Oppostion to
The Lead Mills Project

by Christine Caldwell
Testimony before the Board of Selectmen

Thank you for the opportunity to hear my opinion against the Lead Mill project development

Today, you the Board of Selectman are faced with an unprecedented challenge and a decision of monumental proportion regarding the future of Marblehead children and residents.

Do you let yet another 40B pass unchallenged, unchecked because you feel you have no other options or do you rise to the challenge and question what is really at the heart of the Lead Mills proposal: Whether the Lead Mills proposal is (1) good for the local economy, (2) good for low income housing, (3) good for the landscape, (4) good for the environment, (5) good for open space? But, these are mundane issues and pale in comparison to the real issue: Is it good for the Health of all Marbleheader’s and /Salem residents alike?

I have been a resident of Marblehead for 27 years, I have a medical background and owed a company that assisted in medical litigation. I served on the Finance Committed for 7 years. As a lead expert I helped law firms assemble some of the toughest cases against childhood lead poisoning. I was a speaker at a National Lead forum in Washington DC.  I have testified in court on lead poisoning cases.

Massachusetts has the some of the toughest laws in the country because they knew the affect of lead poisoning is permanent and irreversible. And very very costly.

These are my opinions as a citizen of Marblehead and a medical professional who has testified about lead poisoning in children.

The town was wrongly advised about selling the Lead Mills property. That is now history even though I do no understand how Mr Bane got the property for a small sum that is not the issue here today.

There will be many arguments to the pros and cons of this whole project.  One thing is crystal clear to me. The people of the town want you, the Board of Selectmen to make the right, fully educated decision about how to best preserve the health and well being of the citizenship of Marblehead.  We have been dealing with the Salem Power plant for too long, we have high rates of cancer in town both for men and women and we do not need another health hazard when it is very avoidable.

Forget the fact that KSS is not paying for any cleanup. Forget the fact that the presented structure is beyond ugly and does not fit into the landscape. Forget the fact that we lose precious woodlands and waterfront property. Forget the fact that we lose walking space, trees and wildlife, song birds and tranquility. Forget the fact that it will increase congestion and the height of the structure is ungodly. Forget the fact that it will increase sewage, water and electricity needs to say nothing about the congestion on streets, the burden on schools and traffic flow.

Let’s talk about lead

It was the number one hazard in MA to cause brain damage to babies and children until the MA legislation passed one of the strictest lead laws in the country.  There was a reason for that.

Being a medical lead expert, I assembled teams to work with plaintiff lawyers on the short and long term medical  effects of lead poisoning and the financial impact.

I worked with pediatricians, toxicologist, neuro-psychologist, and economists. The end results it that lead poisoning is permanent and irreversible and long term medical care is very expensive.

One thing we know for certain is that there are no reported cases of lead poisoning,  that I could find, because the Lead Mills property remains untouched. This pertains to the properties abutting the land  as well as the Salem side across the pond.

What we don’t know for sure is what will happen when this peaceful, quiet, tranquil track of land is disturbed and desecrated by bull dozers, dredging equipment, construction vehicles, tire trucks etc which have the potential of uprooting a hazardous and dangerous contaminant…Lead and releasing it into the air.

Lead poisoning is permanent and irreversible. It can affect everyone but it mostly hurts infants and children to the age of 5. This happens because the membrane that surrounds the brain is still permeable. When lead is ingested either through the air (lungs) or through the mouth, (eating or chewing) , it displaces the O2 molecule which supplies oxygen to all of our body systems but in children, what is affected most is the brain. The Pb or lead displaces and replaces the O2 molecule and that starts a viscous cycle of minuscule brain damage, which left un-checked can cause mild or severe brain damage to children depending on how much and how long the exposure and how great the ingestion.  The lead deprives the brain of much needed oxygen and depending on which area of the brain is affected a child can have severe learning disabilities from comprehension to speech, to learning and  walking etc. I have seen the effects and it is not a pretty.

The damage is permanent and irreversible. While chelating is available to stop or halt the process, it will not and I stress, it will NOT reverse lead poisoning nor the damage it causes.


What if: these great plans to bypass our zoning laws to put in affordable housing in Marblehead fail to protect the people and primarily our children both in Salem and in Marblehead.
What if: these alleged “contained contaminants”: are not contained but prior to containment are released into the air? Or worse yet, get uncontained due to some freak of mother nature.

What if  this project fails and KSS walks away. And within 3-4 years we have an increase in lead poisoning in the town of Marblehead and Salem.

Who will be left holding the preverbal  bag to be suedI believe it is Marblehead. If we approve of this project.

What if:  this is a really a bad idea both economically, environmentally, but more importantly from a health concern of our children.

What if they are built and no one comes?  While KSS is willing to take a risk, it is really small, because those types of folks are known to walk away and file bankruptcy. I have personal experience with that as well.

The only topic that is NOT a  what if, is, left undisturbed, the lead will not disturb you. If National Lead is trying to clean it up, then leave it alone, they will never get all of it, it has been there too long and is buried, thank you lord, too deep.

If lead is released into the air, it will maim our children and it can hurt adults as well, much more than asbestos has ever done.

I have two grandchildren that live on the opposite side of the Lead Mills area, they are 7 months and 2 years old.  I do not want to think how I would react if they got lead poisoning from this Lead Mills project. I can tell you it could get ugly. At present the boys are both healthy and lead free.  Let’s keep it that way. Let’s keep all of our children and grandchildren lead free.

Don’t take the risk, the potential results will be more than devastating, they will be permanent.

I believe that once Marbleheader’s understand the full implications of what this project could do to us as a population but more specifically to our children and grandchildren, they will speak out.  Please call or fax your disapproval to the Board of Selectman or drop them a note to that effect.  I will work tirelessly to help defeat this project because it is the healthy thing to do.

You have a tough decision, I am sure you will make the right one for us, your townspeople, young and old.

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