W.A.T.E.R. and Winnemem Wintu Tribe Guest Opinion Article in Mount Shasta Herald
We all know that advertisements by giant corporations are not always reliable sources of truth. A case in point is the full-page ad by Crystal Geyser Roxane (CGR, a French/Japanese multinational corporation with a plant in Weed) in the June 3, 2020, Mt. Shasta Herald. In big bright red colored print, CGR informs us that it is "Committed to the Environment" and "Committed to You". We might contrast those self-serving pronouncements with their actual recent behaviors:
•1• An internal CGR document was accidentally sent to the newspaper of Lewis County, WA, where CGR wants to set up a water bottling plant in spite of major citizen and County government official opposition. In the email, a CGR official admits they are "fortunate not to have been sued yet", suggests to "hire a PR firm solely for the purpose of gathering grassroots supporters", and proposes to sue area landowners to "get them to the table". (1)
•2• CGR is the main driver of Roseburg Lumber's demand to take over Weed's historic 100-year water supply (Beaughan Springs), cut the City off, and then sell the water to CGR. In its full page ad, CGR says "we take our responsibility to our... community very seriously". But according to videoed public statements by the Weed mayor and a City Councilmember, the founder of CGR (and father of its CEO) threatened to "blow up" the Weed plant if he did not get all the water he demanded. (2) (Later that month, other CGR officials "apologized" for those comments). (3) As a result, the City of Weed has already expended substantial amounts of money on legal fees in efforts to re-claim their share of the Beaughan Springs water. The costs to the community will likely continue for decades.
•3• According to Water for Citizens of Weed California (a group of concerned citizens including former Weed mayors, past City Councilpersons, business owners, and some current City officials), CGR in Weed had been dumping its industrial waste without authorization or permits into a holding pond that consistently overflowed across a neighboring property into a tributary of Boles Creek, up until 2018 when the neighbor complained.(4)
•4• CGR frequently advertises for new workers in local newspapers, typically indicative of a high turnover rate. Beverage industry wages on the production line are low, not nearly up to family living wage levels.(5,6) Generally, benefits do not kick in until 6 months on the job. Cal/OSHA issued citations to CGR Weed in 2017 for violations of California labor code, at least one of which led to the death of a forklift operator trainee. (7)
•5• A Jan 22, 2020 headline in the California Globe says it all: "Crystal Geyser Found Guilty Of Dumping Arsenic Into California‘s Waterways", referring to the CGR plant in Olancha, CA. CGR plead guilty to two felony counts for unlawful storage and transportation of hazardous waste. (8,9)
•6• CGR’s ad boasts that they will start using plastic PET bottles made of 50% recycled material. However, less than one third of all plastic bottles are recycled in the USA (2017 data). (10) Moreover, PET plastics bottles can be recycled at most only twice, thus the ultimate fate of the many millions of bottles produced by CGR will be as waste. (11) As we all know, throw-away plastic pollution in the ocean is a major problem, particularly for marine life. (12) Recent research is documenting the many health threats of plastics to land organisms, including humans. (13)
In view of CGR's questionable past behaviors with respect to the environment and the community, these misleading full page ads must be viewed critically and with caution.
2. "Water Town" video documentary by Maya Craig, available for free viewing at https://www.pbs.org/video/water-town-truly-ca-hfyha4/, timing at 13:40 to 14:20.
4. Weed Press, March 4, 2020, pg A5.
11. Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782. Available at: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.
12. Michelle Sigler, The Effects of Plastic Pollution On Aquatic Wildlife: Current Situations and Future Solutions, 225(11) WATER, AIR, AND SOIL POLLUTION 2014. doi: 10.1007/s11270-014-2184-6.