Verizon and AT&T Need to Clean Up Their Mess

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recenlty, Congressman Pat Ryan wrote to the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T and U.S. Telecom, demanding that they remove toxic lead cables that are poisoning communities across the United States. This comes on the back of a bombshell Wall Street Journal report that revealed hundreds of cities across the country are covered by cables leaching lead into the ground, including in Wappingers Falls. Congressman Ryan is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Water Resources Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“For decades, big corporations have polluted our rivers and our drinking water, always putting their profit above the health and safety of our community. This latest failure by Verizon and AT&T is no different,” said Congressman Pat Ryan. “It is absolutely unacceptable that their negligence is now making it dangerous for our kids to even go to the playground. They need to clean up their mess and safely remove these cables immediately.”

The Wall Street Journal found that there are more than 2,000 lead-sheathed cables across the United States, both aerial and underwater cables, that have not been addressed by either companies or by environmental regulators. Lead exposure can seriously harm children, including damage to the brain and nervous system and can even cause hearing and speech issues.

Ryan also requested answers to the following questions by July 25, 2023:

1. Do USTelecom companies have the ability to identify all lead cables that they constructed or were acquired through merger, including those near playgrounds, schools, hospitals, and major water sources?

2. How many miles of cables are US Telecom’s member companies responsible for whether through ownership or consolidation?
* How many miles of aerial cables are they responsible for?
* How many miles of underground cables are they responsible for ?

3. What are USTelecom’s plan to protect lineworkers who service or will be servicing these lines? Will they have access to both blood testing and bone testing for lead?

4. Are these lead cables still operational? If so, what services are they providing?

5. How do USTelecom’s member companies plan on addressing the environmental and public health issues posed by both aerial and submarine cables? What is the plan for remediation and will they provide remediation, including removal of all lead-sheathed cables, to any location that has any level of lead including the lead cables near the Wappingers Falls, NY playground and other locations in New York?

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