In response to this disclosure, I sent a letter to the editors of a number of newspapers around the Chicago area. Though the letter was not published, I would like to share it with you now:
The recent revelation that the residents of Crestwood have been exposed to harmful chemicals in their drinking water for over twenty years highlights an all-too-present problem. Whether it is through ignorance or indifference, officials at every level of government have been under-reacting to environmental concerns that have the potential to cause serious harm to individuals and communities.
Though the case in Crestwood is more dramatic and immediately dangerous than most environmental issues, the lack of accurate and clear public information is an unsettling trend. I believe that government officials who hold information regarding environmental hazards from the public should have to answer for their dereliction of duty. When knowing disregard for human health and safety is carried out by individuals or corporations they pay heavy prices for their actions through large fines and, in severe cases, possible imprisonment. Government officials who put the community in equally dangerous positions by withholding information from the public or regulatory agencies should be held similarly accountable for their actions.
Governor Quinn has taken quick action in Crestwood, calling for an investigation into possible improprieties and the Illinois Attorney General’s office is looking into the matter, but the underlying issues still remain. Until we begin assigning true accountability to the people who hold this vital public information, until we begin making clear statements that environmental dangers should always be public knowledge, nothing will be done and we will be left with no recourse, just a blind hope for honesty.