"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." I've recalled this quote while reviewing the concerns of my "Whatcom Docs" colleagues about alleged health risks of the Gateway Terminal project. They cite studies showing ill effects from intense exposure to pollutants and on that basis claim that serious damage will arise from the almost negligible contamination predicted for the Gateway Terminal and associated rail traffic, concluding that a health disaster will result. I believe they are wrong.
For research to apply to a real situation, the actual and research conditions must be comparable. Here they are not. The research may be sound but its application to the Gateway project is misleading at best. Those with a radical environmental agenda often use such deceptive tactics ? remember the "cranberry sauce" debacle of 1959 and the "Alar apple" scare of 1989 ? to sway public opinion.
Measures of pollutants from rail transport of coal and other goods indicate low risk. Environmental protective measures incorporated in the Gateway project and the standards required for project approval are reassuring. The economic benefits for our region appear significant.
Opinion about this project should evolve from thoughtful study and discussion, not hysteria. Group opinions, especially those predicting catastrophe, are suspect even if they come wrapped in a white coat.
Warren B. Howe