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stormwater runoff

Madison polluter doesn’t like what he reads

Madison polluter doesn’t like what he reads

Graphic from the Nov 2, 2017  Isthmus weekly newspaper

The Wisconsin State Journal published an October 28, 2017 article, “Best estimate is plume from Madison-Kipp plant could reach drinking water in 5 years,” that earned a spirited response from Madison-Kipp Corp. CEO Tony Koblinski in his open letter to the newspaper.

“Why is there a seemingly renewed effort by you and the paper to cast Madison-Kipp as a public enemy…?” — Tony Koblinski, industrialist

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.” — George Orwell, visionary author

Here is MEJO’s response to Koblinski’s letter.

 

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Community dinner kicks off new EPA-funded environmental justice project

Community dinner kicks off new EPA-funded environmental justice project

MEJO and the East Madison Community Center held a community fish dinner on September 30 to close out the Center’s Hunger Action Month activities and kickoff MEJO’s new USEPA-funded Starkweather Creek environmental justice project.  See photos of the event below.

Two hundred fish meals were served at the Saturday afternoon event, held at EMCC in northeast Madison. The theme was the shared tradition of fishing and eating fish, a nutritious, whole food that people around the world enjoy. Types of fish served included fried catfish, pan-fried bluegill (caught that day in Lake Monona!), Hmong tilapia salad, batter-fried tilapia, Lake Superior whitefish and wild rice, and Nigerian baked fish.

Other event supporters  (fish, vegetables and equipment) included Willy Street Co-op North, Native Food Network/Mobile Farmers Market, East Madison Monona Rotary, Troy Farm, Kurt Welke and local community gardens.

The event also serves as a kickoff for MEJO’s new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant for its Starkweather Creek environmental justice project to engage residents and subsistence anglers on Madison’s northeast side in learning about stormwater pollution and to build their capacities to participate in community decisions about stormwater pollution prevention. Project partners include East Madison Community Center, Northside Planning Council and the UW-Madison Department of Geography (GIS Capstone program).

People might be surprised to learn that the Starkweather Creek drainage basin includes the Sherman Village, Whitetail Ridge, Berkley Oaks and Sherman (partial) neighborhoods, as well as the airport, MATC, Truax neighborhood, East Towne and a large part of the east and northeast sides. The full drainage basin can be seen here (URL).

More information about the project coming soon.

Photos of the Community Fish Dinner are below.

People eating fish together

Dan Cornelius of the Native Food Network and Mobile Farmers Market discusses native foods that he grows in Madison

(L-R): Maria, Jim, Eric, Angelina and Ald. David Ahrens prepare food for the community fish dinner

 

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City of Madison not requiring Kipp to measure PCBs in raingarden?

City of Madison not requiring Kipp to measure PCBs in raingarden?
This pictogram was used in this post; the splash pad has since been completed

 

Since August we have tried to get the following information from the City of Madison on behalf of Kipp neighbors, to no avail.

The current City lease with Madison-Kipp Corp. for its rain garden property calls for annual testing for PCBs. The lease was signed June 4, 2015, so the first year’s baseline test results should be available.

The lease also calls for a storm water management annual maintenance certification.

We have asked the city for the annual PCB results and maintenance certification, and have received no response. The only conclusion that we can reach is that the City has not required Kipp to test the rain garden for PCBs nor has Kipp filed its required storm water management annual maintenance certification.

The tests and certification are important because 1) they’re required in Kipp’s lease, 2) Kipp’s pollution goes into the raingarden, down storm drains, and into Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona, and 3) there’s no evidence that toxic chemicals from Kipp are not continuing to pollute the watershed, let alone the raingarden, bike path, and areas adjacent to both. See this link.

The City owns the land in question, so it is choosing not to require that pollution be monitored and controlled on our public land.

If you would like to see the City follow the law and its own contract, please contact Ald. Marsha Rummel at district6[at]cityofmadison.com to request that it does so. The City drives this process and so has the power to make it so.

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Wisconsin DNR not following its own rules

Wisconsin DNR not following its own rules

This really isn’t a surprise but it’s still very disturbing.

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL   JUNE 3, 2016

WATER ENFORCEMENT | DNR DISREGARDING OWN RULES

State audit finds DNR ignoring own rules on water pollution

Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday [MORE]

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Why “safe” levels of toxic chemicals may not be safe

Why “safe” levels of toxic chemicals may not be safe

“There’s no problem; toxic exposure is too low to cause any harm” is a common response by pubic officials when citizens raise concerns about toxins in the environment, such a PCBs or atrazine.

MEJO board member Kristine Mattis explains why this assurance may not be accurate in this article published at Counterpunch Online:

Toxic Curve Ball: Why Outdated Assumptions to Determine “Safe Levels” of To…

By now, a large number of consumers are aware of the hazards of the synthetic compound bisphenol-A (BPA). Effect… [MORE]

 

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City to Lease Rain Garden to Polluter

City to Lease Rain Garden to Polluter

(High resolution version of above graphic here)

SUMMARY: The City of Madison wishes to extend a lease with Madison-Kipp Corp. through 2023 that will allow Kipp to control the rain garden it has polluted, continue to use part of the north parking lot (which it has also contaminated), and will give full credit towards its lease costs for a wooden fence that allegedly blocks sound. Meanwhile, people who live next to Kipp say that noise from the factory has been louder than ever, and often is the worst in the middle of the night. [1]

Given Kipp’s long history of polluting Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona through its unmonitored discharges into the City storm water drains (including one in the rain garden, where most of Kipp’s contaminated stormwater discharges are released), it’s curious that the City would now like to give Kipp control over this land.

DETAILS: The City of Madison has a long relationship with Madison-Kipp Corp. The city owns the land under the Kipp Fair Oaks factory and under the north parking lot at the Kipp Waubesa factory. Now the City wants to lease its heavily-polluted rain garden to Kipp for free (zero rent because of the full credit for the “sound blocking” fence).

Runoff from nearly the entire Kipp Waubesa factory property has been going into a City stormwater drain for many decades (a century?). In 2006, the City built the ill-fated rain garden where this pipe discharges, despite existing documentation of extensive PCE contamination throughout the Kipp site. This area was already leased to Kipp, so the City amended its lease, took back the land and gave Kipp a $900 lease credit. From the 2009 amended lease:

During the time of the recent construction of the new Goodman Community Center at 149 Waubesa Street, the City of Madison constructed a storm water management surface water retention facility adjacent to the East Rail Corridor Bike Path. The facility was constructed in a portion of the leased premises that the City leased to the Madison-Kipp Corporation (MKC) beginning in 1998. In order to correct the situation, it is necessary to amend the lease to remove that portion of the leased premises that the City reoccupied. The portion contains approximately 2,100 square feet and its removal equates to a permanent reduction of the annual rent of $900.

In 2012 and 2013, several toxic contaminants, including PCE, PCBs, PAHs and metals were discovered in rain garden soils (see the main graphic above here).  Soil PCB levels in some spots were many order of magnitude above DNR standards for direct contact. Several rounds of excavation have been done there, but the big question still remains: where did all this pollution come from?

MEJO has learned of a never-before disclosed Kipp factory drainage system that goes under the factory and leads to the stormwater drain and ditch (leading to Starkweather Creek, which eventually drains into Lake Monona). Historically, PCBs, PCEs, PAHs, dioxins, metals, and other unknown (unmeasured) chemicals from Kipp processes have flowed into this drainage system.

The City does not know the full extent of this drainage system and has not investigated what chemicals are currently draining into it from Kipp’s air vents/stacks and ongoing remediation projects–or what might be entering it from under the Kipp factory.

It has finally been made public that Kipp had a secret trench in its factory that drained into the City stormwater drain. EPA is now working to get Kipp to remediate the unbelievably high levels of PCBs under the factory. FYI: EPA still hasn’t settled with Kipp over its air pollution permit notice of violation. Perhaps the City should investigate the toxins going into the rain garden before it hands it over to Kipp.

City "rain garden" between Kipp and Goodman

City “rain garden” between Kipp and Goodman

Kipp has polluted this City land for a century (along with Kipp’s City-owned parking lot).  Why should the City allow Kipp to have control of public land that it has treated so badly?  Is there any evidence that Kipp can be a “good steward”of public lands? Since this land is adjacent to the City bike path and a community center, the City might be wise to keep control of it rather than allow a lessee with such a bad track record control it. Instead, this public rain garden will now become Kipp’s private property.And people who live along Waubesa and Marquette Streets, as well as those families who use the Goodman Community Center, not to mention the parents of all the children who will use the new splash pad next year (right next to the rain garden!), should know about this and have a chance to tell District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel and the City if they agree with the wisdom of giving Kipp control of more public land. There should be a public neighborhood meeting at the Goodman Center before the Madison City Council allows Kipp to lease the rain garden.

Addendum: The “sound blocking” wooden fence was supposed to be on the north boundary too (along the bike path, between Kipp and the Goodman Community Center. This wasn’t built. Here is the proposed location per the 2009 amended lease.

[1] Kipp and government agencies attribute this increased noise to the testing and construction of the groundwater remediation system. However, many people living on Marquette Street have been experiencing increased noises from Kipp since before this construction started. Also, the noise often goes all night long and people say they cannot sleep. Why does Kipp need to do this noisy work all night long?

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Where does the raingarden pipe originate? (Kipp Question # 3896? We’ve lost count…)

Where does the raingarden pipe originate? (Kipp Question # 3896? We’ve lost count…)

At long last, one MEJO question (unlike most we have asked, which remain unanswered) has been answered!! [1] Storm water runoff entering the pipe that empties into the raingarden originates at a storm drain in Kipp’s Waubesa/Atwood parking lot (see here and here; blow up to at least 200% to see map). After entering the storm drain in the corner of this parking lot, the water moves north, along the western edge of Kipp’s Atwood plant (behind all of homes on Waubesa) in an open concrete ditch and a concrete pipe beneath. The pipe then goes under the Kipp building. After going under the building, it gathers waste water from various drain pipes in Kipp’s facility and northern parking lot (including the pipe that for decades captured highly contaminated wastes from the former toxic waste “ditch” area; see story and maps here)—before it veers northeast and empties into the Kipp “raingarden” (aka Sludge Garden). As it travels behind the homes on Waubesa, it captures waste water and runoff coming off Kipp’s roof and pipes on the west side of the Kipp facility, which drip into an open concrete ditch with catchment drains emptying into the storm sewer pipe beneath the ditch. As the map depicts, here is a large “catch basin” right behind 233 Waubesa, just before the sewer pipe goes under the Kipp building.

[1] We won’t bore anyone with the long convoluted story about the rather ridiculous means we had to resort to in order to get a specific answer to this question…

Of course, this one answer raises even more “unanswered questions” Here are some from MEJO and the community:

How deep is this storm drain?? When was it built? What has drained/dumped/leaked into it over the years? What drains into it now? In what condition is it? (e.g., how leaky is it?)

Did the DNR first obtain this 1994 storm sewer map from Kipp on June 16, 2014 (after MEJO asked repeatedly where the raingarden pipe came from)? Did they really not know about the route of this storm sewer drain before?

Why don’t any of the Arcadis reports to date depict this the full length of this storm sewer? (many reports don’t show it at all)

Why doesn’t Kipp have a more recent storm sewer map? Why doesn’t DNR ask them for one? Why did DNR not share this (or a more recent storm sewer map, if they have one) with MEJO, given that our repeated questions about the raingarden pipe’s origins led DNR to ask Kipp for the map in the first place? (MEJO eventually found the map in an open records request). What do they not want MEJO and the public to know?

Did DNR ever share this map with other agencies (DHS, PHMDC, EPA, city engineering) involved in assessing the PCB contamination in the backyards of the Waubesa St homes, Kipp raingarden contamination, and/or other Kipp pollution issues?

Could this storm drain have anything to do with the PCBs found in the backyards of the Waubesa homes (excavated May 20-June 27, 2013)?

Did the PCB contaminated soils in the backyards on Waubesa Street and along Kipp’s western edge wash down into the open ditch and storm drain into the raingarden before, during, and/or after excavation? (PCB contaminated soils from the Waubesa excavation were piled on the north parking lot for a while, which also drains into the raingarden).

If DNR knew about the route of this storm drain before June 2014 (e.g., before/during the investigations/excavations of the PCBs in the yards on Waubesa Street), why don’t any of the reports on the PCB investigations on Waubesa St, which include numerous maps of this area, depict it or mention it in any way?

Where were the PCB “base” and “wall” data points in Arcadis PCB reports relative to this storm drain, the catchment basins, etc?

Could the large catchment basin behind 233 Waubesa depicted in the Arcadis map be related to the relatively higher levels of PCBs found right about at that spot?

Why does the 1994 map not depict the sanitary sewer lateral that runs in between 253 and 257 Waubesa Street—see this map. Was this sanitary lateral built later? When? Might this lateral have anything to do with the higher levels of PCE vapor found in 253 Waubesa and 257 Waubesa St. homes (subslab vapor levels in these homes were much higher than other homes on Waubesa)?

There are many more questions….please send yours to info@mejo.us and we’ll add them.

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Kipp’s Former Raingarden–Now SludgeGarden–Even More Toxic Than We Knew…

Kipp’s Former Raingarden–Now SludgeGarden–Even More Toxic Than We Knew…

Yesterday we obtained a Figure from the City of Madison with more PCB data from soils excavated from the Kipp raingarden, on City of Madison property just north of Kipp, next to the public bike path and across from the Goodman Community Center. The PCB levels found around the edges of the former garden, now a toxic pit , are even higher than those reported in our previous post.

We don’t know exactly when these soils were excavated and tested, but the figure we have was dated April 22, 2014, Earth Day. The highest level— 85 ppm PCBs, orders of magnitude above both the residential direct contact RCL of .22 ppm and the industrial RCL of .74 ppm—were found on the north side of the raingarden, near the bike path, next to the raingarden sign.

These highly PCB contaminated soils are still there; in fact, we didn’t know it, but we were standing pretty much on the 85 ppm PCBs when we took many of our photos. The areas with the highest levels will be excavated, but MGE requires a 10-foot buffer for excavation around telephone poles, and other underground utilities also have to be avoided.

All around this excavation pit, children are playing and people are walking/biking. Goodman teen workers are putting food scraps in the compost piles just feet away. Though there is a flimsy short plastic fence around the garden, there are no signs anywhere to let people know that the area is a toxic soil excavation, with high levels of PCBs still remaining.

Questions this raises:

Why are there no signs anywhere around the excavation pit/pond to let people know what is being done and to alert them to the high PCB levels there?

How deep were these PCBs found? Why weren’t other contaminants besides PCBs (PCE, TCE, vinyl chloride, metals, dioxins) also tested in the 2nd round?

How long have the City, Public Health Madison Dane County, the Department of Health Services, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Kipp, and other government officials had this excavation PCB data? Did they plan to share it with the public? Why hadn’t they as of May 2 2014? Would anyone even know about the PCB contamination that remains there if we didn’t happen to ride our bikes past the excavation and if we hadn’t started asking questions?

Did the government entities listed above share this data and other details about the excavation with people in the nearby neighborhood, neighborhood association (SASYNA), Goodman Community Center, daycares, etc? Did they engage people in the neighborhood in discussions about how/when the excavation would occur, keep them apprised of the test results, and talk to them about the best ways to communicate with nearby residents and assure that children and pets do not play in and around the excavation area?

If the areas around the telephone poles and other utilities will not be excavated, will the PCBs in those soils remain in place indefinitely? These PCB hotspots are in highly-used public areas. Will there be signs alerting people about the PCB contamination there?

What is the long-term plan for this area? If the raingarden is rebuilt (as is planned, after more excavation) and continues to gather and concentrate PCBs and other contaminants—will the raingarden have to be excavated every few years to remove the high levels of contaminants? Is this really the best plan? What does the neighborhood want?

Is it really a good idea for Goodman to build a children’s SPLASH PAD just across the bikepath from this garden, very near where Kipp stored barrels of waste in the past on what is now Goodman property?  

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Madison Kipp: Making a Beautiful Difference?

Madison Kipp: Making a Beautiful Difference?

See the beautiful difference: Kipp Raingarden to Kipp Sludgegarden.

Previous story about the Kipp raingarden here. A raingarden was built by middle school children in 2006 next to Madison-Kipp Corporation. High levels of PCBs, PCE and other contaminants were found there in August 2012, AFTER it was excavated the first time to create the garden! Another excavation occurred in early 2014 to remove the PCBs found in the first excavation.

These pictures were taken on Earth Day 2014 after the 2nd excavation. NOTE: The open pit–full of toxins–is right next to the Goodman Community Center, directly across from the compost pile area.

Kipp raingarden photo gallery is here.

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