I have been following the news accounts of illegal lead paint chip dumping by NH DOT employees.
Since I was introduced to the goings on with the NH DOT, specifically the Bridge Dept., back in 1991 when they covered up the bait and switch of materials put into a bridge in my town I feel I am somewhat of an expert on how they handle controversy.
I met during that 1991 bridge fiasco in my town, then and now again, Commissioner Mr. O’Leary and his assistant Leon Kenison, so to me this illegal lead paint chip dumping ordeal makes perfect sense.
All you have to do is follow the story:
It comes to light through what seems to be a disgruntled DOT employee’s complaint that DOT workers have been dumping lead paint on NH DOT property—specifically tons of materials buried under a floor of a DOT building on Range Road in Franklin. This has been going on, off and on, for about 18 years.
DOT Commish Charles O’Leary, who was Commissioner during some of the alleged dumping time period is now in charge again - appointed by the little Governor himself.
June 2007, the dumping comes to light. O’Leary states that mistakes were made and that one employee was fired and others disciplined. The NH Attorney General’s Office declared that they had completed a 15 month investigation related to this matter.
They vow to clean the mess up. Meetings are held — can’t have a situation like this without powerful people at meetings. Right?
The DOT gets “fined” some $330,000.00 by the DES? (Haven’t figured that one out yet.)
And the “clean-up” has a price tag of $1.5 million. Boy that’s tidy—and quick.
It was reported by the AP on June 23 that the “testing” of properties near the Franklin dumping site were cleared of lead pollution. So far so good. Tons of lead paint get buried for a twenty year period and there is no trace to be found in adjoining properties. Amounts in the 50 parts per million range are found but the threshold for clean up is 400 parts per million. But then more “testing” needs to be done.
Some “testing” has been coming in though.
August 1, “The Citizen” reporter Gail Ober quotes State Rep. Jim Ryan in her lead paint story that the Governor himself wants to keep a “bright light” on this. That should prove interesting.
And farther along in August 1, The Citizen article is says that one third of the famous floor of the Franklin, Range Road DOT building was dug up and only two pieces of epoxy the size of a thumb were found. Not only were just two tiny pieces of possibly lead paint bearing epoxy found, it looks as though no dumping occurred. Other test pits were “equally unremarkable.”
Now it all makes sense to me.
An illegal lead paint dumping scandal hits the DOT.
The new Commissioner, just appointed by Mr. Popularity, takes charge.
The AG’s Office steps in.
Anonymous state employees get sacked and disciplined. Even though there is as of now no trace of any illegal dumping those anonymous state employees stay quiet, fired, and disciplined.
The DES gets a $330,00.00 windfall.
The NH DOT has $1.5 million in fresh cash to spend “cleaning up” the mess.
No lead is found.
The Governor takes credit for being on top of the whole thing.
So far, so good!