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Letters to the editor for 1/13

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VFW wood raffle canceled

Lousy weather and horrible roads, so VFW Post 4362 has decided to cancel the wood raffle we had scheduled for this weekend, Saturday, Jan. 14, and Sunday, Jan. 15.

The event will be rescheduled at our next meeting, which is always on the first Thursday of the month, so expect to see the raffle in mid-February.

The winning ticket is still to be drawn, so everyone be safe.

Tom Ford


VFW Post 4362


Don’t keep St. Helens residents in the dark on wastewater lagoon

Here’s another word for me to learn — remediation. I could not find it in the Oxford University Press dictionary, so I coupled it with the words “active remediation” and checked on an environmental website. There it was: “Engaging in affirmative action to remove contaminants from soil or water.”

The purpose of sharing this information with you is because on Friday, Jan. 6, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Record of Decision regarding the Portland harbors Superfund (toxic waste site) was released.

And this could be of significant import to the city of St. Helens.

Don McLaren of the EPA described the chosen “active remediation” plan as a “protective remedy.” Protective for whom? Portland — because

they are getting rid of carcinogens (cancer causing), PCBs, DDTs, dioxins, etc.?

He said there would be no Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) with this plan and all material dredged must be stored in a “licensed upland facility.”

Here is where St. Helens enters the story. Our City Council wants the citizens to accept these chemicals rejected by Portland and add them to our toxic lagoon on city-owned property because we will be paid to do so. The city can then build a sewage treatment plant, a beautiful park, condos, docks, walking paths, businesses — all on top of this chemical dump. I don’t know what else to call it.

So, who is going to plan a “protective remedy” for the city of St. Helens?

Sure, we might be paid as much as $50 million or better to take this garbage, and then St. Helens could build a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant. But at what cost? As I have said before: No one knows how long it takes these carcinogens to break down. No one knows if they ever do break down. No one knows how long a liner in the lagoon could resist the deterioration from these chemicals. In fact, no one knows how to separate the bad toxic waste from the really bad toxic waste.

Perhaps the city should look into the feasibility of low-interest bonds to fund this plant. Perhaps they already have. If so, the city’s executive sessions have kept the citizens from hearing about it.

St. Helens City Councilman Keith Locke has said he supported acquiring the property but would have preferred a “straight trade” of the (toxic) sludge liability for the land. So are we to believe there was a clause in this contractual sales agreement between the city of St. Helens and Boise White Paper that stated the city would pay Boise $3 million and the city would pay to have the sludge problem taken care of with no recourse to sue Boise? That doesn’t make any sense. Who would have signed an agreement such as that?

Maybe electing a new mayor is what it is all about. Maybe the people of St. Helens and throughout the county have finally gotten fed up with the political intrigues and the same people elected over and over. Perhaps Mayor Rick Scholl, with his transparency proclamations and at the helm of city government, actually will include the citizens in these decisions.

Maybe we can even help.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

If it sounds too good to be true for St. Helens ...

The city of St. Helens has fallen into Barnum and Baily’s “sucker group” of “There’s a Fool Born Every Minute.”

While the city spreads propaganda to brainwash its citizens on the benefits of being a upland dredge disposal recipient of hazardous materials, they have failed to mention the need for costly long-term liability insurance to cover the site in case it leaches out or has an unforeseen event.

They have neglected to convey the possible cost of having to cover the cost of monitoring and managing the site. So far, the city puts on the act of receiving toxic chemicals as a good thing, when they either don’t know all the associated costs or are not being forthright with the taxpayers.

The city has never mentioned that the state of Oregon owns this material, which is somewhat equivalent to dredge spoils — and the state would receive royalties from the material, costing the city taxpayers millions. Unless the state agrees to waive the royalties, the taxpayers will be on the hook. Then the next problem arises — how will these spoils be classified? After all, they will be dredge up and deposited in Columbia County. They just might fall under the county’s Natural Resource and Depletion Fee and Transportation Ordinance, just like all other dredge spoils. Will the county waive its associated fee or collect it? Either way they go, they will be a participant in the degradation of the community unless they speak out against this poorly thought-out plan.

The city knows that the current water treatment plant is leaking and leaching into the Multnomah Channel and Columbia River. I wonder why they won’t make the results of the testing available to the public when asked. Better yet, why is the state allowing the city a pass on the leaching discharge of waste water pollution into nearby waterways? The city is aware of the problem. Instead of trying to wheel and deal their way into a new water treatment facility, which apparently they need, why don’t they just be forthright with the community and take action to rectify the problem?

Instead of taking toxic material from Portland’s harbors and contaminating our community even more and being on the hook for future associated costs and risks — and then depending on the bribery payment to take the toxins in order to pay for a new treatment facility — the city needs to do what is right without wheeling and dealing.

If it sounds too good to be true then it usually is.

Tammy Maygra

Deer Island

Thanks for buying poinsettias

On behalf of the St. Helens chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, I would like to thank the members of the community who purchased poinsettias from our chapter. The sale of these poinsettias are the main fundraiser for our local, state and international scholarships.

P.E.O. provides educational opportunities for women. We do this by offering scholarships, grants, awards and loans to help women enhance their lives through learning. This past year, the St. Helens chapter gave a total of $3,040 in local scholarships, $1,875 in state P.E.O. scholarships, and $1,400 in international P.E.O. scholarships. 

Again, thank you to all who purchased a poinsettia from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. We couldn’t have done all this without your support. 

Karen Van Winkle

P.E.O. Sisterhood

St. Helens Chapter