By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
In the document describing how the state says a cleanup must be managed, environmental officials say first: "As previously indicated, there is a potential for a variety of unknown materials, including but not limited to reactive/explosive materials. The close proximity of Lake Ray Hubbard and the potential for having hazardous materials contaminate those waters is also a concern that should be constantly monitored."
The document directs that trenches be dug around the site before any excavation to "absorb the concussion of a blast and potentially circumvent or minimize shock damage to both the highway and the hotel."
Another little idea that came to my mind: How about getting the people out of the hotel first? Just a thought. And I personally will not be doing any cat-fishing in the vicinity any time soon, thank you, Mr. Both-Hands-Over-His-Mouth Daniels.
Or maybe I should not be such a chicken and should go fishing out there anyway, as long as I wear the kind of clothing the state says the cleanup team must have on before it sticks the first shovel in the ground, including but not limited to "encapsulated chemical resistant suit, air supplied respirator, inner/outer gloves, 2-way [radio] communications...reactive /explosive flash protection suits, flame and fire retardant aluminized Tevlar suits with second chance body armor."
See, I just never have been able to enjoy fishing in second-chance body armor. Oh, and one other thing the state wants the tidy-up crew to take with them: a "bomb pot." You know: one of those big concrete coffin-looking deals that the police set off bombs in.
Can you imagine? Right next to this site the city has picnic tables. You're out there with the kids, and you see the team going in with their chem suits and their second-chance body armor, dragging the bomb pot. I think it's time to throw everybody in the car and burn rubber.
In spite of the evidence from the ground sonar and in spite of what Parsons and the other whistle-blower have told investigators, it is true that nobody knows what is really down there. They could dig it all up, and it could be harmless. The kind of precautions being taken in this case indicate that people are pretty worried, not to say scared silly like me, but there is always the chance these worries and heart-stopping fears will turn out to be unfounded.
Bonnino, the Granite official who talked to me, said his company is ready and willing to get after it, as soon as everybody comes up with a protocol. And this is, after all, a major firm that isn't going to steal away in the dark of night over something like this.
What is so terrifying to me, however, is the callous, screw-you, nobody's-business attitude of the city. This is city land around a city-owned drinking-water reservoir. The city's record of mismanagement in the first place, compounded by the appalling obstructionism ever since, is especially scary when you think about how the city must be handling other municipal resources.
While I was out at Lake Ray Hubbard last week looking at the dump site, I heard a deep rumbling and saw a plume of dust not far off. Ah, the siren call of dump trucks. I climbed into my car and soon found myself following a great big fat roaring dump truck full of huge chunks of concrete rubble as it wended its way along a dirt road, right past a Dallas Police Department facility and deep into wooded city-owned land along the lakeshore. There was a sign telling me I couldn't drive out there, but I couldn't understand it.
Imagine my surprise and consternation when I saw the truck stop, back up and rumble out onto a long causeway into the lake. It dumped its entire load of rubble right into the middle of the lake!
I sat there for a while and watched the operation as other trucks came along and dumped into the lake. After each dump, a Caterpillar tractor scrambled out onto the causeway and smoothed out the latest deposit with its blade.
I figured out that they were building a breakwater to shelter a little marina on the inland side of the causeway. And one supposes that it's all OK and copacetic. Of course, the city must be inspecting those loads, or it must have some kind of agreement, because obviously the city of Dallas would not allow a construction company to poison us.
Right? Tell me I'm right.