To the editor:
When I was a boy growing up during the 1950s, every factory and mill from Concord, N.H., to Newburyport was going full bore, producing every and any type of goods one could imagine from appliances to zippers and every thing in between. The skyline was dotted with smoke stacks pouring smoke from coal-fired furnaces throughout all of the Merrimack Valley. These industrial juggernauts were producing thousands of decent paying jobs along with insurmountable amounts of air and water pollution. The Merrimack River could only be described as a giant flowing open sewer by 1960.
Enter Rachel Carson who was a scientist working for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. She was the first to realize the direct correlation of damage to the environment from pesticides such as DDT. Rachel wrote and published a book called “Silent Spring” describing her findings in 1962. The chemical companies went on the attack calling her a liar, loser and a lunatic who was out to destroy them. President Kennedy ordered the Science Advisory Committee to study her assertions and found them spot on.
This was a defining moment which opened the public’s eyes, made them pay attention and start enforcing laws already on the books like the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. On Dec. 2, 1970, President Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency and by 1972 the new Clean Water Act was instituted.
When the 1980s rolled in, people from all over the vicinity were boating, skiing and swimming in the beautiful Merrimack River.