Reports are emerging through the Associated Press that the Watch Tower Society may face penalties over chemical waste that was buried many years ago near the Watchtower Farms complex in upstate New York.
The Times Herald-Record reports that several 55-gallon drums containing benzene, xylene, and other chemicals hazardous to human health have been unearthed. The drums were retrieved at three different sites across the 1,141 acre property, but the scale of the pollution and full scope of the clean-up operation is not yet known.
Matt Hubicki, a representative for the Department of Environmental Conservation, revealed that the drums were found by Watchtower volunteers during construction works. “They found some drums while digging the foundation for one of their residential facilities” he told the newspaper. To their credit, it appears the Society immediately reported the find to the DEC. Nonetheless, the discovery raises serious question marks over the Society’s environmental track record, especially given its scathing criticism of those who pollute the environment.
The Watchtower Farms site is situated in the Hudson River Watershed area, meaning that any contaminants released into the soil from the antiquated drums could easily wind up in local drinking water.
It is uncertain exactly how and when the drums were buried, but it appears that the drums, filled with chemical waste including inks and solvents, were buried over a certain period in the Society’s history dating as far back as the 70s in an apparent attempt to “cut corners” rather than dispatching the pollutants to the appropriate waste disposal facility.
The Watch Tower Society often quotes from Revelation 11:18 which reads:
But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth. – New World Translation
The above scripture is repeatedly used to show that God disapproves of mankind’s pollution of the environment, for which those responsible will be called to account at Armageddon. The Society also published an Awake article entitled “Chemical Dumps Are Ticking Timebombs” in the November 22nd 1980 issue of the Awake, which said in part:
One huge dumping site was an abandoned water canal in New York State (U.S.A.) near famous Niagara Falls. The waterway was named after its builder, William Love, who, back in 1894, attempted to join two rivers and create a model city. His dream failed and all that remained was Love Canal, an uncompleted mile-long (1.6 km) ditch, 10 to 40 feet deep and generally 45 feet wide.
By the tons, chemical waste, most packaged in 55-gallon (208-L) drums, were cast by a new owner into Mr. Love’s canal. From the 1920’s through 1953 Hooker Chemical Company reportedly admitted to dumping 21,800 tons of chemicals there. The city of Niagara Falls added its share. So allegedly did the U.S. Army. Then in 1953 this witches’ brew was covered with earth and allowed to “cook” as barrels rotted and the chemicals combined.
The land was “sold” by Hooker Chemical to the Board of Education of Niagara Falls for $1.00 (U.S.). A school and housing development were built on the site. Soon a pleasant neighborhood settled on this massive chemical graveyard.
The “time bomb” was set, and now ticking. It was destined to “explode” with such impact that this spot would become front-page news and the focus of international attention. It became what may “very well be the first of a new and sinister breed of environmental disasters,” according to a special report sent to the governor of New York State.
Does this incident provide substantial evidence that man is “ruining the earth,” unlike in any other period in history? Does it perhaps portend that soon God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth” by divine action? These are significant questions to ponder as you read what chemical wastes have done.—Rev. 11:18.
As has been mentioned, we currently have no way of knowing over what period the Watch Tower Society was in the practice of burying its chemical waste. It is likely that this illicit practice was going on as far back as the 70s. If this is true, then it would make the above Awake article, and the many more recent books and articles dealing with pollution, extremely hypocritical to say the least. – Matthew 23:27
- Chemical Waste At Watchtower Farms (Shawangunk Journal article)