Boiling Frogs-Intel vs. the Village

"Boiling Frogs - Intel vs. the Village" recounts the story of Intel Rio Rancho's impact on the air and water in the Village of Corrales from the mid-1980s to the present day. Updates to this ongoing saga will be posted here.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Letter from Rosemary Keefe

Friends in Corrales have urged me to tell my story to help stop pollution from Intel and stop their proposed expansion. Two weeks ago I organized a forum on saving the NM environment. State Land Commissioner Dr. Ray Powell and Barbara Rockwell both spoke. The audience was roused for action. Today the Albuquerque Journal reports that Intel is rallying people to request immediate expansion. It further reports that "studies funded by the Environmental Department and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, 'have found no evidence of negative health effects from Intel emissions.'” (D-4) This may be in response to a grassroots petition in Corrales to NMED to deny the request for expansion.

Here's my story: When I moved to NM five years ago on my final sabbatical from the University of Wisconsin, Life without Stress washed over me. Hallelujah! I celebrated by taking hour-long walks every day up Morning Sun Trail directly under Intel on Hop Tree Trail, or I trudged up another road off Loma Larga also up to Intel--inhaling the "pure desert air" for my health. I was probably sucking in deadly gases and fine particle silica. The last four months of 2007 in Scotland, my last work for Wisconsin, I enjoyed tromping in the highlands and climbing the steep streets of Edinburgh. Early in 2008 in Corrales my throat seized up coughing on one of my walks. I suspected chemicals from Intel from the chemical taste in the back of my throat. Pollution? No problem. I'd been breathing on a polluted planet all my life--in stressful conditions. A little more pollution won't kill me. HA!

I paid no attention to the cough that wouldn't go away because I've always been healthy. In Feb 2009 I went to a new primary care doctor to get referral to physical therapy for my arthritic knees and mentioned the cough I'd had for a year. She diagnosed asthma and gave me a fistful of inhalers. Dutifully I inhaled meds that irritated my cough. No improvement. She'd taken a chest x-ray (CXR) in her office on 2/9/09, but I didn't see the radiologist's report until 14 months later. Early in 2010 my cough was seriously interfering with my performance of Mabel Dodge Luhan for NM Humanities Council Chautauqua "living history." I couldn't take a deep breath without triggering a cough, and the coughing that wouldn't stop often prevented my intake of air. My PCP ordered another CXR. It was only when I went for a CT scan in April 2010 that I saw a radiologist report on my CXR taken 2/9/09. Both CXR reports from 2/09 and 4/10 said "Pulmonary Fibrosis." CT scan confirmed PF.

Researching my past medical history, I discovered I'd had a CXR taken in Wisconsin end of 2004. A radiologist at NW Imaging put the three CXRs from Wisconsin 10/25/04 and from NM in 2/09 and 4/10 on screens side by side. Even with my untrained eye I could see dramatic changes in my lungs in 3 years and 3 months from Wisconsin to NM. The radiologist said he'd never seen such damage in so short a time.

I'd been looking forward to years of creativity (reviewing plays, writing memoirs, teaching creativity, performing) and travel in retirement. Now I'm told the Grim Reaper is nipping at my heels more closely than I'd imagined. I've always led a healthy active life. But for the last four months, I've needed oxygen almost 24/7, and I've had to curtail places I go. I can only review in theaters where I can drive right to the door. I hate to have to leave my beautiful home in order to breathe. Today one of my doctors urges me to consider a lung transplant--very dangerous for those over 60. I'm 71. "But you're healthy otherwise and you contribute so much to society," he says. It's my only hope--but a long shot.

Does Intel toxic pollution have anything to do with shortening my life and making what's left of it difficult every day? "Negative health effects from Intel emissions" are pretty obvious to me.


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