I strongly encourage the opponents of the proposed aluminum smelter operation in Wenden to contact the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). This highly successful group works to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. In fact, very recently the CELDF assisted Lincoln County in Oregon to enact the Rights of Nature to prevent aerial spraying of pesticides. Just recently, with the help of CELDF, five Florida counties have filed Rights of Nature initiatives to save drinking water and ecosystems.

Numerous studies have been done worldwide on the effects of smelter health hazards. While the Prebake smelters emit far fewer toxic emissions than the Soderberg system, there are still fluorides released which can cause irritation to the respiratory system, eye, and skin.  Smelter workers may experience these issues also, along with possible hearing loss due to noise in the workplace.

Ultimately, the risk to the community from pollutants is difficult to assess due to conflicting or insufficient data. Primarily it appears that young children and older citizens living in a “smelting community” suffer more illness from these pollutants wafting through the air than the general population.

It is not my intention to cause communities to lose opportunities for financial gain, and while the smelter may bring more employment and money into the Wenden and Salome areas, what good is the money if it all goes for healthcare problems? In addition, we all already breathe pollutants every day. No one should be asked to voluntarily breathe more of them, no matter how “safe” they are reputed to be.

Finally, has anyone considered that perhaps people choose to live in these communities because they like the quiet, the isolation, and the lack of industry in their neighborhoods?

Becky Coffield


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