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As a resident of Mantua, I am extremely upset at the biased, inaccurate, and outdated article by Dave McKenna (“Crude Awakening,” 11/8) on the status of the Mantua community and the impact of a petroleum leak from a tank farm in nearby Fairfax City. The article dredges up old news and portrays Mantua as still having a big problem. The spill was discovered over six years ago, and a lot of positive events have occurred since then. You are about four to five years too late in your reporting!
To set the record straight, you should be aware that the spill is estimated by EPA and other sources at less than 5 percent of the amount that you reported in your very misleading headline. Only about 20 (or fewer) properties are actually affected, roughly 1.5 percent of the community. There is no outbreak of leukemia or any other disease. In fact, the community was given a safe health report by a panel of prominent physicians who were chosen by agreement of all parties involved. To imply that there is any ongoing health risk is inaccurate and clearly not shared by the residents or health authorities. Further, there is no evidence of any adverse impact on the lush vegetation throughout the community or even in the small area that is directly impacted.
Although Star Texaco is involved in the real estate market, they do not have the extensive control that you imply. Star only owns three of the approximately 40 homes for sale in the large Mantua community, not “most of the properties,” as you reported. In addition, they own far fewer than the 100 homes that you reported, and all but 10 of those are on the two streets that were directly impacted. They are not “artificially impacting” the market and do not control 20 percent of the market, as you reported.
Your characterization of Mantua as a community that is “barely making a peep” is true today, but you missed all the action several years ago. Back then, there were hundreds of pickets protesting at the tank farm, and about 600 residents were involved in several lawsuits. Community meetings were packed to capacity. Mantua clearly pulled together in a big way!
Today’s story is that Mantua has largely recovered from the events of the past. We are working together to mitigate the stigma and to restore our reputation by providing accurate information to the public. You have chosen to turn back the clock with your misleading, denigrating article about our community. I hope that you will correct the injustice that you have done to Mantua. With or without your support, Mantuans will continue to work together to assure that the public understands the facts and that Mantua really is a great place to live!
DAVE MCKENNA REPLIES: The writer is a real estate salesman in Mantua.