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Why DIAZ's Statement is Not Accurate

Rebuttal to Diaz 
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(The excerpted material presented below (read full article here) was written by some anonymous Diaz employees. Our rebuttal written in boldface.)
         
"A large source of opinion on this matter has come from a source portrayed as "a retired New York State certified chemist". The State of New York does not certify chemists. We believe this has deceived the public."
      
NY State certifies chemistry teachers. The "retired chemist" label was assigned by the news media. 
     
"As you may know, the Village of Holley gets some of our water from the wells on 
Glidden Road... Water from the Diaz facility does not flow towards these wells. Scientific research and evidence have shown that water from the Diaz facility has NOT threatened the 
drinking water in Holley."

Underground water and water-borne pollutants may migrate in virtually any direction. Just because testing has not YET shown that the water is contaminated does not mean that pollutants are not on their way.
         
"Illegal Operations"
"Contrary to what you have been told, Diaz does not operate illegally. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would shut down the plant immediately if we were guilty of any illegal operations. The strict guidelines for handling, transportation, and disposing of chemicals are rigidly followed by Diaz and all of its employees."

In 2001, EPA found Diaz guilty of improperly storing deadly bromine in excess of the legal limit. There was a penalty, but EPA did not "shut Diaz down."  There have been some 35 spills at Diaz. The NY State Attorney General has termed Diaz's activities as "abnormally dangerous," consisting of  "repeated illegal acts and persistent illegality" and has filed such in court. These are the words of the highest law enforcement authority in the State.

"It has been presented to the public that the January 5 incident resulted from a reactor explosion. The Attorney General has indicated that there have been many "Reactor Explosions". There has never been an exploded reactor at Diaz. However the words Reactor Explosion scare more people, and it looks better in the  press than "a safety disc released.""

The Attorney General is recognised as a reliable and unbiased source.  DIAZ is generally considered to have a vested interest in glossing over any illegal actions.
         
"Chemicals At The Facility"
"It has been stated that Diaz uses "huge" quantities of "cancer causing" Benzene; 1,2 dichloroethane; and 1,2 dibromomethane. The first thing that any chemist would notice about this statement is the fact that 1,2 dibromomethane does not exist. There is no such compound." 

Thank you for spotting the typo, which was an extra "m."

"If we assume that the compound which is meant here is 1,2 dibromoethane; Diaz has not isolated this compound in over ten years." 

"Isolated" is a smokescreen word. The most recent EPA statistics available are for 1999.  That year, DIAZ released 10 pounds of 1,2 dibromoethane into the air. There would have been plenty more before 1999.

"The compound 1,2 dichloroethane has not been received at Diaz in over three years, and is not an OSHA listed carcinogen." 

The most recent EPA statistics available are for 1999.  That year, DIAZ released 500 pounds of 1,2 dichloroethane into the air. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, like carbon tetrachloride, are nasty substances and widely considered to be carcinogenic.

"Diaz has not received benzene in over three years." 

DIAZ has been operating for 28 years, and the soil under DIAZ's buildings is loaded with benzene compounds.

"Some have mentioned the use of Sodium Hydroxide at the Diaz facility, which has been referred to as "Drano". Diaz receives about one truck per month of this chemical. This chemical is an ingredient in "Drano", and is also an essential ingredient in rayon, cellophane, hand soap, detergents, and paper."

That "one truck a month" is a huge chemical tanker tractor-trailer truck, loaded with tons of highly concentrated sodium hydroxide.  It comes right down village streets, past houses and yards, and turns left (down an even narrower street) at a major school bus stop.

"Diaz Employees"
"Neither Diaz employees or their loved ones are "chemically soaked" as has been 
stated. Employees have extremely safe work practices and are given the knowledge to understand the fallacy of this statement. As a whole, chemical employees are more attuned to the environmental impacts of industry than most workers. Diaz has a rigid and well documented ongoing training program. Our operators receive training in math, chemistry, and plant operations. Each employee takes a great deal of pride in his job knowledge and performance."

The January 5, 2002 spill that spewed chemicals all over a street, and was smelled 12 MILES away, was caused by "operator error," say DIAZ's own press releases. But it was probably not the fault of the worker, as DIAZ Chemical is one of the 683 most dangerous places to work in New York State. (New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) 275 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001 (tel: 212-627-3900; email: nycosh@nycosh.org

"Diaz employees also own part of the company. Two of the most difficult days for us have been when we had to say goodbye to many of our fellow employees. Diaz, or the employees of Diaz, are not an enemy of the community, we are part of the community."
            
Why did DIAZ lay off 40 percent of their employees if they care so much about the community? And, who made that decision, if the employees REALLY own the company in any significant way?

"Attempts to move forward with cleanup efforts have been hampered by litigation." 

No company that sprays a street with smelly chemicals that drives people out of their homes, ruins their clothes, ruins their paint on their houses AND EVEN ON THEIR CARS, can reasonably expect to avert a lawsuit. In addition to those on the most affected street, some 60 OTHER families are suing DIAZ as well.

"State organizations such as the DEC and the Health Department have been working with Diaz and have been ready to do a cleanup as early as two weeks after the incident. The lack of cooperation with other state agencies, and some of the effected residents; has drastically slowed chances for cleanup efforts to begin."

DIAZ's getting rid of 40 percent of its workers did nothing to speed the cleanup process.  Those workers could have a job right now: cleaning up the DIAZ plant.  The DEC thinks it will take DIAZ 30 years to do the job, and that does not include cleaning under the buildings, where DEC says 75% of the chemical pollution is to be found. There's plenty of work to do RIGHT NOW.

"The important issue here is a fast, and effective cleanup. Diaz employees and the residents of Holley are equally interested in this issue. To convey your interest in the quickest, most effective cleanup effort possible; and to support our continuing efforts, the following people should be contacted."         
         
As long as DIAZ is supervised and thoroughly policed, yes.

Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
Peter Lehner, Assistant Attorney General, Environmental Bureau
Sen. George Maziarz
Hon. John LaFalce
Charles Nesbitt
Andrew Lucyszyn, Director, Environmental Health, Orleans County Health Dept.

"If these people continue to neglect to work toward a solution to this issue, Diaz may not be here to complete our cleanup efforts."

That is a not-very-well-veiled threat.  It does not jive at all with their next "warm and fuzzy" statement:

"We hope that our views will establish a greater sense of community among the village residents including Diaz employees. We recognize the need to work together towards our common goal, and welcome questions about statements that might be made about Diaz which are designed to frighten you. We firmly believe in the safety of the community and wish to extend a helping hand as your friends of many years. We hope that this issue will not effect that friendship. Thank you."

That's "affect," folks.  After all, you found our typo, so we'll help you with your grammar.  Have a nice day!

(End of Diaz's material)

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Dr. Andrew Saul

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