EPA could care less about a small town

Proving once again it is a “do as we say, not as we do” bully, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is playing games with the residents of Minden, W.Va., who are worried about the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls left behind by the former Shaffer Equipment Company, which has been gone from the area since 1984.

For 23 years, the EPA has dragged its feet with multiple cleanup efforts in the area. Shaffer operated there from 1970 to 1984; the EPA started its work in 1994.

And yet, testing by the EPA still finds levels of PCBs in the area that are above its own standards. Predictably, the EPA’s response is that more extensive testing is still needed, while residents worry that already more than two decades of EPA “help” has not removed the potential danger from their town.

“We’re going to be there for a while, honestly,” said EPA acting regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues. The EPA is gathering more samples, awaiting more analysis, conducting more tests … with what appears to be no sense of urgency. In fact, they have put in place no timetable for their work.

Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine if a private company or property owner was being ordered by the EPA to clean up its mess to a level that met EPA standards. There would be a (probably unreasonable) timetable; there would be no wiggle room allowed for more tests, more analysis; there would certainly be no shrugging of shoulders and acceptance of the idea that cleanup might take “a while.” Failure to meet the EPA’s requirements would result in swift and harsh consequences.

All the while, the EPA would be pretending its harassment of the private company or individual was out of concern for the health of the other residents of the area. Where is the agency’s concern for residents of Minden now?