June 15, 2006

Rock River, wetlands, take a big hit for "jobs".

Illinois (and the country) is faced with the dramatic destruction of wetlands, with only a fraction of it left and dwindling fast. These wetlands are a crucial environment for many species, as well as essential for flood prevention and serve several other critical functions as well.

But to many, they're just empty land to make a mint on.

Here's a shot sent in by a reader showing at least partially the site of the Triumph Hog Slaughter operation.

Estimated location marked in red.

And here's a map showing the area shown by the photo.

As you can clearly see, it's right on top of wetlands, adjoins actual lakes, and is within a stone's throw from the Rock River itself.

Don't know about you, but even if you're all gung-ho for this plant, would you ever swim or fish in the Rock again after it's up and killing literally thousands of hogs per day? Is that the price you're willing to pay?

The potential for substantial pollution and degradation over time is large and real. Since you may not use or enjoy the Rock River yourself, are you willing to essentially degrade it, or at least the 20 or so miles below this plant and turn it into a gigantic waste disposal pipe into the Mississippi, in the name of "jobs"? And give up literally millions in tax revenue for the privilege?

This reader also sent in reams and reams of data, charts, statistics, and endless columns and quotes, no doubt legitimate, but unfortunately, not much of it was linked or sourced.

Much of it showed the effects of just such plants on other locales and the surrounding environment, in particular one disasterous plant in Milan, Missouri.

It also cited statistics and data showing how such plants attract huge number of CAFOs, or concentrated animal farming operations, which are notorious polluters, often creating entire large lakes full of disease ridden and barely treated hog waste.


At 6/15/2006 3:08 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

My guess is that if the pork plant is as devastating to the wetlands and general environment as your post implies, that may be enough to kill the deal.

As you may recall, there was hysteria from environmentalists about the WalMart building in Moline.

My sister used to live in what I called "Swamp Villa" behind WalMart and I can attest that the swamp and wetlands around the Moline WalMart are intact.

The EPA is still an agressive governmental agency and if their research and studies show that the pork plant will harm the environment---the pork plant ain't gonna happen.

At 6/15/2006 11:03 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dook, I wish I had reason to share your amazing confidence in the ability and desire of the EPA to enforce anything when it conflicts with a large economic interest with parties both in the corporation and in politics who are strongly motivated to make sure that they DON'T find violations, and if so, that they are quiety dealt with by paying a few minor fines.

I've read or heard nothing to suggest that the EPA, most particularly under this administration, is anything much more than a paper tiger.

At 6/16/2006 12:47 PM, Blogger Anon 10:32 said...

My understanding is that your friends the Asain Carp love the hog water and are a great cleaner of these type of things. Try and get on board with this Dope.

At 6/16/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger rope-a-dope said...

What's the matter dope . . . don't you enjoy a good pork chop from time to time . . . or a nice baked ham???

Pork production is a "value added" product. This is the midwest for God's sake, and agriculture is a keystone of our economy.

My wife works for $7.50 an hour and I work for $12, so folks like us sure aren't going to sneeze at ANY job opportunity here in the Quad Cities!

At 6/16/2006 8:33 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...


"Try to get on board" with what? Hundreds of thousands of gallons of hog waste? Thanks but no thanks. Can't get on board with that.

Feeding Asian carp pig sh*t? I thought the idea was to get rid of them, not provide a smorgasbord for them. What are you saying? That Asian carp are a good thing? It makes no sense to me.

I've tried to "get on board" with this, but I'm afraid trying to suggest that enormous invasive carp will eat the bacteria and disease ridden polution released into the water table and river just doesn't quite do the trick. Forgive me.

Give me a reason, besides some jobs, that I should "get on board".

At 6/16/2006 8:38 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Rope, old pal,

I can still enjoy a good pork chop or a rack of smoked back ribs without a huge slaughter plant being located right next to a local river while destroying acres of already vanishing wetlands.

Are you arguing that if this plant didn't locate in that exact spot that pork chops will disappear?

Surely not.

And yep, this is the midwest alright. And the midwest is a pretty damn big place. A whole lot of places for a hog slaughter factory and the concentrated hog lots that it will attact to locate.

Let them go foul someone else's area. Someplace where people don't give a damn about the environment that they live in and who are so desperate and uninformed that they'll agree to anything if it dangles the prospects of some jobs.

Oh yeah. I guess that's here.

At 6/17/2006 8:05 PM, Blogger rope-a-dope said...

The first thing I'd like to say is . . . If the plant turns out to be a big polluter, I'll be there screaming along with you Inside D!

I know you don't know Doug Scott (current IL EPA Director), but I've known him for years, and he's one of the few folks involved in politics that I'd look up to. Because Doug's EPA has signed off on the plan, and because it has the backing of local labor unions, many of the potential complaints are already addressed (again - just my opinion.)

I grew up with Rory Washburn (of the Building Trades), and I really do think he and his fellow labor leaders are too wise to have been sold the proverbial "pig in a poke" here.

Like you, I don't have a lot of faith in the current Federal regime, and I'm not a real big fan of the Blagojevich Administration either for that matter. I honestly expected more from Blagojevich, after waiting most of my lifetime for a Democratic Governor. Perhaps my expectations were too high?

But I just can’t find myself siding with folks like Bob Zesiger and Doug Reil. I personally have the feeling that the individuals who fought the hog plant would have also fought a plant like the IPSCO steel plant that located across the river near Buffalo Iowa a few years back.

While I am not a fan of "corporate welfare", it seems there's no way to attract jobs these days without some kind of concessions (or incentives) from local Governments, so I am somewhat resigned to incentive packages like that offered to Triumph as a "necessary evil".

Many of the hog plant opponents really want(in my opinion) to have no industrial development near them. I can understand how they feel, but I personally feel the economic development needs of the area trump their personal wants.

Finally, I do believe that Mayor Thodos is this for the long run. Although I don’t necessarily trust his “realtor mentality”, I do very much believe he will work hard to see that Triumph is a good neighbor in his city. The same “realtor mentality” that makes me a tad bit uneasy, also will work in our favor here. Thodos is a self made millionaire who holds significant real estate in East Moline and Silvis, and I don’t believe he’s about to let that investment go down the tubes by allowing Triumph to become a bad neighbor.

I know there is plenty of room for difference in perspective here, but I’m just a lot more comfortable on the same side as Rory Washburn, rather than with the likes of Bob Zesiger, if ya know what I mean. ;)

At 6/26/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

I was at the Moline Wal mart the other day and overheard the employees talking about the loss of all things, "wetlands". Yes, even the undereducated underpaid workers at Wal Mart are seeing the folly of it all....as they stand on ground that is concrete - the floor of Wal Mart in Moline -- which used to be a wet lands...now they are suddenly worried about all the animals that used to live there.... too late for that piece of land.

Is it too late for the rest of our country? Have we gone so far we can't go back??


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