Group claims Buttonwood Gateway area is contaminated

READING, Pa. - Two representatives from the Reading-based citizens group "We The People Citizens" shared their concerns Monday about Reading City Council's unanimous decision to restore the R3 designation to the Buttonwood Gateway area.

The gateway is defined on the city's zoning map as the area north of Buttonwood Street and south of Lafayette Street, between Gordon and Tulpehocken streets, and along Johnson Street.

Evelyn Morrison shared with council members copies of a report that the group created with research regarding the American Chain and Cable Company and the Cabot Corporation, both of which once occupied the site. She called the area a hotbed due to contamination from radiation, beryllium, uranium and thorium.

"We are talking about some major contamination in the Buttonwood Gateway area, and there's no money and there's no remediation that can remedy it," Morrison said.

She said the report includes nuclear regulatory assessments and the Pennsylvania Department of Health highlights regarding the various types of cancers. Morrison said as the group has begun researching former residents of the area who have since died.

"I find that these bodies were wracked with various types of cancers," she said.

"We're not going to tolerate homes being built that poor people have to buy and then find their children the next generation of casualties when it comes to contaminated lands," she said.

Council President Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. said restoring the R3 designation "hasn't changed what might be there."

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