“Water. That’s what attracts people to Hot Springs. People have used these hot springs for more than two hundred years to treat illnesses and to relax” boasts the Hot Springs National Park website. The City of Hot Springs and its surrounding region, enjoy tourists year round in numbers upwards of hundreds of thousands. They come for the thermal waters, mountainous terrain, natural environment, and spa treatments from all over the world and America. The mantra for marketing Arkansas is The Natural State, but how “natural” is it? A visit to our tourism website finds a promotion of the lakes, rivers and streams of Arkansas tempting tourists to enjoy our “prized possessions”. But, how natural and clean are these “prized possessions”? And, who is falling down on the job to keep them natural and clean?
Do you really want to drink, swim or bathe in this? Tell me after you watch it!
Imagine yourself a “tourist a” from Texas. You bring your wife and kids up to camp, swim and fish at Lake Catherine. A week in the wilderness with fresh, fried fish cooked on your open fire, you and the little wife decide to stop by to visit Cousin Fred. You heard that Cousin Fred has been having cancer treatments and is nearing his last leg. You will lift his spirits bringing your kids by to play with his in the back yard next to Wilson Creek and Wilson Bay (streams to Lake Catherine). Besides, this may be the last time the two of you see each other as Cousin Fred has been battling this cancer for years. After a couple of hours of reminiscing with Cousin Fred, you holler out back toward the woods for the kids to come in and say goodbyes. Cousin Fred takes one look at his and your kids dripping from the waist down in red, slimy sludge (acid mine drainage), then he yells at his wife “Call The HazmatTeam”!
This analogy of Cousin Fred is not hitting too far from home for the folks living around Malvern Avenue and Indian Springs Creek in Hot Springs, Arkansas. UMETCO/Union Carbide/Dow Chemical, as well as other industries, have been operating behind “fences”for decades. What is taking place behind those “fences” is difficult at best to discover. We do know that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to be keeping our rivers, streams and lakes free from toxic, carcinogenic sludge(acid mine drainage). That’s what we pay our tax dollars to have them do, yet, what does it take to get them to do their job? Denise Parkinson and C Strom, Co-Founders of Save Our Streams (S.O.S.)!!! http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=116878578369086&v=wallmet this year at a UMETCO/Union Carbide/Dow Chemical public informational meeting in Hot Springs. What some attendees felt was nothing but a propaganda effort on behalf of UMETCO, Strom and Parkinson saw as a call to action. Strom stated, “Numerous groups have tried to prevent the destruction of our aquifers and streams over the years, but, UMETCO keeps getting away with repeat violations.” Simply put, UMETCO is hiding behind the “fences” of bureaucracy.
UMETCO is listed as a mine reclamation site with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality/ ADEQ. Doing business as Wilson Mines, UMETCO has over ten million tons of mining waste and sludge moved to that site. Vanadium mining started at that site in the 1960′s. For the history: http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=5915.
Parkinson states, “I’ve met several people suffering health effects, but, mainly want the State Department of Health to launch an investigative study of a ‘cancer cluster’ in a cul-de-sac adjacent tothe UMETCO landfill”. How safe is the water in your neck of Arkansas? Do you want to know what is going to be ingested when you turn on the faucet or fry up fish you caught in your local Arkansas stream, lake or river? Visit the ADEQ website here: http://www.adeq.state.ar.us/home/pdssql/pds.aspfor a list of violations by UMETCO…type under the facility name UMETCO and press search. You can also change the name in the search engine to an operation of industry in your part of the state. See if they list violations as the ADEQ lists for UMETCO here in Hot Springs. Listing of the violations is just one portion of ADEQ responsibilites while stopping the violation should be the priority effort.
Read through the discussion notes on the Facebook page for Save Our Streams (S.O.S.)!!! here for detailed reports and letters:
UMETCO is seeking to change the water quality criterion as reported in this news story in September 2010:
We, The Natural State residents have to stop them now. Do we really want major corporations (Dow Chemicals) telling Arkansans what our water quality standards should be? Get your answers to “natural or not where the water is hot” and then make a call or write to help folks out in Hot Springs at these numbers:
Marks, Teresa, ADEQ Director– (501)682-0959, email@example.com
Patricia Goff, Commission Secretary–(501) 682-7890, firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor’s Office–(501) 682-2345, email@example.com
Save Our Streams (S.O.S.)!!! needs you to pitch in and help save the lives of the present and future generations. Our tourism industry, namely our environment, needs cleaning before Hot Springs makes it on the list for Sanjay Gupta’s next “Toxic America”. UMETCO/Union Carbide/Dow Chemical or any other industry around Hot Springs National Park (and Arkansas) must clean up and remove their toxicity. Our “prized possessions” in this natural state aren’t that natural anymore. Folks are getting pretty fed up with lack of action from people in positions of authority to force a clean up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sanjay down here before we know it. Perhaps he can get them to clean it up if the powers in Little Rock or the EPA refuse to slam the hammer down and force UMETCO out! In the meantime, don’t purchase any lemonade from the stands on Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs or around Lake Catherine. For that matter, I wouldn’t recommend eating the fish either. You might want to keep your kids from swimming in those waters until you know you won’t need HAZMAT to clean them up. Just saying, don’t let big corporations dictate our water quality standards here in Arkansas!
ARDem here: Added the video embed to the post. Kudos to LaVoix on her first post!