The meeting would be held in a room not really big enough for it, so the plan was to drop my friend off for a doctor's appointment, go quickly to that crowded meeting, wedge into the room and wait to be able to stand up for the environment and our state's waters, even while already standing, since that's what you do in a 'standing room' only space.
When we checked my friend in for her appointment we were told she would not be able to have her procedure if her "driver" was not with her when her name was called. Now who could leave? NOT ME. So we waited together and watched the time for the meeting come and pass. Friends are pretty special and to be asked to stand and wait for one, is pretty precious time, well spent. She survived and got up the next morning for the follow-up exam only to get the best of news on her results.
The brand new day allowed for time to make it to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, a day late, but a day before the comments were officially do, to hand over in person written comments. It was my letter, but honestly most of the comments were written by Earl Hatley, our Grand Riverkeeper, who has been writing comment letters to every agency Oklahoma has and telling them 'how to' for decades, I just got to put my spin on his comments and sign my name.
It is a sweet thing to do what you came to do, even a day late. The last time I came to Oklahoma City had been for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Board Meeting and afterward I went to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and requested official records.
I am continuing to pour over pages of B F Goodrich documents from a corporation commission hearing that was held in Oklahoma City in 2012. It is a page turner. If only the hearing could have been held here in the gym at Will Rogers a block from the plant. It could have been open to the public, open for the residents, open for the former workers, their widows, their children to hear what was known and perhaps to have the chance to offer the missing pieces. The missing pieces of evidence of what happened, what was left behind so a for real cleanup could be determined. A cleanup that valued our community and the hours our fathers and uncles and grandfathers we never got to know tolerated unbearable heat and conditions we cannot fathom.
Through the documents, I have met scientists, researchers, field hands, lawyers, the corporate representatives who deny this chemical was used and call it by another name in the next sentence. Every way chemical waste could be disposed of is exposed in the documents, including, scouts honor in mine shafts on the property.
I have actually met some of the officials who work for the state who have been tromping through the muck and the asbestos filled spaces for decades. They have worked for us and been stymied by samples that failed to be collected, by conflicted recollections and the puzzle of how come benzene was where it was when the underground storage tanks were somewhere else. And the question of what really was held in those tanks and how many times the railroad cars carrying benzene spilled their whole cargo.
Our living treasures know some of these answers and for whatever reason have not been asked. I remember once in a while my dad would talk about his experiences in WWII, but he never told me about the death and dying he must have seen. He told me about the funny things that happened and the friends he made for life. Some whose lives were shortened there in the war.
This is what we have failed to do with our Goodrichers. I have broken free lately and asked several men who have told me about their work, what they did those days and what it was like. My latest to recollect was Louis "Red" Mathia, who has been the LEAD Agency Board President for almost our whole existence. He described his work, the heat, told some of the most tragic things he saw occur in the plant and went right into the fun and camaraderie that filled in around those times, that made our Goodrichers practically brothers for life.
I hope you will come to our next LEAD Agency meeting January 31, or come especially at 6:30 pm, when we want you to have a chance to meet our board President. Let's start these conversations by listening.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
Meet LEAD Agency's
Louis "Red" Mathia