgh has the sixth highest incidence of lung cancer in the nation. The Clairton coke plant, 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, whose ancient age of 100 years rivals the Follansbee coke works, was sued because of the inordinate number of cancers occurring in the area. Part of the settlement requires it to modernize its facilities to abate its toxic emissions.

Three out of the seven remaining coke plants in the United States as well as a hazardous waste incinerator and a cracker plant are within a 30 mile radius, as the crow flies, of Weirton.

Our elected officials are eager for more (cracker plants) to join in this carcinogenic radius of death.

Blaise Hogan



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