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Friday, October 14, 2011

New, Higher Fence Erected At Sherwin Williams Clean-Up Site

Toxic Clean-up Site: No Transparency, Literally
The Press Is Peering Over Our Fence?  Build It Taller!

Sherwin Williams Corporation has a little problem.  It seems the press thinks it can take pictures of their toxic soil clean-up with its heavy machinery digging and clouds of dust rising up.  Sherwin Williams erected perimeter security fences of opaque fabric over metal mesh and plywood walls to keep prying eyes out of their sensitive operations, but they didn't build the fences tall enough.
After The Secret News broke the story of the clouds of toxic lead and arsenic dust with its attendant and damning photograph, Sherwin Williams convened a meeting with its contractor; something had to be done...not about the clouds of dust wafting off project site and into the residential neighborhood.  No, something had to be done about people seeing what they are doing behind the fence.  So the word came down from the top; build a higher fence.

The Tattler inquired after they increased the height of their fence; why is the fence now taller where The Secret News photographer was documenting the dig site?  Three different answers came from the developer and Sherwin Williams itself.  First they said it was an "attractive nuisance", then they said it was needed since they were digging farther away from the eastern perimeter and something about the dust flying higher due to something or other.  Finally they settled on a plausible answer; they said they were simply using the higher fence as a better attachment anchor point for the dust controlling water misters they're using...interesting, but they never actually attached the misters to the new higher fence.  Weeks later, they still haven't.

After handing us the corporate version of three card monte, what we're left with is the real answer, likely at the onset, undeniable now: they simply don't want the press to see how the digging operations are raising large clouds of toxic dust, something they expressly told the neighboring residents in preliminary meetings, would not happen.  This combined with a reluctance to test the large quantities of dust landing on cars and roofs, etc in the neighborhood causes us pause; we don't think Sherwin Williams is up to this toxic clean-up task.  The idea that a compliant local government and a for profit corporation tasked with properly handling massive quantities of highly toxic soil immediately adjacent to a neighborhood with hundreds of people and the idea that this corporation, obviously very fearful of transparency, is abhorrent.

Send In The Haiku
After decades of illegal dumping of highly toxic substances in the soil, Sherwin Williams has dressed up their Horton Street plywood wall with haiku poetry solicited from the residents, celebrating Sherwin Williams paint products; an act that would cause some to question the role of the artist in speaking truth to (corporate) power.  But the haiku here hides a bigger truth; the truth of what Sherwin Williams is doing behind that wall, now that it's been sealed off from public view.
Why, we ask, didn't Sherwin Williams provide viewing windows in the sidewalk perimeter plywood fence so neighbors could directly see the toxic soil remediation for themselves?  The answer came from their corporate public relations subcontractor Mara Feeney; "It wouldn't be appropriate for children to spend extended periods of time (viewing through windows) at the project perimeter" she said.
And there you have it; Sherwin Williams says that off the clean-up site and in the adjacent neighborhood, it's inappropriate for children to hang out.  Why, we ask Sherwin Williams, is that inappropriate?


  1. So funny it's sad. So sad all we can do is laugh. Send in the haiku indeed.

  2. Ya, it is funny. LMAO at Brian's portrayal of these blogs as "the press." When I grow up I want to be a bona fide news source.

  3. The Press defined:
    a : the gathering and publishing or broadcasting of news : journalism
    b : newspapers, periodicals, and often radio and television news broadcasting
    c : news reporters, publishers, and broadcasters
    d : comment or notice in newspapers and periodicals

    Luckily for us, the is no arbiter of legitimacy, with the weight of the law behind it, for the press. Indeed, if there were, we would not be America. News may be broadcast by any/all, not just from a government sanctioned source. For that in Emeryville, please refer to the news blog produced by the Chamber of Commerce (with taxpayer money) The Emeryville Connection.

  4. Haiku? It's more like Ahchoo when the wind picks up!

  5. At least this blog provides the citizens with some oversight into what their government is doing.
    Once you take away the slant that Mr. Donahue provides, you'll see a lot of good information that the power elite in this town try to hide from you.