I am often approached by people inquiring about my research on the Northport Project. Although hundreds have said such kind things and been such a help, many are somewhat less than “kind”, having decided that I must be looking to financially gain something from my work. Therefore, just to set the record straight to those who may not be participating in the study because of this incorrect preconception; I am not personally gaining anything FINANCIAL from this, nor will I.
That being said, I would like to explain the goals of the Northport Project.
Goals and Intentions
One goal is to bring attention to the fact that; not only did both the United States and Canadian Government agencies allow Teck (a Canadian Lead & Zinc smelter) to release massive amounts of heavy metal toxins into the air and directly into the Columbia River for decades, they never warned any of the small communities just down river from the smelter – worse yet they did research and testing and knew the levels were unsafe.
These agencies need to be held accountable for what they are NOT doing. By bringing attention to their past actions, or lack of actions, it will make it easier to make sure there is some accountability in the future.
**I do want to mention that the recent participation and work being done by the Washington Dpt. of Ecology(specifically Chuck Gruenfelder) and the EPA (in large part due to project manager Helen Bottcher ) has been very impressive, the Black Sand Beach clean up is a perfect example of this. They are doing the quality work and including the community in all they are working on and keeping them updated on everything. I would like to personally thank both of them for this.
However, the WA Dpt. of Health, the ATSDR, and the CDC continues to shuffle their feet, refusing to do anything to protect or warn local residents other than fish advisories they issue when necessary. The small amount of work they are doing is all based on the safety of visitors to the area, or recreational use of the area. Although this information is extremely important, the DOH is using it as a loop hole. They can “honestly” say if visitors are exposed to our area for 35 days out of the year they will “most likely” be safe, basically they probably won’t get one of the many health issues three generations of Northport residents have had to endure. Although the DOH will be quick to tell you there is no way to link the tons upon tons of toxins Northport residents were and are still chronically exposed to, through multiple routes of exposure, to the absurd amount of similar diseases and illnesses they all share.
- Another goal is to get more epidemiological studies done on health issues, such as ulcerative colitis, and other illnesses that have no known cause or triggers. With the participation of community members who’s lives and health were impacted (without their knowledge) could now turn around and use the unfortunate health problems they suffer with daily to impact future generations in a positive way. Their participation in these studies can lead to information that can provide ways to avoid getting some of the illnesses, better medication and treatments for them, and the best case scenario being that these studies will eventually lead to finding cures for some of them!
- The main goal of the project is to give the children and residents in the area the information and warnings that the DOH should have done since they became aware of the situation. If they had maybe the 20+ children diagnosed with ulcerative colitis since could have been avoided and they would not have to suffer with a disease that greatly impacts the quality of their life. I know as I watched my father suffer through it until they finally had no choice but to remove his large intestine and colon.
**My entire family has been impacted, health wise, from this. Again, I am not looking for Teck to write us a check. First of all, there is not enough money in the world to repay my family or any of the families for the pain they have caused and the people’s lives that were cut short because of their negligence. What I want is to make Teck aware of what these people have endured, perhaps if they hear these heartbreaking stories they will stop looking at the people at the receiving end of their toxic releases as statistics.
- Another goal is to discuss the possibility of Teck extending a lifetime offer of free annual health screenings and heavy metal testing to residents of Northport and the other communities and tribes along the river. So many lives could be saved if the similar cancers all being found in these communities were caught early.
Please take a moment and read the post of the summary of the health questionnaires we have received back from past and current Northport residents so far, the results are almost unbelievable and defiantly undeniable that there is a real issue. I hope you will then read the history of Northport page I wrote. Although somewhat lengthy, they might better explain why I am fighting so hard for Northport and its residents.
Organizations and Individuals Responsible for Positive Changes & Progress Made
Also, I have only been involved with this since 2008. So many people have been fighting this fight for decades. The Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC), the different tribes along the river and at Lake Roosevelt (if not for the members of the Pakootas Tribe none of the current work being done would have ever happened), as well as many individual residents, these are by far not all of the people who have put countless years and hours into this.
I have only helped them, somewhat, due to my talent for being relentlessly annoying. Maybe if I talk long enough and loud enough someone, who can help change the course of everything, will hear.
PROGRESS OF THE PROJECT
Currently a group of doctors whom work with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA.org) just received funding to do an epidemiological study of ulcerative colitis cases diagnosed in past and present Northport residents. I contacted them over a year ago because I became a member of the CCFA to support a local boy who was raising money to go to a special summer camp for kids with ulcerative colitis. The mother of this boy contacted me 2 years ago, just as I was about to give up on the Northport Project (after hitting so many brick walls). If it weren’t for her e-mail I would very probably given up then. If it weren’t for the wonderful opportunity the CCFA offers through the camps for children I might not have took a chance in e-mailing the doctors listed on their site, (which specifically says on the website that e-mail requests for studies would not be read or considered. Only the lengthy forms submitted would be looked at for possible consideration.) Everybody’s voice makes a difference; if we get enough of them to talk together we cannot be ignored.
Lend Your Voice…
If you have a person l story of how you, any or all of your family members, or anyone you know has been impacted from this please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to eventually combine all the stories and correspondences I have collected into a book.
(Proceeds of any book sales would go to the town – in case you were wondering. 🙂 )