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The Baltimore Sun

Make Exxon do more to ensure clean water

While I am pleased that the state has required ExxonMobil to write a check as a penalty for releasing gasoline into my neighborhood's groundwater, I am disappointed in some of the provisions and omissions in the recent consent decree ("Exxon fined $4 million for gas leak," Sept. 17).

The agreement, which requires ExxonMobil to develop a corrective action plan (CAP) for restoring the health of our groundwater, is incredibly vague. It contains no map or other indication of what physical area is covered by the consent decree and no mention of how deep the restoration of groundwater quality must go.

The CAP is subject to review and approval only by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Given the havoc that has been wreaked on this neighborhood, I think citizens of this community deserve an opportunity to comment on the CAP before it is approved.

The decree states that the remedial goal is to return groundwater to levels of contamination at or below MDE's current standards but states that "remedial action may employ natural attenuation."

Does that mean that allowing the contamination to be naturally diluted is OK with MDE?

I would like to something more proactive than "natural attenuation."

Finally, $4 million may be the largest fine of its kind ever in Maryland, but it isn't enough.

The character of this area has been forever changed; we now have an industrial site right in the center of town where the water sucked out of our ground is pumped for treatment.

It's been 2 1/2 years since the leak, and the end to this problem isn't yet in sight.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler must make absolutely sure MDE holds Exxon accountable for a swift and thorough remediation.

Isn't that why we pay these guys the big bucks?

Barb Sheeler, Jacksonville

The writer is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Exxon over the gas leaks in the Jacksonville area.

There's nothing cute about pig wrestling

Pigs being punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket. This is pig wrestling, and this is what Spring Meadow Farms has decided to make an annual "family fun" event ("Dozens wrestle pigs; no protests," Sept. 28).

I had heard that pig wrestling is cruel to the animals, but I wanted to see for myself. Apparently I had heard right.

The pigs and piglets were so scared that most were squealing at the top of their lungs while groups of four people chased and tackled them in an enclosed ring.

One pig was so scared that it rammed the fence, knocked it down and ran toward the woods. A heavy-set man then jumped directly on top of the terrified pig, which was dragged back into the ring.

This event was disgraceful, and it should be an embarrassment to real farmers who value treating animals with respect and kindness.

Spring Meadow Farms should be ashamed of hosting this event and of boasting about how much it cares about the animals that were clearly being abused.

Aaron Ross, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Humane League of Baltimore.

Taxpayers liable to be the victims

The word "confidence" has often been used about the bailout issue. Many say we need to restore "confidence" among bankers so they resume lending and confidence among consumers so they continue borrowing.

But the word is also the basis for the term "confidence game," or "con game" for short.

I fear that we taxpayers are about to become victims of the biggest con game in history ("Bailout bill passes Senate," Oct. 2).

Jim Tabeling, Baltimore

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