Several months ago, I was very pleased to learn that the city of Salem was thinking of passing ordinances to protect residents if drilling happens in the city. My last letter to the editor stated that I'd rather not have drilling in the city of Salem - especially around the area contaminated by the Nease Chemical Plant. My stance on this hasn't changed.
I am concerned about possible air and water contamination - especially the effects on the elderly, and the people - including myself - who already have health issues. It has been documented that people who live Columbiana County have higher rates of cancer than people in the rest of the state. We who live in northern Columbiana County know about Nease Chemical and the Myrex contamination of Beaver Creek. In Southern Columbiana County, residents of East Liverpool also have high rates of cancer and neurological conditions. East Liverpool is surrounded by hazardous waste facilities such as the WTI hazardous waste incinerator and the Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment lake.
People said Nease, WTI and others would generate revenue for communities - and I am sure they did. But today, the people who may have gotten sick from exposure to dangerous chemicals aren't thinking about that money. Now they probably wish their government officials had done their homework before it was too late.
I don't think the proposed ordinances are a silver bullet. It's my understanding that the ordinances would raise money from fees on drilling and that money will fund a system to monitor the air and water. I wish we had a system like this in place back when Nease was operating. Maybe then, we would have been informed and could have prevented people from getting sick.
Those of us with grandchildren growing up here in Salem should protect them and leave them with a safe and healthy community. If the drilling must go through, I'd like it to happen responsibly. I applaud the city council for beginning to take action and I hope it continues. I also hope Salem residents begin to get more involved in this issue and show our elected officials that we care about the future of this city.