The EMSL controversy has been, in many ways just astounding. Trying to wend one’s way through all the stated reasons for opposing the lab is like I imagine what swimming in a pile of dense wool would be. After reading lots of letters and articles opposing the lab, I’ve concluded that somehow crowd fear took over early and reasoning went out the window. 

I say this because the general tenor of commentary seems to start with “I don’t like it in my backyard! I’m going to find some reasons why!” Then we get this, that or the other statements about the economic plan for Madison Street or the need for retail, or any number of other things. It’s all reasoning that starts with a conclusion and then goes looking for supporting “facts,” a method of argument many of us learned long ago is a logical fallacy. 

I have no stake in this. I don’t live in south River Forest. I live in, for lack of a better locator, middle River Forest. I do, however, want my community to be welcoming to legitimate, beneficial businesses. I also want my community not to be ruled by baseless fear, particularly fear that is clothed in pseudo-scientific or pseudo-economic garb. 

EMSL Analytical currently has a facility at 2225 W. Hubbard in Chicago. I’ve checked various state and city of Chicago safety agencies, including the Illinois EPA. EMSL Analytical has — get ready for it — zero complaints against it for at least the last three years. More to the point, EMSL is a prominent go-to lab the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois use in determining levels of hazard in many buildings, in spills, and in various other environmental problem areas. 

A facility like this could actually be of great benefit to River Forest and surrounding villages, cities and towns, providing nearby testing for such problems as basement radon, asbestos contamination in private and public buildings and the like. 

It will not be releasing toxic gases or effluent from the roof or the toilets or the side door. That sort of idea is beyond silly. It is in business to measure levels of toxicity and to find ways to abate them, not to create them. 

So please, River Foresters, find your better angels and please stop making us look foolish. If there are actual, verifiable environmental reasons to oppose EMSL, please state them. That hasn’t happened yet. Oh, and by the way, don’t go back to the supposed damage to the economic plan for Madison. That won’t fly any more than opposing a bank would. 

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