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Buried Cables Leach Toxins

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, telecom companies have left behind a sprawling network of cables covered in toxic lead that stretches across the US. The toxic lead exists under the water, in the soil, and on poles overhead. As the lead degrades, it is ending up in places where Americans live, work, and play.

The lead can be found on the banks of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, the Detroit River in Michigan, the Willamette River in Oregon, and the Passaic River in New Jersey. The metal has tainted the soil at a popular fishing spot in New Iberia, Louisiana, at a playground in Wappingers Falls, New York, and in front of a school in suburban New Jersey.

There’s a hidden source of contamination—more than 2,000 lead-covered cables—that hasn’t been addressed by the companies or environmental regulators. These relics of the old Bell System’s regional telephone network, and their impact on the environment, haven’t been previously reported.

Lead levels in sediment and soil at more than four dozen locations tested exceeded safety recommendations set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. At the New Iberia fishing spot, lead leaching into the sediment near a cable in June 2022 measured 14.5 times the EPA threshold for areas where children play. “We’ve been fishing here since we were kids,” said 27-year-old Tyrin Jones who grew up a few blocks away.

For many years, telecom companies have known about the lead-covered cables and the potential risks of exposure to their workers, according to documents and interviews with former employees. They were also aware that lead was potentially leaching into the environment, but haven’t meaningfully acted on potential health risks.

Possible Preaching Angle:

In the same way, unconfessed and unaddressed sin or wounds from our past can leach toxins into our body and into the body of Christ.

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