To the editor: It is a human right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and not be trespassed against by a toxic neighbor.
I recently contributed an article to The People’s Paper, a publication in the MatSu Borough. It was on PM2.5. My experience with PM2.5 is from first-hand experience of living in Fairbanks underneath the stacks of the power plant on First Avenue. You ask why in the world would you want to live there? Because it was my family home for generations.
It’s where Gramma Hutch brought up around a dozen kids, to include some of Alaska’s pioneers. I’m not sure the year it was built, 1910 I think, but it’s the home of James and Helen Hutchison, for whom the The Hutchison Institute of Technology was named. It’s where my mom grew up, where her children would go visit and run over to Lindy’s and get groceries for Gramma. It was the safe haven for a single mom to come home to raise a couple of boys.
After I contributed the PM2.5 article in August, I heard an NPR broadcast about air pollution and adult cognition. The show was “Freakonomics” and entitled “This is your brain on pollution.” They posit that it is “well-established that air pollution has significant negative effects on the human body. And many places do require a public announcement when pollution levels are high. But is it possible that on a given day, high pollution can affect your brain, your cognitive abilities?” It was a fascinating radio segment. And sad. And it sure made me feel depressed that in Fairbanks, Alaska, coal is the main thing being burned to generate electricity. It’s outdated, antiquated and there is a better way or ways that do not exact the human toll of coal.
I look forward to learning more about what is going on in Fairbanks to address not only air and water pollution but the ground as well. I’m sure that several coal fired power plants don’t help things. When coal is burned, waste is generated. Toxic waste. And that toxic waste is taken from the power plants and dumped on the ground in unlined areas upstream and adjacent to wetlands and wildlife refuges. This is a human rights issue. It needs to be treated more seriously than what I see currently.