Friday, July 20, 2007

Miami Herald Opinion Page: Missing In Action on rock mining, by gimleteye

It has been over a week since the Miami Herald reported on the ruling by Judge William Hoeveler on the Lake Belt rock mining case.

And still no mention, no position, no heart-felt mea culpa from a newspaper that vastly under-reported the public health threats caused to more than a million residents of Miami Dade County because of the power and influence of one industry: rock mining.

The facts are devastating, but don't take my word. Read it yourself:

The bottom line from my point of view is, as follows:

The majority of your elected county commissioners (especially the principal defenders of the rock mining industry; Joe Martinez, Pepe Diaz, and Natacha Seijas), your public agencies (especially Miami Dade Water and Sewer and DERM), and your federal officials (especially the US Army Corps of Engineers) allowed cancer causing substances to infiltrate your drinking water supply, due to the corrupting influence of a single industry and its lobbyists: rock mining in West Dade.

Every single health care professional, every person concerned about cancer, should read this ruling and call The Miami Herald:

Ask your city's only daily newspaper why there has been no opinion offered, on for instance, the following:

Dr. Debra Huffman testified as an expert witness for the plaintiffs. Huffman has considerable experience in threats to public health from contaminated drinking water, including testimony on a 1993 Wisconsin incident where pathogens in drinking water killed more than one hundred people and caused illness in another 400,000.

From the Hoeveler ruling, page 74, Dr. Debra Huffman, said of Miami Dade County, that despite all her professional experience: "[T]his is the first place that I have been to, having known all of what I have .... First time in my life that I looked at the tap water and drank my bottled water when I brushed my teeth this morning. I'm embarrassed to say that .... I've actually limited my consumption of the drinking water here in Miami-Dade County since I've been here, and I was very uncomfortable .... I travel throughout the country and I listen to people complain very often about the taste of their drinking water, the odor of their drinking water .... And aside from taste and odor issues, I think most utilities work very hard to provide a safe product. . . . And it struck me as being the first time - that I really took some pause in a hotel about drinking the tap water."

("The Court found Dr. Huffman's testimony to be very credible, particularly in light of her nearly two decades of experience studying pathogens and contamination of drinking water sources in her laboratory at the University of South Florida. Dr. Huffman has eighteen years' experience working with cryptosporidium and giardia and has published a number of book chapters and peer-reviewed articles related to these pathogens. Dr. Huffman has worked for the EPA to develop test protocols for drinking water and has studied the "fate and transport," i.e., the survival and movement of pathogens under certain conditions, in aquifers throughout Florida. Tr. 250-53. Indeed, Dr. Huffman was contacted earlier by counsel for Intervenors who apparently was interested in "pursuing [her] opinions" and possibly hiring her as an expert witness. Tr. 364")

Don't take my word for it: read it yourself.

Ask The Miami Herald at 305-376-2052 why there has been no opinion writting about the rock mining case.

Or not, if you don't care what is in your drinking water.

At the very minimum, The Miami Herald should publicly thank Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and National Parks Conservation Association and their fine attorneys, without whom none of this information would ever have been made public.

(And where is Upton Sinclair, when we need him so desperately?)


Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that rock mining is amongst the many things ignored by the Miami Herald...don't they realize it's affecting their children's drinking water too???

Anonymous said...

Is there a novelist in the house?
I didn’t find Upton Sinclair readable when I tried him in 10th grade, maybe he deserves a second look. Alas, the novel is not the contemporary art form of either outrage or entertainment. Tom Wolfe concedes reality today is stranger than any credible fiction. He took on the Reagan 80s with their “masters of the universe” stockbrokers and “social x-rays” and “lemon tarts” wives hemorrhaging money in “Bonfire of the Vanities.” That was fun and brought a lot of social currents together. The movie, which I didn’t see, didn’t do as well. (Mick Jagger, miffed again, wasn’t the basis of “You’re so Vain” and didn’t get to play the journalist role)
If there were to be a story line for Miami it would need adaptability to some variation of the screen. (Few here read, though kudos to Books and Books for existing and even expanding). A series? (“Miami Vice” title is taken, “Miami Spice,” already a cookbook and festival, maybe not copy written), a telanovella? Should it be dramatic or lunatic, a la Seinfeld? Trollope, an aficionado of the genre, advises character over plot, though he is the master of the intersecting story line. I’ll get back to you when I finish, reading, the Barchester series (scheduled completion 2010). Then I’ll take a look at the DVD of the BBC adaptation.

gimleteye said...

Good question. Certainly, the Herald's mind is made up, as to whose side it is on: that would be the business of growth.

Like business executives they are comfortable with, newspaper exectives likely see environmental groups that sue as a necessary nuisance.

Like business, newspaper executives must feel that government agencies are doing the best they can, within the regulatory framework of local, state and national laws.

Florida papers like the St. Pete Times are not so blase about those assumptions, which I guess may be part of the Herald executive office thinking.

It takes a lot of work--which newspapers used to do--to peel the layers of misdirection that agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers engage in: for instance, the Hoeveler ruling notes that agency websites that should have had accurate details on the rock mining / Lake Belt issue were filled with inaccuracies and omissions.

The agencies have big budgets and big bureaucracies to manage their information and image and may even seem to be more powerful than the government that is supposed to regulate them.

It is hard to reach any other conclusion, from the massively researched opinion of the Federal Court in the rock mining case.

That is why the federal court especially is an important forum to get facts: witnesses under deposition risk their freedom if they lie.

But it no excuse for not getting the stories out and for the editorial board of The Miami Herald to sit on its hands when it has an explosive ruling simmering away.

Anonymous said...

All those blue-green 60 ft deep rock mine "lakes" are poison pits breeding cyanotoxins, microcystin and cylindrospermopsin. These algaes and cyanobacterias can give you nerve and liver damage. They become part of the drinking water. We all see that the Biscayne aquifer is being ravaged by dynamite and draglines. Algae grows when water is exposed to sunlight.
Algae and their toxins are currently unregulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
It has to stop. All of the mines should be closed. Limerock can be hauled from other places that are not in wetlands or in wellfields, or directly in the aquifer.

Anonymous said...

TheRe is a sunshine notice posted on the county commission web calendar that says that Commissioner Seijas and Com. Sorenson are meeting to discuss environmental issues this month. It is an open meeting, since it is being sunshined.

Mensa said...

There is no question but that the herald is more worried about losing advertisers that about we common folk. Perhaps if we all dropped our subscriptions at one time and did not buy the paper at stands, they might realize that advertisers also need people to read their crap.

Anonymous said...

WOW, this is really terrible. We are becoming more like a third world country every day, and now the drinking water is not safe to consume. Forget the Herald write the New York Times, they love to scoop the Herald right in their backyard. Someone call that Congressman from CO running for president, he will love this too but for the wrong reasons. We need to do everything we can so that they cant get away with this.

Larry Thorson said...

Thanks so much for bringing this up. I was shocked when I read this in the Herald but then got too busy to try to raise a ruckus. Will start anew.