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Twenty years ago, geologist Mark Crawford came out with his Toxic Waste Sites: An Encyclopedia of Endangered America, listing the 1300 Superfund sites that — as the worst pollution locations in the U.S.A. — collectively form the National Priorities List (NPL). Created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act, the NPL has not been addressed adequately to date, to put it mildly, making the notion of America being able to be “great” for the vast majority of folks a great… joke.

It’s a very sick joke because at least one in ten citizens live within ten miles of those highly hazardous sites in this “great” country of ours. And to drive home, more specifically, exactly how sick the joke is, I direct you to a short list of 49 sites in the Fresno area of California, where you’ll find many officially active locations spotlighted, two of which have the NPL designation. One of the many problems faced by residents of that realm is that they have no basis for trusting the designations provided; so even the “archived” sites — supposedly taken care of — cannot be trusted. This is not talked about in polite official circles. Hence, nowhere.

Please note, additionally, that the Atlas Asbestos Mine, one of twenty pages worth of toxic sites listed for California in Crawford’s tome, does not even appear on any of the pages which the link directly above leads to; there are — on average — four such sites on each of those twenty pages, and the same is true for a great number of those hazardous locations. Spots where innocent citizens are studying, playing, working, recreating, living, etc. in Fresno County.

What’s going on? Well, it’s too easy to make the point that those who are paid to look out for public health are not doing so. The scorecard on that has been in quite some time now. What’s REALLY going on, though, is that citizens — informed about these abominations — are not fulfilling their role as proactive concerned citizens. They are not pressuring politicians and others properly, if at all, as required in a democracy. Not truly involved in civic engagement.

I had high hopes for carving out significant environmental inroads in nearby Stockton — situated in the same Central Valley as Fresno — where I expected to relocate to recently. But things haven’t gone differently than they did when I confronted educators from all around the country a few years ago about the NPL sites in their communities.

The point is that I’m addressing very serious issues here, and everyone who could have a shot at making a difference — parents, educators, students et alia — seems to be out to lunch.

I wonder what’s being served at their table — seemingly reserved for ostriches — which is good enough to pay for with their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Maybe some comedian at the head of their costly table is telling really good sick jokes and/or they’re taking one of those stupefying drugs which seem to be proliferating in society, getting more popular by the day in this great country of ours.

Richard Martin Oxman can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com.

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