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Kipp’s Contaminant Plume Under Goodman Center–Are Children Exposed? Nobody Knows…

Kipp’s Contaminant Plume Under Goodman Center–Are Children Exposed? Nobody Knows…

Documents from Madison Kipp’s consultants, released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) June 21, 2013, show that Kipp’s plume of toxic volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) is beneath the Goodman Community Center, and PCBs were found at levels above the residual contaminant levels (RCL) in the shallow soils along between the bike path and Kipp’s northern property line—just feet away from where teens recently built raised-bed gardens next to the bike path on the Goodman property.

Sadly, these findings are no surprise. DNR and local and state public health agencies have known about VOC hotspots on the north side of Kipp, and the soil/groundwater contaminant plume, since the 1990s.  The plume under Goodman should have been fully mapped before the property was purchased for the center in 2005, but was not. The center building should have been tested for vapor intrusion before it opened in 2008—and if not then, in more recent years—but was not.  Levels of PCBs, PAHs metals, and other contaminants in soils on the Goodman property should have been tested before excavations and garden projects, but were not (violating DNR laws; see previous article).

Are children, teens, and elderly at the center breathing toxic VOCs? Are they working with PCB, PAH and/or heavy metal contaminated soils in raised-bed gardens? Nobody knows. Nobody has measured, and apparently nobody plans to. Why not? Because government agencies just know there’s no problem!

Last fall John Hausbeck, from Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC), assured Goodman Community Center Executive Director Becky Steinhoff that “health hazards related to PCE and PCBs…do not exist at Goodman.” He said MEJO statements raising concerns were “alarmist” and that “saying kids at Goodman Community Center are in danger is wrong.” This summer Mr. Hausbeck reaffirmed again, with no monitoring data to back up his statements, that children at Goodman are not exposed to Kipp contaminants.

In other words: if you don’t monitor toxins, health hazards do not exist! Our public health agency calls MEJO “alarmist” and “wrong” simply for raising questions. Indeed, we think anyone who cares about protecting children’s health should be alarmed by the proximity of Kipp’s contaminants to children at Goodman and lack of data on what they are exposed to. Yet the local public health department blithely dismisses the idea that there could be any exposures at all.

We do not think we are wrong for asking questions about children’s exposures to toxic contaminants. It’s our health department’s “no data, no problem” approach, in our opinion, that’s wrong.

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