The Toxics Release Inventory had not been invented when our BF Goodrich plant was operating, but the his sister site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama listed #s released into the atmosphere last year, letting us imagine how many tons of emissions belched out of ours all those years of operation. Many families who lived in the neighborhood remember the carbon black if they did laundry and hung it out to dry, or had a car they doted over. But anyone who was in Miami remembered that smell. Where there is smell there are emissions and we must have been recipients of a lot of what came out.
One sister site in Calvert City, Kentucky is a superfund site and the site in California is damaged, too. The site in Thomaston, Georgia had what we have, "liquid" and asbestos and it was deemed a removal only site, which sounds like a quick and easy-fix for those Contaminants of Concern which are determined to be concentrated and may cause harm to humans if exposed.
Benjamin Franklin Goodrich made it big with rubber and when Akron, Ohio residents raised $13,600 dollars to encourage him to choose their site, he made it the Rubber Capital of the World for a time. He made real money when he made tires that could be inflated with air, air is cheaper than rubber, first for bicycles, then for cars.
The City of Miami supplied the land for our BF Goodrich plant. And the City waits patiently for the land to be returned to it. With renewed ownership the city could pursue cleanup through a Brownfields program EPA offers, a way to make wasted land reusable. But ownership has been hard to come from out of state owners who hold firm to titles. But the guy with the cape in this story is a humble official who works for EPA and has worked in our county years back on the Tar Creek Superfund site. He knows us. He knows we have issues and that this is an environmental justice site, a place where it has been piled higher and deeper on us and our health and wealth has suffered from our exposure and damaged unusable lands.
Manufacturing plants like to be built near rivers, generally so their products can ship easily but I wonder if it might also be easier for discharges to go unnoticed into water. But a much easier way might be to let it seep into the ground, in our case creating a plume of benzene some 8 to 12 feet below the surface under part of the abandoned plant and stretching into the neighborhood receiving some treatment and monitored periodically. At the Goodrich site in Kentucky it was required to pump and treat contaminated groundwater to prevent its discharge to their river, that would be their Tennessee River.
Say lead, think Tar Creek Superfund site and chat piles, but the BF Goodrich plant in Tuscaloosa up until 2010 was admitting they were emitting lead in their air emissions which also included 109,277 pounds of other chemicals according to the Toxics Release Inventory.
We know there are health concerns with our Goodrich site, asbestos and the benzene, but is that all there really is? Has the site really been assessed fully? We want asbestos and benzene removed, the debris cleared off, the deep pits secured. But what about the rest of the site? the oozing discolored water, the dumps many workers say are north of the site, and off site closer to the river, our Neosho.
If our caped EPA man is coming he will need to convince our PRP's, our real Potentially Responsible Parties to come and do what is right, to enter into an agreement for clean up for that piece of land and return it repaired to the city who gave it 75 years ago. That would be one of the honorable things that could be done to help this community end this relationship on the good faith it began.
In a 2016 Joplin Globe story the Dobson Memorial Center hosted a get-together for BF Goodrich former workers 30 years since the plant closed, there is a photo of 3 former workers inside the fence with one holding a brick. We know you served your families well, dear former workers, don't cross those fences and take souvenirs anymore, the gates are posted with warnings about the asbestos, not to enter without a respirator. Let's let the man with our future in his hands take it from here. Be ready to show him where the dumps are, let me know if you are willing.
Miami Academy students and their faculty are broadcasting our hope, "Get IT Done, ASAP" with banners, letters and much more will follow.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim