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Ted's Top 10
Environmental issues in the valley that bear continued surveillance
SINCE TED SMITH MOVED TO THIS VALLEY nearly three decades ago, Santa Clara County's environmental woes have multiplied. Below are Smith's Top 10 ranking of toxic problems that are too troublesome for anyone to close their eyes to.
- Water quality: Groundwater has been fouled at 186 sites across the county. Contamination has been found to have leaked into 20 private wells, and 900 leaking fuel tanks have been found, many of which contain MTBE, a suspected carcinogen.
- Water supply: San Jose already exceeds its limit for treated sewage discharge into the bay, which threatens endangered species. Industry is responsible for 10 percent of the water that runs through the plant.
- Air pollution: From the nasty yellow smog cap that threatens to turn this valley into the next Los Angeles to the big-picture global warming gases belched out by autos and industry, air pollution affects every valley resident.
- Toxic exposure on the job: Workers may have suffered cancer, had miscarriages and given birth to children with life-threatening defects all due to exposure to chemicals on the job. Workers and retired workers should monitor their health carefully.
- Reliance on pesticides and other synthetic toxins: Our reliance on large amounts of pesticides and other chemicals creates a toxic food chain in the valley supporting industries that store, move and dispose of chemicals locally.
- Increasing traffic congestion: According to Smith, the traffic here in Santa Clara County has finally surpassed Los Angeles' legendary snarled mess.
- Deteriorating health: The county has high rates of breast and prostate cancer, miscarriages and birth defects as well as asthma and other respiratory diseases.
- Rapid growth: Open space is disappearing faster than the endangered species that rely on it.
- High-speed change: The computer-manufacturing industry's ever-shrinking timetable has changed the way everyone looks at time. Short-term thinking, Smith says, promotes a throwaway culture.
- Political climate: Today's global economy has promoted a race to the bottom of the environmental heap, Smith says. Combined with the move toward deregulation, privatization and America's love affair with the corporation, this trend is disastrous.
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From the September 24-30, 1998 issue of Metro.
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