The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 27, 2013

We don't know

Daily Item

---- — I want to make sure that the public understands that I am not stating that the Susquehanna River is not safe nor am I stating that the river is safe, the truth is the correct answer to either question is, we don't know.

Most people I talk to and many reading my previous letter are not ready to rally around bees, bats or bass. What they want to know is this: Is the river safe for my children and I? Again, the truthful answer is, we don't know.

We do know the sediment in the river contains many heavy metal contaminants such as lead, mercury and zinc, just to name a few. We also know the river water contains chemical compounds from pesticides, insecticides, pharmaceutical waste and other industrial and urban source pollutants.

What we don't know are the numbers or types of all the various chemical compounds in the river and their possible harmful affects to mammals, birds and humans further up the food chain from bees, bats and bass. Not only do those three represent the canary in the river valley, they represent three different types of canaries.

As for me, "we don't know" is not a satisfactory answer to the question. Isn't it time we demand a comprehensive low flow scientific analysis of the main stem of the Susquehanna River, South of the power dam at Hummels Wharf so we can establish a baseline study of what is in the river, a baseline from which future generations could determine if the river is improving or declining in water quality? We have been able to spend tens of millions of dollars on an inflatable dam, Sunbury riverfront, a State Park and marina and yet we cannot fund a study to determine if the focus of our recreational resource, is safe or not?

Currently such studies have the same priority as the proposed Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway. Should we not demand our state and local officials provide us with an answer to our question is the river safe, and demand that the answer be based on sound scientific study and not political assumption? If DEP and other officials tell you, "don't worry the river is safe," ask for a copy of the scientific study that declared it safe.

Jim Charles,