Public Comment

More Questions To Ask Pac Steel

Friday September 15, 2006

The Daily Planet’s Sept. 12 article, “Pacific Steel Emission Reports Turned Over to Air District,” was missing several important facts. If you take a look at the article, PSC’s public relations firm is the most common source for information (and reminds us all of the questionable and sad transformation from public servant to public relations consultant for Dion Aroner and company) 

Here is what’s missing: 

1. There has been no comprehensive off-site testing of the air AND the particulate matter in the neighborhood surrounding PSC, even though the community has made requests to PSC, BAAQMD, and the city for years. 

2. There has been no study of the health impacts of living with such poor quality air in West Berkeley. No testing of workers. No testing of residents. No community survey. No data collection regarding birth defects, reproductive disorders, cancer rates, asthma, breathing disorders, immune disorders, etc. 

3. PSC continues to pump known carcinogens, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter into the air, unfiltered, untreated, and deadly, every single day they operate. Deadly! 

4. PSC has withheld data from BAAQMD and the public that would allow the community to measure the health risks of living near the factory. 

5. PSC would NEVER be allowed to operate the kind of dirty business they operate if they moved to the neighborhood today. Why should they be grandfathered in? 

Here is what the article got wrong. 

1. Public relations PSC spokesperson Jewel states “In reality, if you are driving a car you are emitting the same amount of these toxic substances.” That’s just bad science, wrong, and terribly misleading. Bad science, but very good PR. No normal car produces the same kinds and amounts of the toxic substances produced by PSC. If HER car is producing that stuff in those amounts, I hope she is using public transportation to shuttle back and forth to and from PSC. 

2. “When we first came up with the idea of the carbon absorption unit, we were not even aware that we were required to have a building permit for it. So we were not expecting any delays,” she said. That’s just plain goofy. Of course you need a permit to make a major change in the physical structure of your facility. PSC had added this equipment before, although it has been unsuccessful at eliminating the terrible odors. 

Here is what’s missing. 

1. When is PSC or their consultants going to admit that the air is terrible in the neighborhood, that PSC is a huge source of the problem, and that PSC will stop poisoning the air? 

2. When will BAAQMD or the city of Berkeley step up and begin to protect the residents and workers who have lived with this notorious pollution for decades? Is it because the neighborhood is relatively poor, or doesn’t “look” like the kind of people who matter? 

3. PSC has generated hundreds of air quality complaints from the community, but so little has been done to stop them? Who’s in bed with whom? Why are the people who can do something about it so afraid to speak up! Good jobs are important. Safe air is a matter of life and death. It is wrong to pretend we have to decide between them. Our community wants them both. 


Andrew Galpern is a Berkeley resident.