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Monday, August 16, 2010

Project Navigator Trustee Office dodges Asarco Waste and Water Contamination questions

Ms. Schell,
the following makes no scientific or "legal" sense. Surely Project Navigator can provide better answers than this and not waste our time.

See my response.

"[Project Navigator]Response: Both the GAO and EPA have fully investigated and reported on the hazardous waste issue involving Encycle and Asarco. In a February 16, 2010 letter to the EPA, several environmental groups presented eight (8) different issues they had with the cleanup of the former ASARCO site. A major request/issue was # 3B: “EPA should make public all information concerning the type, source and amounts of hazardous waste that were illegally incinerated at the facility.” In their May 11, 2010 response the EPA supported TCEQ’s determination that ASARCO was a metal contaminated site and that “EPA has no data that “product” sent by Encycle to ASARCO contained organic chemicals.


GAO did NOT investigate ASARCO. In fact, your "legal" argument is one that the ASARCO attorney himself gave me over the telephone and it is flat out wrong. If you phone the G.A.O. you will be able to confirm for yourself that the investigation was not about ASARCO but about how the military in general handled hazardous waste disposal - and that the GAO included the Asarco handling of RMA (Rocky Mt. Arsenal) waste only as one of many examples they studied. As far as the EPA "full investigation", please READ the 1998 EPA to DOJ Asarco confidential for settlement purposes only document in which the EPA stated that ASARCO had burned unmanifested illegal hazardous waste for profit for years. Rep. Reyes made a public statement soon after declaring that ASARCO had paid millions of dollars on the condition that the details of what it had done would never become public. Yet, this matter is now in the public domain with that release of the DOJ EPA asarco confidential for settlement purposes only document.

As far as your quote stating EPA has no data that “product” sent by Encycle to ASARCO contained organic chemicals. -- Please clarify -- I never asked you to test for organic chemicals from Encycle even though we know that the site is contaminated with PCB's and Dioxins (all secondary smelters are producers of the latter). I have asked our environmental agencies to test for actinides and radioactive isotopes -- and, this has not been done. So, since " their May 11, 2010 response the EPA supported TCEQ’s determination that ASARCO was a metal contaminated site" WHY HASN'T THIS TESTING (metals and transition metals) BEEN DONE?

Ms. Schell, you write that current onsite electrical workers did not contact Asarco waste [ "
PNL workers fully are trained and informed about any current or potential site hazards and are outfitted accordingly. Workers performing electrical work are not in contact with waste and therefore do not need hazmat gear to perform the work. Additionally, workers have been informed of any on site risks."]. This is inherently incredulous, Ms. Schell,
since TCEQ/EPA/Asarco have all documented the heavy industrial-levels-of-contamination at that site with arsenic, and this is odorless, tasteless and documented as being in the air there. Those workers were not wearing masks made to remove vapors or nanoparticles of arsenic.

We ask that the Trustee now address the problem honestly. The International JAC La Paz Accord group has also asked for full disclosure of the Asarco background chemicals left here from its operations. This should include testing for polonium, lead isotopes including radioactive ones, radon, radium precursors for radon, actinides including tritium, uranium, plutonium, and any isotopes from naturally occurring radioisotopes.

In regards to the ammonia-tank. I did not ask about a tank being removed. I asked why a tank was added, and what it had been used for while this site was supposed to have been "idled".

In regards to your statement that "the Trustee will maintain this storm water system through closure of the site. The storm water system that will remain after closure has not been designed yet. " Please explain to me how this present storm water system meets the conditions of the 9-2006 SW-5 permit that says that all stormwater from the Asarco site will be handled via the City stormwater system and not discharged to the RioGrande. According to your statement "SW-5 is located at the western edge of the Former Asarco plant property and discharges through a culvert below the B.N.& S.F. railroad tracks. The permitted discharge for storm water goes into the Rio Grande". THIS SITE IS NOT PERMITTED FOR DISCHARGING STORMWATER TO THE RIO GRANDE, THE AMERICAN CANAL or PAISANO.