Kids can't wait for clean air

The Shenango Coke Works must address neighbors' concerns
March 7, 2012 6:59 am

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As a parent in the Northgate School District, I see the health effects of Shenango's air pollution firsthand among my children's friends and their families. Too many of our kids are spending time in the overcrowded nurse's office where students go for their daily asthma treatments instead of in their classrooms. Without seeing it day-to-day in our schools, it is hard to understand just how much these health issues are affecting our community.

It's time for Shenango management to come out from behind their PR smokescreen to see these impacts for themselves and to hear firsthand the stories of families like ours who are most affected by the coke plant's emissions.

Air pollution caused by the coke oven operations at Shenango may not be the sole reason our communities struggle to breathe, but it is one of the problems that we can do something about.

The children attending Northgate School District don't have time to wait on a settlement between Shenango and the Allegheny County Health Department. The "timing" couldn't be better than it is right now: We are renewing our invitation to Shenango to come to our community and meet with us soon to help find solutions that will let our kids -- and us parents -- breathe easier.

Management guru Stephen Covey says, "You can't talk your way out of what you've behaved yourself into." What we're asking for is very simple -- our community is asking company executives to take responsibility and acknowledge the alarming rate of asthma and health concerns in this community. Just meeting the standards is not good enough when it comes to the health of our children.

At some point, Shenango managers can't hide behind controlled presentations and closed-door meetings anymore. They need to show their faces in our neighborhood, listen to the overwhelming health concerns from our community and demonstrate their willingness to respond. At that point, we can start to work together toward changes that will really begin to clear the air for our kids and our families.

Bill Bartlett, the father of a 7-year-old, lives in Bellevue (bill.l.bartlett@gmail.com).
First Published 2012-03-07 06:00:39

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