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20,000 ppm PCBs under Kipp? No Worries ! “Just Ordinary Dirt,” says Kipp CEO

20,000 ppm PCBs under Kipp? No Worries ! “Just Ordinary Dirt,” says Kipp CEO

(Kipp’s CEO, Tony Koblinski, in Kipp’s corporate offices, photo from Madison.com)

In a June 19, 2013 letter to the Wisconsin DNR (first obtained by MEJO in January, 2014), the U.S. EPA stated that it informed Kipp in a meeting on April 10, 2013 (see powerpoint presented at that meeting here) that the PCB levels of up to 20,000 ppm found in soils under the factory are “too high to remain in place” because “unacceptably high exposure levels would exist if institutional controls and/or engineered barriers fail.”

The DNR’s non-industrial residual contact level (RCL) for PCBs—the level above which human contact is considered unsafe— is .222 ppm. In other words, the levels of PCBs found under Kipp are up to nearly 100,000 times above the level considered safe for human contact.  Apparently EPA risk assessors don’t think leaving these PCB-laden soils under the factory is an acceptable option, because if caps or barriers constructed to contain the soils fail, people could be exposed to extremely harmful levels of PCBs.

Soils behind some homes on Waubesa Street, just feet away from the PCB contamination under Kipp, were also contaminated with PCBs  above RCLs. Before there was any public awareness or discussion about this problem, Kipp quietly notified people with contaminated soils behind their homes, and quickly moved to excavate them. Neighbors observed that little to nothing was done to protect residents from PCB dust and runoff during excavation in June.  Getting rid of the evidence as fast as possible, perhaps?

Most appallingly, during excavation—well after Kipp had been notified of the PCB problem by the EPA— Kipp CEO Tony Koblinski had the gall to tell a concerned neighbor that the soil being hauled from people’s yards was “ordinary dirt.” When asked about the PCBs in the soil, he said “you don’t know that” and “I don’t know that.” Unbelievable! Watch it here.

Which brings us to….

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS 

As we described in an earlier post— the understaffed and overwhelmed DNR told MEJO they can’t be burdened with further questions from us (and may charge us $700 if we persist in asking them). We turned to Ask.com, but it didn’t have answers either. So we will turn to you—citizens, the public, anyone out there—for help with our questions.

Any answers to these questions?

What is the source of the PCBs under the Kipp plant and behind the homes on Waubesa Street?

A Kipp consultant report (see page 2) says that there was a road between the Waubesa Street homes and the factory at one time, and implies that perhaps it was coated with PCB oils and that may be the source of PCBs under the plant. If that’s the case, why did Kipp only share first this information in late 2013? Why did the DNR not post the report with this information on the Kipp website until months after it was released, and only after MEJO found it in the DNR files and asked that it be posted (in Dec. 2013)?

Why did DNR tell MEJO on Dec. 4, 2013 that “the source of the PCBs is unknown”—when the Kipp consultant report with the statement about the road was submitted to the DNR on Sept. 30, 2013? Do Kipp and the DNR not want the public to know about this old road? Why not?

When did Kipp first do PCB testing under the factory? How many samples were taken? Where exactly?

What is the range of PCB levels being found beneath the factory? When did the DNR and health agencies first see PCB data from under the factory?

Before being taken away to a landfill, PCB contaminated soils were stored on the north side of the Kipp parking lot for various periods of time. Were signs posted there to keep children away? Did Kipp comply with regulations (NR 714) regarding signage at contaminated sites?

Were adequate barriers placed over/around the piles of contaminated soils to prevent dust from flying up and runoff from going into the storm drains, gutters, and the nearby raingarden (found to be very contaminated with PCBs in 2012)?

Why was there no public meeting to discuss these important PCB results, with serious implications for the neighborhood, the broader community, and the City of Madison?

Why did DNR staff intentionally withhold this information from a journalist who contacted them with questions about the PCB excavations in May 2013?

The DNR told us they are meeting with SASYNA regularly. Have they discussed the PCB levels under the plant with them?  If not, why not? If so, why hasn’t SASYNA shared it more widely with the community?

Were neighbors on Waubesa Street ever notified of high levels of PCBs under the plant feet from their homes—and the future implications they could have for them? (e.g., more digging behind their homes, potential exposures for them and their children, etc.)?

What is the status of the PCB testing under Kipp currently? Will the public ever see the full results?

What is Kipp planning to do about the PCBs under their plant?

What about Kipp’s non-unionized workers? Is anyone assessing their exposures to PCBs and the many other toxic compounds being found in and under the plant? (See upcoming posts)

People out there—any thoughts? Further questions to add? Please send them to info@mejo.us

 

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