I am sharing here, a letter from friend Maura Stephens, journalist, environmentalist, and educator:
I hope you are enjoying springtime. I am finding it renewing and uplifting, most welcome feelings indeed. I have been crazy busy despite no longer having a paying job, and today is the opening day the Ithaca Fringe Festival (with a free party for the community at the Visitors Center on the Commons/Center Ithaca, 7-9 pm! Please come if you’re in the vicinity!).
But one encounter in the last couple months has given me new energy to push even more. The story is shocking, and I’m asking for your help in giving it a happier ending than it might be headed toward.
I’m writing on behalf of a young mother named Stella Renee Martin, who with her children lived in Palenville, NY, next door to a property whose owner is a licensed hauler of hazardous waste but whose property is licensed as a composting facility. Several years ago, after a number of unidentified trucks dumped loads of material on the property -- which also borders a protected wetland -- Stella Renee and her children began experiencing health problems. Her son had seizures with his eyes rolling back in his head, and uncontrollable tics and spasms. Stella Renee herself has faced multiple health issues. She has been diagnosed with cadmium poisoning and was forced to go on disability. Neighbors have also been made sick. Stella Renee was advised by medical practitioners to abandon her home, which she did last summer. She now lives in a rented home in the same town.
Stella Renee has done major investigating of this issue, discovering that the adjacent property was used as a dump for Hurricane Sandy debris hauled from Long Island. Both the landowner and a DEC representative confirmed this. Apparently there are laws against hazardous waste dumping in the Town of Catskill and Greene County. When Stella Renee has brought this up in town meetings, however, she has been accused of being crazy and otherwise harassed, intimidated, and silenced. The owner of the dump is related to several of the town leaders and apparently is being protected by them.
Stella Renee’s children, and she herself, are suffering mentally and physically. Yet she somehow perseveres, knowing that her children need her to be strong. Several of us are trying to help. Stella herself is hoping to help her neighbors who have been made ill but are too timid to speak out.
Stella Renee is very grateful for the help she’s finally been getting after going it alone for so long and feeling helpless to combat the powerful opposition (this has been a lonely five-year nightmare, even as she’s trying to keep her children safe and get herself and them the medical care they need).
We would appreciate any donation, no matter how small.
Please share this request with others. Thank you so very much.