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The Observer: Facts Or Fiction


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Guest Guest 99

The reporting in The Observer has reached an all time low this week. The scare tactic story about chemical plants and nuclear plants has so many inaccuracies and outright misinformation that it wreaks of the Hudson Press all over again.

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Guest Guest 99
Before reaching a decision on the Observer,  check out the stories and links at

http://www.kearnyontheweb.com/environment.html

KOTW

As a member of the vast media community, a newspapers has a responsibility to the public to disseminate accurate information in a timely manner. Because it is my opinion that our local newpaper did not do this, I stand by my statement.

Fact: Indian Point is 35 miles outside Times Square, not "just 22 miles from Manhattan", putting Kearny well out of the "catastrophic cloud of radioactive gas".

Fact: Nuclear power plants have a life expectancy of 40 years, not the 20-30 quoted.

Fact: Chernobyl was not due to a terrorist attack. Why the comparison?

Fact: Rick Hind visited the Kuehne site in May 2003. That's 18 montha ago. What's the relevence of reporting it now?

Fact: Hind has no background in security planning.

Fact: Capt. Bill Sheehan is not a member of the NJ Meadowlands Commission. He is a member of the Meadowland Trust.

Fact: Capt. Sheehan is not a member of the Coast Guard. He is a Coast Guard certified boat captain.

Although the last two facts appear to be minor in nature, they simple add to the inaccuracy of the reporting. Yet, with four reporters involved in the article, it appears obvious that no local phone call was made and the errors got through. It makes one wonder what other statements and facts were taken at face value with no investigating.

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Was there any inaccuracies on their reporting on Kuehne. Kuehne is a hazard that needs to be addressed. The chemical industry cannot police itself and local police (being paid by taxpayers) should not be providing security for a private company making millions of dollars per year selling its chemicals. It is clear that the plant even after 9/11 was unsecure even to a common thief. The video on the public citizen website proves that. I find it interesting that Senator Corzine wants better protection and our local elected officials have been silent on the issue. Have they been paid off? McGreevey and Corzine butted heads on this issue. Hopefully our local elected officials will push our new Governor to make some real changes to the way the plant operates (retrofit it so it operates like their other plant=safer not some much chemical on hand in a tank) rather than cosmetic changes dependent on local police and barriers for protection.

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Also, check out the story at

http://www.govexec.com/features/0203/0203s2.htm

And on an overcast September afternoon in South Kearny, N.J., Frank and Rosa Ferreira parked their white Volvo across the street from the Kuehne Chemical plant on Hackensack Avenue. Armed with a handheld video camera, the two environmental activists wandered around the perimeter capturing images of the plant's guard gates and security fence. They zoomed in on large storage tanks labeled "sodium hydrochloride" in bold black letters.

A panoramic view of the fence shows security weaknesses in certain areas, particularly at three entrance and exit gates, which are loosely held closed by chains. No padlocks are noticeable. Despite scanning a couple hundred yards of fence, the Ferreiras didn't pick up any security personnel on the 20-minute video, which they posted on their Web site, www.publiccitizenonline.com. Two days later, on Sept. 5, 2002, the Ferreiras returned. Again, they photographed large chemical storage containers and idle tanker trucks sitting a few feet away from the fence. And again, no security personnel approached the couple.

Driving along the Pulaski Skyway, Frank Ferreira noticed another weakness at the facility: It sits directly underneath the 1.3-mile bridge connecting Jersey City to Newark. The plant, which produces chlorine and bleach for cities along the Eastern seaboard, is a mere three miles from Newark International Airport and five miles from Lower Manhattan. It wouldn't take much, Ferreira says, for someone to stop on the skyway and penetrate the storage tanks using a rifle or other weapon.

"A few days before we went down there, we saw an article in our local paper that Greenpeace was looking at the safety of the chemical industry," Ferreira recalls. "They focused on the Kuehne plant. The article talked about documents filed with the Environmental Protection Agency showing that a chemical release could threaten the lives of 12 million people in a 16-mile radius. We went down there expecting to see something like Fort Knox - something you couldn't penetrate." He was wrong. "It was like a ghost town. . . . Once we finished taping, I turned to my wife and said, 'There is something terribly wrong here.' "

If relatively harmless environmental activists, such as the Ferreiras and West, as well as an intrepid reporter like Prine, can easily penetrate plant security, imagine what ruthless terrorists could do. Yet little has been done since the Sept. 11 attacks to shore up defenses at the nation's more than 1,000 chemical facilities.

The chemical industry is in the early stages of assessing its vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, there is a fair amount of uncertainty about how - and even which - federal agencies can prevent a catastrophic event. A bill to make the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for chemical plant security was shot down last year in Congress when the industry objected. Now lawmakers are poised to take a second crack at legislation to clarify jurisdiction.

and the video half way down the page at www.publiccitizenonline.com

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