In the sprawling text of an article online, a gruesome snapshot of my hometown is on display. No, this is not how I would usually introduce a complete stranger to the city that raised me, but it’s a story that hit so close to home (literally) that I felt compelled to share. Although not from a traditional news source and now outdated, the story illustrates just how real the projects I have worked on in the Voinovich School are.
While working with the Energy and Environment team, I was charged with several tasks related to toxic cleanup. From municipal waste to nuclear factory, I was amazed again and again at our ability as a community to consistently choose convenience over conscience and finances over the future. Thanks to one shocking article, I realize that the same is true of my hometown in Lorain County. Granted, if it weren’t for the foolishness of companies forty years ago who chose to dump their waste in unhealthy ways, programs like those the Voinovich School runs would be unnecessary and hundreds of researchers, clean-up crews, and specialists would have had to find employment elsewhere. I’d be willing to bet a good number of those people would have been willing to do that, if it meant that citizens would not suffer the long-term health and property damage they now endure.
My question for you is: When did we decide as a nation that cautious is not cool? In other countries, the burden is on companies to prove that their new-fangled methods are not going to be harmful in any way. Here, it is the job of regulators and activist groups to prove harm, once it has occurred! From everything I have seen working at the Voinovich School and growing up involved in recycling initiatives, I know there are alternatives to these types of backwards policies. Unfortunately, nothing will change until something drastic happens. From the patterns of history repeating itself, we can only hope that the horrors to come do not hit our hometowns. It is really too bad that our long-term health and safety has been left to such a chance.