Keep Our Wells Clean seeks apology
State representatives Harvey Kenton and Steve Smyk and state senators Ernesto Lopez, Brian Pettyjohn and Gary Simpson have written a letter published in the Cape Gazette falsely asserting that an activist group has circulated false claims and engaged in deceptive practices. The letter concerns the Artesian proposal to accept poultry wastewater from Allen Harim and to spray the effluent on fields in the Milton area.
Their letter stated: "One activist group has circulated emails to residents living in the area falsely claiming they invited elected officials to a meeting they staged to discuss the project." It went on to claim that they "missed the event that had been kept secret..." The only community group of which I am aware is Keep Our Wells Clean, of which I am a co-founder. I am the author of the emails sent on behalf of our civic organization to concerned members of the community. I never sent out an email claiming to have invited legislators, nor did any of us castigate legislators for not attending a meeting.
If these elected representatives are referring to my email notices, then their claims are false, and have been made either without their having read the messages, or with complete disregard for the falsity of their claims. In either case, their statements, made with complete disregard for the truth, are beneath the dignity of any individual public official.
I have sent emails to local residents who have expressed concern about the ANSRWRF permit application. The meetings held, all of which have been open to the public, informed citizens of the history and background of the Artesian proposal and the current status of the application. Residents were encouraged to express their concerns to local elected representatives and provided with contact information. Some of us have previously contacted our representatives; I contacted Rep. Smyk over two months ago, but never received any response. I have been made aware that he had issued a statement that it was not a legislative issue. At a recent meeting, an apparent inconsistency in his position was pointed out given that, in the past, Rep. Smyk had taken a vocal position regarding foul odor and pollution issues at the Allen Harim facility.
Since the letter signed by five elected officials appears to make false accusations directed at me, I believe I am owed a very public retraction and an apology.
The Artesian project remains a serious concern to local residents. How can we be confident of the quality of the effluent that will be piped from Allen Harim up to the Artesian 90-million-gallon lagoon? Allen Harim, which will be self-monitoring the quality of the effluent, has accumulated over 90 violations, yet it has not been subjected to a single fine by DNREC, the regulatory agency that is charged with our protection.
Allen Harim had secured a special low-interest loan of $5 million to construct a facility to clean its processing water to the extent that much of it could be re-used within the facility, reducing both the millions of gallons of water pulled from our aquifers on a daily basis and the level of effluent released. Instead, they have abandoned the project, transferred the funds to Artesian, and will now be subject to lower standards for the effluent that has resulted in multiple complaints from residents of the Harbeson area. Artesian may currently operate a compliant facility in Middletown; however, the company will have no operational control over the wastewater that is pumped from Allen Harim. It is Allen Harim, which has repeatedly failed to comply with its existing discharge permit, that will test the discharge. Given the repeated, ongoing violations, there is simply no basis for Artesian to assert that the wastewater will comply with specific standards. And there is no basis for local residents to be confident that their wells will not be contaminated. What testing will Artesian be conducting? They will have monitoring wells to test the groundwater to determine whether the groundwater has been contaminated. I know that many of my neighbors are concerned about the impact of the project on not only their wells, but their property values. If every elected representative who signed off on the letter to the Cape Gazette is so confident that the existence of this project is harmless, each should affirmatively state his opinion that no homeowner selling a residence in the area has an obligation to disclose the project in the required Seller’s Disclosure and issue an affirmative statement that he will agree to indemnify any homeowners who may be subject to claims for a failure to disclose.
Andrea G. Green
Keep Our Wells Clean