super-fun super-fundPosted: January 5, 2013
When I was young we lived near a stream called Fields Brook and the Ashtabula river it fed. Ashtabula was the Indian word for “river of many fish” and adults said once Fields Brook abounded with trout and bass and pike. By the time I was a teenager, we would run over the bridge that crossed Fields Brook because it was so foul smelling it scared us and made us cough and hack. When we swam down river which we often did, we would get all sorts of rashes. Now it is a super-fund site and I have cancer. Go figure.
One sunny Ohio summer day, Donnie and I, about thirteen or so, floated inner tubes about three miles down the river to where it fed into Lake Erie. We splashed and kicked under the big trestle bridge, meandering past trees and steep banks. We paddled past the yacht club with cruisers and sailboats with tall proud masts that chimed in the light breeze. As we neared the drawbridge which would slowly rise for the big cargo ships that came off Erie for the docks a cruiser captain hailed us. “Are you kids crazy?” Yeah, I guess we were.
I was back there a few years ago and now it runs clear and there is grass growing near Fields Brook. Some say it cannot be dredged because the mud is so full of PCB’s and heavy metals. They laid down a gravel and concrete base so the water runs above the poisonous soil.
Direct causal relationships are rarely proven, and I don’t really blame that stream for my cancer. It was just a beautiful place transformed to a dead grey steaming bubbling landscape worthy of an apocalypse movie. It may never be wholly recovered.
Some things are too precious to waste.