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Facility Defended

February 10, 1991

Your story concerning the La Posta Recycling Center ("Backcountry Rallies Against Waste Plan," Jan. 30), while accurately reporting on one small step in the approval process, leaves a strong impression that the facility threatens massive damage to the environment and the community.

There certainly is no evidence that this is true, and the story is representative of the great difficulty newspapers face (and often succumb to) in reporting on this type of project.

Rampant emotionalism is always the result when neighbors learn about nearly any kind of industrial or large public facility that may be nearby. The emotionalism, as in the case of our prospective East County neighbors, is rarely based on fact but most often is based on a very understandable fear of the unknown.

It is exactly because of these emotions and fears that the government has instituted an exhaustive environmental review process. If we are to solve the very real problems of hazardous waste caused by all members of society, we must reach well beyond the emotion and strive for sound, proven technological solutions. Your paper was provided with detailed information from project proponents, yet not one line of the story gave their side of the issue.

Although the basis of the detailed environmental review was very well explained by the representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs at the meeting, nowhere is this explanation covered in your story. It should be.

While the media may split hairs and talk about the fact that quotes are accurate and that it is your responsibility to report what happened and not to sort out truth from fiction, we believe you have a very real responsibility not to be used by project opponents as a rhetorical soapbox, which was the impression left by your story.

It is not unusual for proposed projects such as the La Posta Recycling Center to be held to tremendous burdens of proof and regulatory scrutiny. Project opponents, however, are rarely, if ever, asked to provide factual evidence for even their most outlandish charges. To the extent that such charges are not challenged by the media, the community is further alarmed and further disserviced. Hopefully, your future coverage of this project will be fair and include our side of the story, which we believe is compelling and, once understood, will allay the fears of anyone that makes an effort to understand it.

JAMES DANNER, Vice President, La Posta Recycling Center Inc.

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