Revised: Ramsey: Is “C” for Cancer or Cosmetics? 

A guest column from a cancer survivor who grew up near Mission’s infamous Hayes Sammons Superfund site.

Recently I had surgery on my nose for Cancer. I was told that if I could maintain the bandage for seven days, I would have a better Cosmetic result. In my opinion, Cancer is an evil dropped down on the human race. Like a net, it stretches out to trap as many victims as it can. 

Unfortunately, the net is spreading more and more and faster and faster. Why? Because of greed for money and power, ignorance, and carelessness.

On the other hand, Cosmetics easily enhance beauty. The VISION of beauty. They can be in jars, pots, and sprays from the mall to the dollar store. They are everywhere.

A surgeon can individually change a person’s appearance if the patient can endure the pain or pay the cost. The surgery is very selective and the surgeon is very attentive to the needs of the patient.

If we return to a study of Hayes Sammons victims, will Cosmetics change the ugliness of their lives? Without help, there is little hope.

For the present and the future, there is a choice to be made. Quality materials can be used in production to avoid environmental contamination. Safety measures already in place should be followed carefully. No cover-ups/grafts are needed, as the final product will be pristine, and worthy of pride. 

Can or will government agencies with the responsibility of moving the people out to a safer location have the courage to transition the community in Mission, Texas from their Cancerous environment to a safer location? Federal law mandated that residents and contaminated Superfund communities should be moved to a safer location, but this never happened in Mission, Texas.

There needs to be a cut like a surgeon’s knife makes to move the people away from those old wooden houses that still smell like chemicals when the wind blows.

Ester Salinas, the founder of the Hayes Sammons case, lost her father to stomach Cancer when she was 14 years old and lost her mother to Alzheimer’s as an adult, after a lifetime of Chemical exposure. Her grandson suffers from a severe case of Spina Bifida, kidney disease, and other illnesses. He has never walked and is confined to a wheelchair. Ester herself endured surgery for thyroid Cancer.  Her children all have respiratory problems as well as other health issues.

The “graft” that was called “remediation” of the soil by EPA/TCEQ only served to cover up the toxic Chemicals below the surface of the soil. 

Have you ever seen the condition of old water pipes when plumbing repairs are done? If not, check out Walmart’s display of clean water bottles. You will also view a picture of corroded water pipes found underground. These pipes carry the water many people drink, as well as toxic Chemicals that do not dissolve for many years, possibly generations. The corroded underground water pipes found in Mission, Texas are perfect passageways for ancient Chemical contamination.

Did remediation by TCEQ solve all the problems? NO! These toxins have permeated ALL levels of life in Mission, Texas. Can’t find workers for simple jobs? Many potential workers are sick and watching life go by, without hope for the future, wondering if there will actually be a settlement from the defendants.

If you are an industrial planner, consider your impact on the future.  Before sending your production plans or jobs to India or Mexico, can you find ways to economize on production costs without compromising the quality of the product? Following strict safety regulations, as most do, may reduce profits somewhat. But reprioritizing how the financing is designated, and focusing on safety may contribute to better health for our children and/or grandchildren in the future. 

The choice is yours. To help or hinder?

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Charlotte Ramsey, a retired educator who grew up near the Hayes Sammons pesticide plan in Mission, Texas, and who know lives in McAllen, Texas. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author.

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