IEL Timeline

Uniontown IEL Superfund Radiation Time Line as of 10/11/04


1984-’89 : Residents repeatedly try to get EPA to test IEL for radiation during the investigatory phase of Superfund called the Remedial Investigation, after eyewitnesses came forward regarding their seeing many tankers coming into IEL after hours bearing the radiation symbol. These witnesses told that the time frame was during the late 1960’s to early 1970’s – the height of the Viet Nam War. EPA refused to do simple and inexpensive screening for radiation during the RI/FS.

1989 : Region 5 signs off on the first IEL Record of Decision involving a clay cap, pump & treat system to isolate the tons of toxic waste I perpetuity from the groundwater and an expanded gas system.

1990 : After intense pressure from local officials, including Stark Co. Commissioners, County Prosecutor, both US Senators, ATSDR and Ohio EPA along with CCLT and our TAG experts, US EPA agreed to conduct limited radiation testing on just ground water, rather than gases and soils. NOTE: It continued to refuse to perform soil or “core sampling” despite inquiries made by the Pentagon/ Army in the mid-’80’s and Governmental Affairs (Bob Alvarez) request for a report on why Region 5 refused cores that took the agency approx. 2 years to respond to.

August 1990 : US EPA conducts sampling of IEL groundwater and sends the water to an independent commerical lab in Florida.

November 1990 : US EPA’s NAREL flies into Uniontown to report at a public meeting that it was “invalidating” the sampling, saying the wrong kind of jars were used on the Tritium. An internal Memorandum later released as per EPA Administrator William Reilly’s instructions revealed a discussion between the lab and NAREL regarding eight MAN -MADE isotopes reportedly found in IEL’s water above background that were disregarded by NAREL.

December 1990 : Region 5 changes labs, promising this would be a much better lab and better communication. The lab was located in New Mexico.

January 1991 : Ohio EPA tells CCLT it suspected the Federal EPA “had found rad” the previous August and that the State wanted to “catch” them by conducting “splits.“ The Ohio EPA told CCLT that the US EPA refused to allow themselves to be “split sampled” saying they were not going to perform any more radiation testing. If the State wanted to test, it would have to be on its own. Because the state couldn’t afford to open up IEL’s actual monitoring wells, it tested approx. 5 residential wells offsite. Of those wells, they reportedly found various man-made isotopes in RW 48 and found high Beta radiation in RW 42 at 280 – over 5 times the Federal limt. Both wells were very shallow – 30 – 32 feet deep. These first samples collected by OEPA were done in March 1991.

June 1991 : Ohio EPA samples a handful of wells again during an intense drought period. The State reported finding over a MILLION pico curies of Tritium in a private drinking water well S.E. of IEL. Aspersions were cast again by EPA on high readings found of Tritium at Uniontown.

August 1991 : Region 5 contacts CCLT in a conference call and reports that the Feds had found very high levels itself of Tritium during the second round conducted at the New Mexico lab in 12/90. These readings were many times over the Fedreal limit of 20,000 and were again in private wells that people drank from. Despite our pleas for immediate resampling, EPA refused to retest groundwater at IEL for nearly a year and ½. However, it did do a “look see” that same fall of ‘91, when it took samples from a number of exploratory boreholes. It was revealed later that Plutonium was found in these boreholes in various locations.

August 1991 : Ohio EPA asked CCLT members to “lunch” and shared the high Beta reading report with us. It also said it was very concerned about anonymously sent aerial photos sent to the State showing a desposal area in the N.E. corner. The State told CCLT it “took it to the wall” with its Attorneys. OEPA said it threatened to spend up to 2.1 million dollars in a level of effort contract to drill into the N.E. corner if Region 5 refused. Clearly under pressure, Region 5 agreed. This particular borehole was drilled in January 1992. It was revealed 9 months later via reports that NAREL found Plutonium 239 at 92 feet down on the interface of the bedrock. It is important to know that the public and elected officials were, however, not told the truth. Instead, they publicly repeated that all the radiation found at IEL was low level and “naturally occurring” NOT man-made! The 239 Pu was infact reproduced a second time via reanalysis of the same sample.

Plutonium 238 was also identified in various other exploratory boreholes by US EPA’s NAREL. Unfortunately, filtering took place and there was no accounting of how many actual filters were infact used in the field. Samples were simply marked “filter.” Years later, we learned just how crucial this omission was and the fact that “field filtration” is now widely known in the research community to grossly underestimate actual concentrations, particularly when particle reactive elements such as Plutonium are involved and colloidal materials known to be present at IEL.

May 1992 : US EPA finally agrees to resample wells at Uniontown – conveniently during the 3rd wettest season in Ohio’s history (according to Cleveland’s Dick Goddard). NAREL insisted that all its own samples had to be “field filtered.” The Ohio EPA, however, chose its first two rounds to sample whole, unfiltered groundwater. The State reported that spring of finding high Gross Alpha and Gross Beta readings from the borehole drilled into the N.E. corner that January of 450 and 445. These radiation readings were 30 times over the Federal Drinking Water limit and approx. 9 xs over. To illustrate how important the filtering issue is, a “split sample” between the State and the Feds showed Alpha at 225 vs. 6.8!

September 1992 : US EPA conducted a town meeting to present the May data. Senator Metzenbaum held a hearing that summer trying to get the 12/90 New Mexico data released as per Tom Grumbly’s urging. EPA held the data back until just hours before the September ’92 meeting. This was when we learned of the Plutonium found in the borehole in N.E. corner.

The stunning part of this period of the IEL radiation controversy was the fact that so many samples were way over the Federal Drinking Water limit and yet EPA consistently refused to conduct more sophisticated analysis to learn precisely what these elevated readings were coming from. Even back then, CCLT asked for “mass spectroscopy” to be performed. NAREL indicated that it was too expensive to do. Besides, they said, there was no need, because they had “no reason” to believe that man-made radiation was dumped at IEL! At one point, NAREL even told us that “we didn’t need to know about the junk in the water” found during filtration. CCLT responded, “Yes, we did need to know. That our citizens drank that junk in the water from private wells that were NOT field filtered!” Our concerns regarding this flawed testing fell on deaf ears, even after Dr. Marvin Resnikoff and Dr. Henry Cole wrote former Regional Administrator Adamkus and declared these tests inherently flawed because of the field filtering and therefore, invalid. This letter by Resnikoff and Cole was given to members of Congress and the media. Dr. Resnikoff told the press a criminal probe was needed. He indicated to Bobv Alvarez and CCLT that the Gross Alpha readings from one well was approx. 140 times above background. Still, EPA maintained “no problem” – it was all “natural.”

November 1992 : Ohio EPA continued to sample the correct way for this second round, collecting whole and unfiltered samples from IEL monitoring wells. It was reported from this 11/92 round that the State found levels of Tritium at approx. 6,600 and 3,300 pico curies per liter. According to literature given to CCLT by the Feds, these levels found in IEL test wells were higher than the highest levels found by the government in the 1960’s when the Feds sampled surface waters! Experts told us that groundwater should not be higher than surface water for Tritium, and Uniontown’s was. These elevated levels of Tritium, declared by the Ohio EPA to be valid and “upholdable in court,”

Before going leaving “Clean Sites” in D.C. , then president, Thomas Grumbly, after learning about the Plutonium and Tritium in the invalidated data at IEL, told CCLT his recommendation concerning the Science Advisory Board (SAB) was not enough to get to the bottom of things. Tom said the said the SAB’s powers were clearly “inadequate” and said he was going to seek a Congressional investigation with subpeona power. ( It was indeed verified that Grumbly went to Oversight & Investigations – to no avail. When Grumbly became assistant Under Secretary at DOE, he discussed his concerns about Uniontown with DOE I.G. John Layton. Records show Layton discussed IEL with former EPA I.G. John Martin. However, the focus was severely limited to whether “criminal statutes” had been broken, vs. the environmental and health issues.

Similarly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC Region 3) expressed concern about Uniontown and Wingfoot Lake near IEL being a former top secret centrifuge site. An NRC investigator read a memo he’d written to “superiors” recommending that the NRC take IEL over and have the NRC “conduct full-blown field studies; cores samples, gases and stream.” The NRC investigators initially told CCLT it went to the F.B.I. A few hours later, they called back to say they’d “misspoken” – that protocol was that the go to the EPA I.G., which they indicated they would do. Indeed, the paper trail shows that a M.K. Fayhey at the I.G. was informed by NRC.

NOTE : Have repeatedly been played down over the past decade, despite the fact that CCLT was promised by various parties like ATSDR, OEPA and US EPA that if evidence became known of indications of man-made radiation, they all would reconsider doing “cores.“

After the second round was completed, Ohio EPA removed the project manager who conducted the sampling, sent him to Cleveland, and replaced him with a project manager who agreed to change the State’s procedures to come in line with NAREL. The State then agreed to also “field filter” the remaining two rounds. We of course now know that this should never have taken place. The state was correct to begin with. NOTE: Of the monitoring wells the state sampled in August 1992 unfiltered, 100 % of the the wells showed Alpha radiation registering at least 100 pico curies. Data from 3 counties – Stark, Summit and Portage, showed that the vast majority of Alpha radiation registered BELOW the detection limit of 3.

March 1993 : Despite the fact radiation continued to show up in the sampling conducted by both the State and NAREL, it was decided everything was at or near “background” and of course, “naturally occurring” – despite the fact that further analysis was refused – despite the reports of the Plutonium found in boreholes. All testing for radiation was stopped at IEL from March of 1993 until the year 2000.

2000 : Former IEL project manager told CCLT that EPA had been “black mailed” into doing additional radiation testing at IEL by a former Ombudsman investigator (Hugh Kaufaman). The former National Ombudsman, Bob Martin, in his preliminary investigation, recommended additional testing as well, and “trenching” of the site where magnetic resitivity testing had indicated extensive metallic waste. (Ohio EPA had made this same request in fall 1991 concerning the N.E. corner where the Plutonium was found.)

Summer of 2000 : CCLT spent several weeks trying to secure proper testing that would adequately detect the man-made radiation – Plutonium, Uranium 235, Tritium and Tc 99. We were very concerned that although the initial report by the rubber companies lab indicated that analysis would be done on whole & unfiltered samples, an internal memo by EPA indicated otherwise – filtering was AGAIN ordered. This was particularly disturbing because the PRPs had switched collection methods in 1998 to Low Flow. EPA had explained to CCLT that if done properly, Low Flow would negate the need to filter IEL samples. The qualifier here is IF DONE PROPERLY. Dr. Julie W. Rice (Columbus, Ohio) reported to Lake Twp. Trustees that it appeared the wells were not be prepared for Low Flow properly – they were not being stabilized. When the crucial rounds of testing in 2000, even the Twp. Consultant, Shalala’s written comments indicated that “stagnant” water was analyzed from the IEL wells – apparently again due to poor preparation for Low Flow. US EPA Research experts told CCLT that this could significantly affect IEL’s radiation test results – it could have allowed the metals and the radiation to fall to the bottom of the wells and not be sampled!

When CCLT consulted with NRC Region 3’s head radiation experts in their laboratory, we were told that filtering “cleans up the samples” and that NRC knew of no reason to filter to prevent the “distortion” EPA was claiming would occur. NRC’s Gene Bonano said Dr. Peter Lee thought it had “something to do with EPA’s Drinking Water Standards.” When CCLT checked with the rubber companies’ own lab at Oakridge, we were told that 99% of the samples run through this lab (a lot of work from both DOD & DOE) in a year’s time WERE NOT FILTERED. This lab also said, “If you want to know everything that’s in the water, you do NOT filter.” They said the Tritium found by the State at 6,600 clearly was not “background.”

August of 2000 : When the testing began at IEL it was during a period of heavy rainfall. The Canton Rep reporter covering a press conference was told by the Twp. Consultant that seasonal testing would surely be done to address seasonal variations. Instead, after just one round, 44 IEL monitoring wells were cut out – including wells previously showing radiation from the early 1990’s like the elevated Tritium well MW 27s – gone.

November 2000 – May 2001 : The PRPs reported various Plutonium levels in IEL groundwater – all or most above the “Action Limit” at the weapons facililty, Rocky Flats, in Colorado. While US EPA could have chosen to “invalidate” this data as in did twice before in 1990, it declared this PRP data to be “valid.“ NAREL/EPA educated us at public meetings in 1992 that validation was very serious business. If the agency declared data to be valid it was “good” and “usable in court.”

January – November 2001 : An 8 month secret Justice Dept./ Region 5 probe was conducted, after former lEL landfill owner, Charles Kittinger, came before the Federal Judge, John Manos in Cleveland, and testified that helped bury Plutonium 238 cores at IEL for the government in the late ‘60s/ early ‘70 time frame (same period as the eyewitnesses seeing not only numerous tankers, but seeing the Army bring flat bed trucks with dozens of stainless steel canisters into IEL.

The Justice Dept./Region 5 and Judge Manos all discounted Kittinger’s testimony as not being credible – even though magnetic resistivity testing at locations Kittinger had flagged for the Feds indeed showed large egg-shaped “anomalies” – just as Charlie had testified under oath as burying. Furthermore, the PRP’s May 2001 data showed Plutonium 238 in test well 23 s. CCLT Plutonium expert, Dr. Ketterer, said the ratio of this reading indicates thermo electric generated Pu and not atmospheric.

Region 5’s former project manager tells CCLT about additional Plutonium being found in a so -called “background” well near the site registering 0.16. Even this reading was higher than the Rocky Flats action limit. Region 5 itself (Bill Muno – former Superfund Chief) sent CCLT “spectrographs” of IEL’s Plutonium results. It was then that CCLT’s Plutonium expert, Dr. Mark Baskaran, saw that someone had stopped the counting at merely two hours. It is believed by some that this amounted to sabotaging of the IEL samples, because it inherently caused the “uncertainty levels” to go way up. Dr. Baskaran said that had they kept counting, a nice bell -shaped curve could have been created and the desired 2 sigma count error.

CCLT’s other Plutonium expert, Dr. Ketterer, also sampled some IEL water across the street and identified Uranium 236 at approx. 3,300 times background. This nuclear material has no “regulatory” limit – conveniently. Dr. Ketterer also reported that an IEL Plutonium sample from 1990 (that EPA chose to “invalidate”) was as high as samples from the Nevada Test Site and Rocky Flats. Both Dr. Baskaran and Dr. Ketterer have recommended independent testing utilizing longer counting times, larger volumes of water and more appropriate testing methods such as Mass Spec. They are concerned about the uranium ratio which indicates man-made U 235. In a front page news story in the Canton Repository this summer (2004), the Repository independent of CCLT’s experts Baskaran and Ketterer also said that the ratio indicated non-natural materials at IEL.

September 29th, 2004 : The US EPA’ s OWN radiation consultant concurred with CCLT ‘s radiation experts, Baskaran & Ketterer, that in order for proper identification of man-made radiation, better testing needs to take place at IEL using longer count times, larger volumes of water and Mass Spec. All these things were reported as concerns many months/years ago by CCLT to EPA.

Despite the findings/recommendations in the US EPA I.G. report, the EPA I.G. refused to even recommend that such additional testing be ordered. Despite the fact that the I.G. KNOWS that CCLT has had a $50,000 grant award from a DOE settlement case from over two years ago. They surely know that this grant will expire soon, preventing an independent check on the US Government forever!

In the Akron Beacon Journal 10/6/04, the Beacon reported that the acting US EPA Region 5 Administrator, Bharat Mathur, said the EPA radiation issue has dogged Uniontown for 10 years, not because of the quality of testing or problems but because of “some individuals” unwillingness to accept (radiation) conclusions.”

Concerned Citizens of Lake Twp. challenges anyone, after reading this time line -to tell us that they agree with Region 5’s Adminstrator. We also ask anyone reading us to tells us that further testing is unnecessary.

In a column published yesterday in the Canton Repository, from the Washington Post writers group, writer David Broder concluded his article on voters and the importance of the upcoming election by saying about voters and citizens input…” They themselves are the ultimate- and only – enforcers of accountability.”

The US EPA Ombudsman/I.G.‘s failure to do what is right at Uniontown IEL Superfund proves there continues to be ZERO ACCOUNTABILTY at US EPA. CCLT and supporters will continue to fight for such accountability here at Uniontown IEL, Stark County the so called “heart land” of our country, since no one else appears to be willing to enforce or fight for accountability for our citizens- including our elected representatives at the local, state OR Federal level.