Letters to US EPA Region 5 Re: IEL Toxic Gasses & 5 Year Review Requirements

Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in Letters | 0 comments

Given significant public pressure, after EPA had played down the content of what might be found in the IEL gases, repeatedly claiming back then, (in the mid 80s), it was just good old garbage dump methane, Region 5 miraculously chose to reverse a decision it had made prior to not conduct VOC testing/ chemical analysis on IEL’s gases, (during Superfund reauthorization when funding was tight they had claimed), and the Region decided to test for other constituents besides methane due to public/media pressure. From that testing, EPA indeed learned that at least 24 VOCs accompanied the methane, including Phosgene nerve gas. Yet, initially, an outside gas contractor US EPA had hired from Lorton, Va. in attending one of our many public meetings, trivialized the VOC’s concentration.…However, years later, he returned to Ohio and our TIC meeting, in approx. 1992, and in a stunning reversal of sorts, he informed us that the IEL landfills gases were ranging 8 – 9 % for Volatile Organic Chemicals, whereas, he told us that at a “typical” landfill, they would expect to only see VOC concentrations in a landfill gas at around .1 % . ( His name was Jim Walsh, if you have trouble finding the file, I believe his firm was called SES).

Read the full letters here and here

 


 

Sent: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 11:18 am

Subject: IEL toxic gases & the last Five Year Review done

 

US EPA Region 5

Karen Cibulskis,  IEL Project Manager

 

Re:  Why is EPA claiming “methane is the only contaminant of concern in the landfill’s gases” ?

 

Dear Ms. Cibulskis,

In the below brief memo you sent us yesterday, you stated that as IEL’s current project manager, your understanding of the IEL is that “methane is the only contaminant of concern at the site in the landfill’s gases. ” As a follow up to what we sent to you yesterday and your supervisor, here is some additional information for you to retrieve from various files, that should be of assistance to you to get up to speed quickly.

Given significant public pressure, after EPA had played down the content of what might be found in the IEL gases, repeatedly claiming back then, (in the mid 80s), it was just good old garbage dump methane, Region 5 miraculously chose to reverse a decision it had made prior to not conduct VOC testing/ chemical analysis on IEL’s gases, (during  Superfund reauthorization when funding was tight they had claimed), and the Region decided to test for other constituents besides methane due to public/media pressure.  From that testing,  EPA indeed learned that at least 24 VOCs accompanied the methane, including Phosgene nerve gas.  Yet, initially,  an outside gas contractor US EPA had hired from Lorton, Va. in attending one of our many public meetings, trivialized the VOC’s concentration.…However, years later, he returned to Ohio and our TIC meeting,  in approx. 1992, and in a stunning reversal of sorts, he informed us that the IEL landfills gases were ranging 8 – 9 % for Volatile Organic Chemicals, whereas, he told us that at a “typical” landfill, they would expect to only see VOC concentrations in a landfill gas at around .1 % .  ( His name was Jim Walsh, if you have trouble finding the file, I believe his firm was called SES).

Also in your search, we would request that you likewise contact the US EPA Emergency Response people in Gross Isle Michigan, Bob Bolus and Bob Buckley, if they are still around.  They were in charge when ER came into IEL to address the EPA’s immediate concerns regarding explosiveness.   They told us similarly,  while they would expect a typical landfill to generate about 70 % methane, they  advised us the IEL was ONLY generating around 28% methane – yes, even back in the mid 1980s…They said this low methane concentration was why they were having to bring in “auxiliary fuel” to keep the gas control system going, because there wasn’t enough methane to keep it operational!  ER at a meeting told us they were very concerned about the long term – “other gases” /toxics in the gases, appearing very worried, but said “their hands were tied,” they could only deal with the short term explosiveness, because they were only by law permitted to deal with emergency situations, like explosive gases…..

IMPORTANT NOTE:  We request that you obtain the data regarding of what was found in the IEL gas vents analyzed at the lab called “PEI ” in Cincinnati.  ER’s Bob Bolus told us he had “hand delivered” a bagged sample of gases from IEL vents to that lab.  Ironically, when the Federal Judge issued a confidentially decree in 1998, the lab PEI was among those gagged.  Many wondered:  Were military type chemicals/agents found in those gases, like Kittinger later told us about that he said lawyers had quizzed him about in depositions?  We took this up with the US Inspector General regarding PEI’s gas results being gagged.  Those concerns should be found in Christine Baughman’s files at the Ombudsman’s office in D.C.

Oh, and if you review the ATSDR 1989 assessment/report done, ( found online on IEL) on around page 20, ATSDR expressed serious concern about the old gas control system not being adequate, that it could be missing significant quantities of toxic gases, recommending its expansion…So perhaps, if you don’t have enough VOC data, it’s due to the fact that the old MVS system only reportedly had a draw in from the borders of 150 feet, and was not located on all perimeters, where potentially, unknown amounts of gases could be leaving the site undetected.

CCLT TAG expert, Dr. Henry Cole and others pleaded for monitoring for toxic vapors along possible preferential pathways like sewer lines, yet, such technical workups were denied, even though shockingly, even Region 5’s  Monitored Natural Attenuation (2000, MUNO) indicates such pathways should be investigated prior to deciding upon MNA for a site…. Indeed, just a short distance away from IEL ( 3/10ths of a mile to the center of town),  EPA had reported up to 500 ppb of PCE 20 feet down in soil gases near homes in this densely populated area  ( reported in the Beacon Journal)….Quite interestingly, this same amount of PCE was reported in a gas borehole at IEL, suggesting a “steady state” for this VOC…( of course, it was naturally denied any connection to the off 500 ppb. readings  in soil gases to IEL,  even though citizens even located at the Stark Engineer’s office old sewer lines in town at a 20 foot depth that appeared to have led from IEL along the roadside.  Note:  Curiously this other  “source” that had generated these significant levels of PCE in soil vapors around homes in town was never identified, though EPA certainly tried.  Despite the readings and possible health threats posed, no additional soil gas testing was ever done for those residents to our knowledge all these years – this was an area where many cancers had been reported, including brain cancer in youth)

Therefore, when you wrote below “methane is the only contaminant of concern at IEL”-, hopefully, given the information provided to you yesterday and now today, you will better appreciate our current question regarding whether US EPA’s Guidelines for the Five Year Review were followed two years ago during your last legal review of the site, and why waiting two more years or more is clearly not acceptable.  We have been told by a top senior US EPA gas expert that indeed, at many sites US EPA investigates, NO methane is present, just VOCs….The pattern here at IEL has been, if you don’t find enough methane via the testing (that conveniently only looks for methane to begin with, and the methane concentrations were NEVER like a normal landfill to begin with) it’s rather self fulfilling, don’t you think?  We ask as current project manager that these mistakes be corrected immediately.

 

CCLT/ Uniontown IEL Superfund Site, Ohio

 


Sent: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 11:09 am
Subject: Fwd: Important request for information as per Superfund on toxic gases

Ms. Stacey Yonce, Uniontown IEL Superfund Project Manager
US EPA Region 5
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Ms. Yonce:

The Ohio EPA has recently directed us to forward the below important questions to your office at US EPA in Chicago for response because you are the “lead agency”.  Unfortunately, from what we understand from the State, when the IEL PRPs conducted gas testing some months ago, they only tested for Methane Gas, ( & apparently geared that toward the  “LEL” – lower explosive limit parameters, vs. chronic, health-based exposures pertaining to radon gas and other carcinogenic, toxic vapors).  Therefore, CCLT requests a detailed written answer from Region 5 explaining just how such limited gas monitoring at the IEL is consistent with the intent of Superfund Law pertaining to Five Year Reviews, particularly given the more recent advances at EPA related to “best available science” regarding monitoring Superfund sites for harmful toxic vapors as of 2013 (not merely relying upon methane as your indicator for the other gases, deemed “old school”).

Therefore, we request that Region 5 review the below two links provided found in our  11/6 letter to OEPA, and then we request that you please specifically respond as to how only requiring the IEL PRPS to test for Methane Gas was scientifically appropriate for the most recent IEL Five Year Review, reportedly conducted in approx. 2011),  in adhering to the scientific standards/decision-making as outlined in those documents.  Surely IEL warrants such proper, up to date science for these going technical assessments, after US EPA intentionally chose to allow the entire 780,000 tons of hazardous substances to remain in place at the site in this former sand and gravel pit in the middle of this community, after EPA agreed to the polluters’ numerous requests to do away with all active remediation measures that had previously been legally called for in the IEL Record of Decision = a cap, pump & treat system for groundwater to keep the waste in isolation; and an expanded gas control system, which was sought by our national health agency, CDC/ATSDR, in order to deal with possible significant quantities of gases that ATSDR believed the old gas system might have been missing due to its limitations. With all the above now gone, instead, the IEL site is free to continue to flush into the area’s aquifer system with a high rate of flow of up to six feet per day, and, in spite of even the stunning Federal Court testimony in 2001 provided by the former landfill owner, Charles Kittinger, himself, stating under oath, that the Army buried large containers of deadly Plutonium at the site. Independent experts’ estimated up to 1/2 ton of Plutonium is buried within IEL calculated based upon US EPA/NAREL’s own validation of PRP radiation test results from 2000/01.

Again, given what all US EPA now knows to be considered best science practices in monitoring for toxic vapors at toxic sites like IEL,  especially when there are seasonal variations such as the frozen ground that takes place in Ohio many months of the year, and the number of homes in close proximity with basements, why toxic vapor testing was not done.  Also, because the Ohio Dept. of Health listed the Uniontown IEL on its 1994 Known Radiologically Contaminated Sites for the State of Ohio for Uranium and Radon Gas, and because when US EPA looked for radon at IEL, it had reported up to 3600 pico curies of Radon in IEL gas vents in approx. 1991, please be sure to include your rationale as to why Radon Gas, along with toxic vapors, likewise, was not tested for during the latest Five Year Review. Thank you.

Regards,

 

Concerned Citizens of Lake Twp. Uniontown IEL Superfund Site, Ohio

Chris Borello, President

 

SEE BELOW LETTER TO OHIO EPA FOR THE LINKS

 


 

Wed, Nov 6, 2013 10:44 am

Subject: Important request for information as per Superfund on toxic gases

OHIO EPA NEDO

Lawrence Antonelli, Uniontown IEL Project manager

RE:  IS the Uniontown IEL  Superfund site in compliance with existing best available Superfund science, ( as per info. in links below) regarding known toxic and radioactive gases at this site, including, but not limited to:  PCE, Benzene, Vinyl Chloride, 111, MEK, Dichloroethane, Toluene, Carbon Tet., Xylenes, Carbon Disulfide, Radon Gas, Phosgene Nerve Gas , Pentanes, Tritium vapors, (and other harmful gases previously found in IEL landfill gases). 

 

Dear Larry/Ohio EPA,

As you know, experts previously estimated from US EPA contractor data that the IEL generates at least 150 tons of toxic gases yearly, excluding methane….Instead of expanding the Gas Control System as required in the IEL Record of Decision and as recommended by the US Public Health Agency at CDC, “ATSDR”, the IEL gas system in mid 2000 was reportely turned off that was to mitigate migration of these gases.

Please carefully review the below links provided, particularly the second, detailingUS EPA’s Superfund Five Year Reviews and proper identification of such harmful toxic gases/vapors –  and then kindly respond to our question:  How has the Uniontown IEL Superfund Site been tested in the most recent Review Period as per law  in order to comply with this information?  If such documentation indeed exists, please list the title and date of all document(s) via email, ( which we assume should be located at the various repositories you have cited). IF such toxic/radioactive gas/vapor testing as per Superfund has not been conducted at IEL, please provide us with a full science-based explanation why not to justify this circumvention/deviation of Superfund.

 

Sincerely,

Chris Borello, President, CCLT/Uniontown IEL Superfund, Ohio

 

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/hrsaddition.htm

This website has the latest of VI being considered for 5-yr reviews.

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/cleanup/postconstruction/pdfs/VI_FYR_Guidance-Final-11-14-12.pdf

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