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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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February 02, 2016

Separating Fact From Fiction

by Bob Banfelder

Oh, so many of you folks have asked for elaboration concerning the facts as they pertain to the contamination of the Peconic River and its bays. In sum and substance you had asked: "Tell me more about those articles you wrote, Bob." "How do you fight bureaucracy?" "My family and I camp, picnic, swim, and fish at Indian Island Park in Riverhead. I want to hear more about this pollution matter." "Your blog is very upsetting to me because I clam in the Peconics."

Also, a few folks wisely stated: "Although the blog isn't specifically about fishing, it is, because if we don't have clean rivers and bays then we won't have any fish or shellfish to enjoy anymore."


Bunker die-offs are occurring more frequently in the Peconics. This die-off reached all the way out east to Mattituck on both shores. Said Christopher Gobbler, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, "I've seen small kills around here but I've never seen anything like this." We also saw a terrapin turtle die-off this past year.


Enzo Magnozzi and Bob with a couple of nice weakfish. We would all like to see more of this—not like the top picture of the die-off.

And so you shall hear more about this debacle.

I'll begin at the beginning. As many of you know, I am a mystery/thriller novelist as well as an outdoors writer. Referencing my fiction, I weave topical facts throughout my works. Eight of my nine novels are of a rather dark nature; they portray serial killers. Two of those novels are award-winners, one of which is titled The Author. I got the idea for the story surrounding facts that you are now somewhat familiar with—the Peconic River plume. Here is how the story came about in a piece that I wrote for a prestigious literary site. What you will read here concerning the Peconic River is sheer fact, not fiction.

A Toxic Plume and A Serial Killer Thriller

April 1, 2009

Back in 1991, Donna and I were very fortunate to find a slice of heaven. We purchased a home situated on the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island. A recent article titled Toxic Plume Threatens Peconic River, published in our local newspaper, The News~Review, caught my eye. Donna and I fish the Peconic River and the bays beyond, so this story certainly grabbed my attention. It is quite evident that the defunct Grumman airfield in Calverton, where aircraft for the United States Navy were built, commencing in April of 1954, has significantly contributed to polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. The culprits were chemicals used to clean those airplanes. I've been addressing this matter for years. Senator Charles Schumer has called for the Navy to commence a clean-up operation of the site to prevent further damage to the waterways.

Referencing serial killers, I research and delve into the slick, sick mind of the serial murderer. In order to build verisimilitude into my works, I attend trials; for example, the Robert Shulman serial killer proceedings. I have lectured at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Ward's Island, New York, regarding that trial. I had made it my business to interview heads of law enforcement such as Detective Lieutenant John Gierasch, head of Suffolk County Homicide (now retired). Too, I sought out many peripheral players. You may be asking yourself, "But what does a toxic plume have to do with serial killers?" My thriller titled The Author explores an apparent psychopath who is ostensibly obsessed with the pollution of our environment and brutally murders the loved ones of those he deems guilty, while those actually responsible live to suffer interminably. Initially, the police believe they have an eco-terrorist on their hands, but authorities, along with my protagonist, Justin Barnes—a covert operative for Suffolk County homicide—soon discover that they are dealing with a prolific serial killer.

The Peconic River has been in the news many times concerning heavy metals that are harbored in its depths. That is what motivated me to write The Author. I write to entertain, but I also write to educate the reader.

Suffolk County, Long Island is a magnet for cancer. That is a fact. I delve into the issue with devastating documentation. Too many lives succumb to this dreaded disease, which was my impetus for writing The Author. The United States Navy, in its naiveté and neglect, deserves, to a large degree, blatant blame and the shame in polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. This is but a facet of cause and effect.
…….
What will follow is a piece titled
The United States Navy's Poisoning of the Peconic River
Fact, not fiction. Stay tuned.



Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)

February 01, 2016

Playing the Trump Card

by Bob Banfelder

Comments received from readers referencing my January 4th report for Nor'east Saltwater, titled Really? really got me to thinking broadly outside the box. Some folks were totally nonplussed to learn that not only does the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant pollute the Peconic River by dumping raw sewage into her, but that the United States Navy had released toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) two hundred (200) times New York State's allowable drinking water standard. The plume was discovered in 2009. These decades-old heavy metals, dating back to 1954, created a toxic plume in the Peconic River, polluting area ground water wells in and around Calverton/Manorville. The matter was further compounded by the fact that the United States Navy initially refused to do anything about it until push came to shove. Many of us fought indefatigably. Only then did the Navy reluctantly act. I had written ten articles covering this issue for Red Room, a prestigious online literary site. Corrective measures were finally taken, but to date (seven years later) it is still not a fait accompli. Area residents have been handed a double whammy, a two-fold punch hitting virtually each end of the Peconic River. While several concerned folks responded by writing comments on Nor'east Saltwater referencing last month's report, a good-many friends and acquaintances commented via telephone. Issues like these only get resolved when people unite and take action.

In handling such serious matters, some people start the ball rolling by contacting their elected state senators, representatives, and/or local legislators. It's often a long and grueling process before anything—if at all—ever gets done. Trust me. I've battled bureaucracies and have the scars to prove it. Other folks may wait until the penultimate hour and address the matter indirectly by casting their vote at the ballot box, hoping that their do-nothing politician(s) will be voted out of office, praying that their candidate of choice will bring about positive change. This brings me to the next point—voting in general. By way of confession, I'm about to go out on a limb here, but I feel that I must.
Going Back In Time

I have never voted in a presidential or mayoral election [the latter when having lived in New York City]. As a matter of fact, I had never voted locally until most recently (2015). The latter was my vote cast for a Republican challenger to the office of Riverhead Town Supervisor; the councilwoman lost to the incumbent. But she did the right thing by fighting for the right reasons on other important issues for her constituents. Therefore, she had Donna's and my vote.

Referencing my reluctance to vote in a presidential or mayoral election is based on my experiences in having worked on the 1964 Barry Goldwater for president/1965 William F. Buckley, Jr. for mayor (N.Y.) campaigns. Yes, I realize that I'm dating myself. My reasons for not voting were simple. Although both gentlemen were good men and told it like it was, neither stood any chance of winning. As a matter of fact, on the light side, when Bill Buckley was asked what he would do if he was elected mayor, he quipped, "I'd demand a recount." Both men were buried in a landslide victory by their opponents. I, admittedly, was a resigned defeatist. As I continued working in the political arena, it left a veritable bad taste in my mouth. Hence, I avoided voting altogether. I became indifferent.

As to how this brief confession pertains to the pollution of our precious Peconic River relates to its effluence and carries with it a different kind of contamination. That is, defeatism. Many of us have become indifferent on many important issues. Consequently, we allow for the disgraceful and dangerous inaction on the part of our federal, state, and local governments to continue on a perilous course. We allow for the press to suppress important information. For example, you do not bury an important story in the back pages of a newspaper. You do not follow with a brief follow-up piece still obscured within its pages, saying that everything is or will be okay when it is not. The Peconic River and its neighboring bays are treasures that have been and are continually being abused. ‘Keep these matters as quiet as you can until we have things worked out and under control,' is the way this political machinery operates. Only when our voices become loud enough, only when our collective voices are heard as one, will positive action be initiated and jump-start the jarring, rusty bureaucratic gears that impede and gum up the works.

Moving Forward

Allow me a moment of presumptuousness to tell you how to begin to fix anything from a dying river to a failing country, for it will take bold and broad strokes to correct the egregious wrongs that have been done to our nation and its resources. It starts with a single vote. I will for the very first time vote in a presidential election for a man who will initiate great changes sorely needed in this country of ours. I do not know Donald Trump as I knew Barry Goldwater and Bill Buckley. But I believe The Donald can get the nomination, and I believe he can be elected president of the United States. Over the course of years, I've learned to work from the top down; that is, I deal with the head and not the feet.

I truly believe that Trump will not be beholding to anyone, while other candidates, as a matter of course, must. It's the way our system works. I wish for clean waters. Donna and I wish to eat the fish and shellfish that we harvest for our table without fear of contamination.


Bob and Donna with a nice harvest of clams taken from the Peconic Bay


My fishing and clamming buddy, Paul Gianelli, hiding behind his beautiful 22-inch weakfish

While winter, for most of us, is on hold till spring arrives, I ask that you reflect on these issues. I'll conclude by saying that liberal thinking [not necessarily liberals] has put us in harm's way—referencing our airways, byways, and waterways. It's time for positive change. We the people must dramatically change current policy in order for our society to regain its strength as a polluted river must undergo positive change in order for it to return to its former sustaining self.

Important Meeting Notice

Donna and I will be attending the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan Public Meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd at Suffolk County Community College, Culinary Arts Center, 20 East Main Street, Riverhead. This meeting is being hosted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council.


Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)





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