I would like to correct Eric Barton's article about EPA Region 7's response to the ChemCentral fire.
Any evaluation of potential health risks must emphasize the role of exposure. The primary health threat from the fire would have been breathing the smoke. If there was no exposure, then there was no health risk, regardless of how potentially toxic a pollutant might be.
The plume of smoke rose to more than 2,000 feet before it began dispersing. It did not hover close to the ground except for an area immediately adjacent to the fire site, which was evacuated.
Barton implied that just a few EPA staff members responded to the emergency, that we relied on only five stationary air monitors for information, and that we could only sample for "smog"-type chemicals. In fact, the EPA deployed multiple teams of air-monitoring professionals, on-scene coordinators and contractor staff across the metropolitan area within two hours of the first visible smoke.
Through the night, we collected and reported multiple streams of data from the atmosphere around the city and the neighborhoods beneath the smoke plume. We did not find any contaminants that exceeded extremely protective health-based screening levels.
Barton questioned the EPA's decision to forgo wipe sampling. Chemicals are everywhere in our environment; wipe samples would have been necessary both before and after the fire to know if any chemicals detected were a result of the fire.
Barton also expressed concern that water used to fight the fire ran into the sewer system. We notified authorities with the sewage treatment plant. No toxic chemicals were detected in the discharge water.
EPA emergency responders are conscientious professionals. Every action they took was designed to protect human health and the environment.
John Askew, EPA Region 7
The travesty of Renaissance North, as far as I am concerned, includes a type of ecocide. Shortly after moving to KC, my husband and I discovered the wonderful oasis with a meandering creek near the old Maple Woods vet barn, and we went walking there often. We were some of the few to do so, though folks on three- and four-wheelers sped through on occasion. The natural area was close to town but was full of birds and animals, including deer, little green heron, great blue heron, osprey, kingfisher, fox (the biggest fox I've ever seen was down in the meadow below the new vet building, which hadn't been built yet), barred and horned owl, hawks, bluebirds and various snakes and butterflies. There also was a succession of wildflowers in season.
Coyote scat was often on the trails. The earth upon which all this life was thriving was scraped raw, down to the pebbles of rock when the development came in. I had to stop going; it was so upsetting. The destruction of that special spot was as though a human being I loved had died. I can't imagine what the few folks who remain feel, but depressed is a word that comes to mind.
That place figures prominently in a few of my poems. I didn't know that TIF funds had been involved until I read David Martin's story. Barnes sure took care of her buddies, didn't she?
Christina Pacosz, Kansas City, Missouri
Lumps of Coal
I appreciated Carolyn Szczepanski's article about Sunflower Electric in Holcomb, Kansas. I oppose the expansion of coal-burning plants for their dangerous, backward-moving environmental impacts, and I hope Gov. Sebelius will stop approval of Sunflower's pollution permit.
As a native western Kansan and fourth-generation Garden Citian (the town five miles east of the proposed plants), however, I want to offer this perspective: Some folks from my parts interpret opposition to the plant as another assault from eastern Kansas — which can be, at times, as ignorant about and dismissive of western Kansas as the rest of the country is of all of Kansas. Those west of Wichita are often stereotyped as a bunch of conservative, pale-skinned hicks. But keep in mind that Finney County (home of Holcomb) has a 22.7 percent foreign-born population, and 39.2 percent of its residents speak a non-English language. (Those figures are way above state averages, of course.)
Western Kansas Latino immigrants and Southeast Asian refugees may not be calling all the shots in economic development plans, but they do comprise a major part of the work force, make our state much more interesting and revitalize rural areas that would otherwise blow off the map. Local leaders have long been praised by researchers and other onlookers for their generally progressive response to the changing face of the region.
On coal, they are sorely misguided. But we who oppose Sunflower would do well to assure the other half of the state that we do care about its well-being and its sustainable future, and are not just looking down our clean-air-loving noses at it.
Megan Hope, Kansas City, Missouri
Thanks for the great article about Plush. I opened Korruption in the West Bottoms with dreams we could have nights like these. I have been blown away by all the great looks people have spent hours designing and creating, just to come out and sweat them off on the dance floor.
The reason I'm writing is that the article lists the start time as 11 p.m. Most nights the show either begins at 9 or 10, depending on how many acts Merc has booked for the show. It's not that big of a deal, but inevitably someone will come in angry that they've missed performers because they read in the Pitch the show started at 11.
Gary Dwyer, Kansas City, Missouri
Thank you so much for the nice review of my I-35 birthday party! Each year, I celebrate my favorite holiday and think "Wow. That's the best birthday ever." But this year, I know that my 35th was indeed my best birthday party ever. I'm so very fortunate to have a supreme circle of friends and well-wishers in this city that I love. I truly cherish that night and am glad to have a published review of it to include in my (shh) scrapbook.
Thanks for the love, Jen Chen.
PS: I don't recall seeing as many "tits" at my party but I could've been too busy making out to notice. You know how I can get.
PPS: Not to criticize, but of all the pictures you printed, you printed a photo of Ron Megee's dog, Atticus, instead of me — the guest of honor? Maybe that was on purpose, but for your sake (and mine) I prefer to think that it was just a glaring oversight.
David Wayne Reed, Kansas City, Missouri
On behalf of Billygoat Pornstar, I just wanted to say thank you for such a great article. It is a very nice thing to get a little respect. We have been playing music in this town for 15 years collectively. We started BGPS about a year ago and had a great run. All good things must come to an end; I am just glad we got to do it on our terms, and what a great night and a great way to go out!
Again, thank you very much!
Zack Kauffman, bass, Billygoat Pornstar, Olathe