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Madison-Kipp Corp.

Madison-Kipp Corp. is a century-old aluminum and zinc die cast factory located in the Atwood neighborhood of Madison, Wisc. The factory is adjacent to homes, a community center, food gardens and 200 feet from an elementary school. With abutting property lines, many houses are within 50 feet of the actual factory. Pollutants include PCBs, dioxins, PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, heavy metals along with many greenhouse gases. Dr. Lorne G. Everett, an international hydrogeology expert who has investigated hundreds of contaminated sites worldwide, calls Kipp “one of the most contaminated sites that I’ve ever worked with.”

MEJO Investigates: Contamination at Goodman – Remediation plan being followed?

MEJO Investigates: Contamination at Goodman – Remediation plan being followed?

The Goodman Community Center, behind Madison-Kipp Corp. on Waubesa Street, opened its doors in 2009 in a renovated factory with industrial use going back to the 1880s. In spite of concern from neighbors that offering programs for children a heavily industrial area was problematic, the Center purchased the property and went through an environmental remediation process that included a Contaminated Soil Cap Maintenance Plan prepared by BT2, Inc. This October 2008 document includes plans for annual inspections and maintenance, including a barrier inspection log to document any breaks in the “cap” and how they were addressed.

Further, in line with this maintenance plan, the formal DNR closure agreement letter for Goodman Center reads:

“If soil or waste material are excavated in the future, then pursuant to [applicable DNR statutes], the property owner…must sample and analyze the excavated material to determine if residual contamination remains. If sampling confirms that contamination is present, the property owner…will need to determine whether the material would be considered solid or hazardous waste and ensure that any storage, treatment or disposal is in compliance with applicable standards and rules. In addition, all current and future owners and occupants of the property need to be aware that excavation of the contaminated soil may pose in inhalation or other direct contact hazard and as a result special precautions may need to be taken to prevent a direct contact health threat to humans.”

Goodman began excavation for an expanded kitchen facility in September 2012. Did they get prior written approval from the DNR for this excavation, as required? Did they test the soil before digging? Let’s hope so. But an initial MEJO inquiry at the Center indicates that no testing has been done since the original remediation.

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Community Center and School At-Risk

Madison-Kipp Sued by State and Cited by EPA

Madison’s oldest polluter, Madison-Kipp Corp, is being sued by the State of Wisconsin for PCB contamination. In early September, the U.S. EPA sent Kipp a notice of violation of its air emissions permit. And a class action lawsuit against is scheduled to go to trial in January.

After decades of activism to address Kipp pollution, neighborhood residents are finally seeing public officials take action. But why has it taken so long? And what will actually change?

Kipp is next door to Goodman Community Center, built in a renovated contaminated industrial site, and a few hundred feet away from Lowell Elementary School. Both facilities serve a high percentage of low-income minority children, who daily are put in harm’s way.

MEJO begins a multi-part environmental justice series on the ongoing tragedy that is Kipp and the Atwood neighborhood. Dr. Maria Powell, MEJO founder, discusses Kipp’s impact on the neighborhood below. And in a new project, MEJO Investigates, we look in the history of Kipp’s pollution record (see sidebar).

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MEJO Investigates 1

MEJO is reviewing more than a thousand pages of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources documents on Madison Kipp Corp and the adjacent Goodman Community Center (which is built on a contaminated industrial site formerly occupied by Durline Scales and Kupfer Ironworks).

DNR has been aware of numerous pollution issues for decades and the level of non-action is staggering. While Madison Kipp should be held fully accountable for its actions, DNR documents paint a picture of long-term institutional “turning a blind eye” to problems that neighbors have been seeking to resolve for decades.

Below are two examples of information culled from DNR documents relevant to current developments.

PCBS AT KIPP – When did the DNR know?

The Wisconsin Department of Justice filed suit against Madison-Kipp Corp. on Sept. 28, 2012. Item # 10 of the complaint reads:

“10.  On March 26, 2006, Madison-Kipp was advised by its consultant that spent oil containing PCBs had been spread at the facility as a dust suppressant.  This information was not shared with the DNR until April, 2012.” [Emphasis added]

MEJO found the March 16, 2006 consultant report from RSV Engineering, Inc. in DNR records. The report is signed by Robert Nauta, a hydrogeologist who has worked on Kipp environmental projects for several consulting firms over the years. Nauta’s cover letter of the report reads:

“PCB oils in asphalt sub-base:  Although there have been no tests to demonstrate the actual presence of PCBs in the gravel base beneath the asphalt at the site, RSV understands that the presence of potentially PCB-containing oils for dust suppressions was practiced at the Subject Property prior to paving.  However, as indicated above [reference to acknowledged PCE contamination and ongoing remediation], RSV understands that the chemical injection process being utilized for soil remediation is also capable of remediating impacts from PCB releases.”

So DNR received Kipp’s consultant’s report in 2006 and apparently no one read it! Is this an anomaly, an unfortunate situation where paperwork slipped between the cracks, and no one knew about Kipp’s PCB use?  Well, you be the judge…

LATER IN THE SERIES:

DNR defends Kipp when environmentalists draw attention to PCB problems at Kipp—“Kipp was being a good corporate citizen.”

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