My town, Middletown, New York, has about 50 tattoo parlors and no book stores. So as you might guess, Middletown folks are not, as a rule, highly educated, nor are they socially aware.
Unlike more affluent communities to the south and east, Middletown residents get dumped on in a variety of ways. And when they get dumped on, nobody speaks up to protect them.
That is until now.
Sprague Avenue has a few small businesses at one end, a long stretch of modest homes, and a 200,000 square foot chemical plant at the other end. This plant, Fleurchem, makes flavorings and aroma products, sells them domestically, and exports them around the world.
For decades, this plant, under current and previous ownership, has spewed tons of foul odors into the atmosphere. Some days, the odor travels for blocks.
If the wind picks up, it can travel for miles.
I started thinking, the smell is bad enough, but are these emissions laced with carcinogens? Will Sprague Avenue kids grow up to become cancer victims?
So I started doing some digging about Fleurchem on the Internet. Not sure yet about the carcinogens, but I came to find out that the plant was recently fined $420,000 for selling list 1 chemicals overseas without DEA permission. List 1 chemicals are chemicals that can be used in the making of illegal drugs. Hmmm, interesting.
According to the report, it was the highest fine of its kind ever levied by the federal government.
I found more information that was much more alarming. But I couldn’t substantiate it, so I cannot report on it at this time.
So I call Fleurchem. I asked the rep about the odor problem. She said ” I don’t smell nuthin”. I asked to speak to the CEO, but was informed that she was out of town.
I then went to the City Council meeting. Went to the podium and addressed the City Council members, and the mayor, and presented the facts as I knew them.
I asked if anyone had ever brought this problem up. A few heads nodded no, others did not respond.
I then asked if any of the council members had noticed the odors. All nodded no.
I told them that was pretty amazing that I was the only person who detected these odors.
The next day I decided to contact the aldermen who represented the Sprague Avenue part of town. The story changed dramatically.
Yes, there definitely was an odor problem coming from Fleurchem.
Yes, it has been going on for decades.
I asked why they did not acknowledge this at the previous night’s meeting. They told me they were reluctant to do so when the meetings were televised.
So much for the benefit of televised City Council meetings.
The alderman told me they were going to follow up on this issue, gather the facts, and get back to me.
I guess you can say we are at stage one in this process and I really don’t know what stage two or three or four look like.
As things happen, l will amend the story, and keep you updated.
Maybe, just maybe, Middletown can become a little bit better place to live.