My name is Joanne Marshall and I come from a small town, Greenland, New Hampshire. Greenland is a suburb of Portsmouth, New Hampshire where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the former Pease Air Force Base reside. It was once a rural community, and has a few remaining hay farms left and one dairy. The neighborhood where we live, is a quiet neighborhood, where folks gather while shoveling snow, planting their gardens or walking their dogs. I used to call it "God's little acre." A great place to raise families until it was disturbed in October of 1995, when large tractor-trailer trucks began rolling down our street, in the early morning hours before most people were stirring. These trucks were depositing truckload after truckload of some smelly, murky stuff and piling it on a field next door.
At first there was a faint smell of something in the air. Being down wind from the field, I smelt it most. In all my thirty or so years of living on this street, I never smelt anything like that. I was told the truckers were dumping, in short, a four-letter word beginning with s and ending with t. -- Sewerage, human waste. I remember thinking how inconceivable this was. On October 31st, a week later, I arrived home from work in a hurry. It was Halloween and my little girl was late trick or treating. Grabbing my bags I bolted out of the car only to be greeted by such as stench, it took my breath away. Nausea hit me like a ton of bricks and as soon as I was inside I ran for the bathroom. That frightful night became the turning point or our serene neighborhood and the beginning of nightmarish weeks and months to come.
We called the police department, who knew nothing of the dumping and then the chairman of our Selectmen, who said he also knew nothing. We then called the owner of the field, an elderly widow, who told us that her hayer persuaded her to use this stuff on her field. She said she was told that this stuff would be beneficial to the environment. She was very sorry for the smell, but assured us, as she was assured, that it was healthy and okay.
As days and weeks went by. we became sicker and sicker. Not just my family, but our whole immediate neighborhood. We all shared the same symptoms: first nausea and vomiting followed by severe stomach cramps and migraine headaches. Then fever and flu like symptoms, more respiratory. There was a continual battle of thick mucous, one that made it hard to swallow and discharge. At times it appeared as if our reflex system had slowed because you would gag on the mucous and sometimes choke to dispel it. Often it would wake you because your breathing passages were blocked by it.
Upon discovering that my neighbors were experiencing the same problems, I contacted the Governor's office, which directed me to Health and Human services, Risk Assessment. The gentleman I spoke with said that our symptoms were symptoms of sludge exposure. I
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