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Madison-Kipp Clean Air Act violations: MEJO response to Kipp CEO

Madison-Kipp Clean Air Act violations: MEJO response to Kipp CEO

Madison-Kipp Corp President/CEO Tony Koblinski responded to our post regarding the EPA consent decree for his company’s Clean Air Act violations. Here is our response:

Dear Mr. Koblinski: We offer the following responses to your comments in hopes of providing some clarity as to why we are dissatisfied with the resolution of the EPA’s Notice of Violation (NOV) to Madison-Kipp Corp.

Koblinski: “This NOV is not a new matter.  It was issued to us September 12, 2012.”  

MEJO Response: Right—these violations are not new. They go back many years. For more on Kipp’s air pollution issues since 1990, and the community’s struggle to address them, see here and here.

The EPA violations occurred from 2007 (and before) through at least 2013. Kipp’s lawyers negotiated with EPA for 2.5 years after the initial violation was sent to them on Sept. 12, 2012.

In 2008, a DNR air pollution compliance engineer notified Kipp that they were using the wrong emissions factors, underestimating the stack discharges and violating their permit. However, after this engineer passed away and another one was assigned, the DNR continued to allow Kipp to use the wrong emissions factors for years, even after the 2012 NOV from EPA was issued. In 2013, DNR found Kipp in full compliance with air regulations, even while the company was still using the wrong emissions factors. DNR South Central Air Management Supervisor Tom Roushar explained in fall 2013 (about a year after the EPA NOV was issued) that it was acceptable that Kipp continued to use the 2001 emissions factors through 2013 even though their permit specified that they should use the higher 2007 emissions factors. He felt that EPA’s allegations were unsubstantiated (though oddly, he claimed not to have seen the NOV).

Koblinski: “It does not allege that we violated our emissions limits, but rather that we did not have adequate controls on our data recording, emissions factors, record keeping, calibration and plant signage.  These are technical issues which we have taken very seriously, but at no time have we exceeded our permitted emissions limits.”  

MEJO Response: Kipp’s estimated levels of air emissions, a key basis on which agencies assess regulatory compliance, are almost entirely based on the company’s own data recording, records keeping, and/or the emission factors they use. Because Kipp kept bad (or no) records on important processes that affect emission levels, and/or used old, incorrect emissions factors, inaccurate emission estimates were reported to the DNR, EPA, and the public for over five years. These are not just minor “administrative” or “technical” issues.

In 2012, Representative Chris Taylor asked the DNR to require Kipp to measure the actual emissions from its stacks. The DNR responded by saying that the extensive recordkeeping required of Kipp was superior to testing emissions. Shortly thereafter, the EPA issued its notice of violation because Kipp was neither conducting its required recordkeeping nor filing correct reports.

Here’s one example of the consequences of using an incorrect emissions factor. Because Kipp used a 2001 emissions factor for chlorine that was 5.8 times lower than its 2007 permit required it to use, chlorine wasn’t reported at all on several air emissions inventories between 2007 and 2012 even though it should have been; incorrect chlorine emissions factors produced inaccurate chlorine emissions estimates that were lower than DNR reporting thresholds. Stack tests done in 2014 as part of the recent NOV showed that Kipp was emitting almost 12 times more chlorine than the 2001 emissions factor they used from 2007 to 2013 predicted they would emit.

Kipp also used 2001 emissions factors for dioxins through at least 2012, even though a more appropriate stack test in 2007 showed dioxin/furan emission levels orders of magnitude above the levels found in 2001 tests. Dioxins (and closely related compounds, called furans) are highly toxic at extremely minute levels—much, much more toxic than chlorine and even the tetrachoroethylene (PCE) Kipp workers dumped onto the ground for years. Even though Kipp stack tests in 2001, 2003, and 2007 showed that Kipp emitted dioxins/furans (and emissions factors increased with each test), none of Kipp’s air inventories have ever reported dioxin/furan emission levels, because using the old emissions factor kept the estimated emission levels under the DNR’s reporting limit. DNR was either oblivious to Kipp’s method of keeping their emission off the public air inventories, or decided that this was acceptable.

Kipp was also found in violation by EPA for not maintaining accurate records of its “Hazardous Air Pollutant” (HAP) emissions, which include a number of other highly toxic chemicals emitted from the factory.

Again, these record-keeping and reporting issues are not minor technical matters. Given the decades of community concerns about dioxins, chlorine, and other hazardous air pollutant emissions from Kipp, and hundreds of complaints to government agencies about strong chemical odors and health effects in the neighborhood, these reporting issues are very problematic, whether or not emission levels exceeded regulatory limits (which studies show, for many of the contaminants emitted Kipp, are too high to adequately protect public health).

Considering the discovery of extremely high levels of contaminants in soil and groundwater at Kipp, is it any surprise that Kipp did not maintain the records needed to show it complied with air pollution control laws? Pollutant levels reported to the DNR for air inventories are the only way citizens have to know what hazardous pollutants Kipp is emitting and at what levels. Kipp knows that and has worked hard to keep these chemicals off air inventories, in part, by using incorrect emissions factors. According to DNR, in 2007/2008, industries lobbied hard to not be required to report emissions below reporting limits (as they had been before). DNR allowed this.

Violations led to increases in actual emissions

Some of Kipp’s violations likely led to actual higher emissions of hazardous air pollutants, not just incorrect emissions estimates. The lubricant used to make aluminum castings is evaporated and partially burned, then exhausted through the roof. Rather than actually capturing and controlling the die lubricant emissions, diluting the die lubricant is the method required by DNR for reducing emissions from the die casting process. One of the EPA violations against Kipp was not diluting the die lubricants as much as required in its permit, resulting in higher VOC and other toxic emissions from die casting.

Other violations included not recording how much they diluted the die lubricant and/or not calibrating their die lubricant mixing equipment correctly—in other words, not following the emissions control method they are required by the permit to follow. These die casting violations are not minor technical issues. The “waxy/oily/burnt” and “metallic” smells neighbors have complained of for years are primarily die casting emissions. According to EPA, the top eight Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) air releases reported from aluminum die casting industries in the U.S. are: aluminum (fume or dust), trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, zinc (fume or dust), copper, hexachloroethane, glycol ethers, and zinc compounds.

Actual emissions from Kipp’s die casting processes have been measured only sporadically and incompletely over the years inside the plant—and not for many years. In 1994, an OSHA inspector measured “oil mists” and “release agents” from die casting processes made up of metals and numerous organic compounds, including: aliphatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic alcohols, acetic acid, organic acids, butyrated hydroxyl toluene, long chain aromatic compounds, fatty acid methyl esters, propylene glycol, hydroxytriethylamine, methyl styrene, 1-2-2—methoxy-1-methyl-ethoxy-1-methylethoxy-2- propanol, and several “unidentified compounds.” The “condensate of mold release agent” contained “50% gray metallic flakes” made up of lead, aluminum, zinc, copper, and iron as well as “small particles, oily or greasy substances” and “brown particles.”

The 2001 “Madison Kipp Corp Exposure Assessment,” done by the Madison Public Health Department listed the following emissions measured above Kipp’s die casting machines in 1998: 1, 1, 1 trichloroethane, benzene, toluene, 1, 2 butadiene, hexane, ethanol, acetone, and several “unknown alkanes or alkenes.” Other reports and studies indicate that aluminum die casting emissions may also contain other very toxic chlorinated compounds such as chlorinated paraffins, PCBs, and dioxins/furans (as far as we know, these compounds have never been tested for in Kipp’s die casting emissions, inside the plant or from the stacks/vents).

During the 2011 inspection by EPA, the inspector noted “hazy air” in the die casting areas in both the Atwood and Fair Oaks facilities. This “haze” is the “oil mist” or die cast emissions, made up of many of the hazardous air pollutants listed above. Workers inhale this mist. It goes out open doors and windows and into roof vents and stacks uncontrolled. That’s why the odors are so strong in the neighborhood on some days. Again, Kipp has never characterized the chemical components of their die cast stack emissions or reported them to the DNR, nor has DNR required them to do so.

Prior to 1995, the “oily mist” from die casting was primarily vented through the doors and windows into adjacent backyards. At that time, after hundreds of neighborhood complaints, Kipp installed many roof vents sending the die casting fumes and the waxy odor further through the neighborhood. Only in 2007 did DNR recognize that Kipp was violating the 1971 air quality standards and required taller stacks rather than simple roof vents, in order to disperse the die casting emissions higher and further away. Current emissions factors for die casting are based on stack tests done in 1994 (that did not assess chemical components of the emissions).

Die casting emissions deposit on Kipp’s side walls and roofs, are washed off during rain/snow, and go into the storm drain system and eventually to the raingarden and/or Starkweather Creek and then Lake Monona. Kipp doesn’t test the chemicals in its stormwater runoff, so we don’t know what contaminants are going into the raingarden and the already highly impaired Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona.

Koblinski: “Under the direction of the EPA we completed new stack testing in May of 2014 and further verified that we operate within a fraction of our allowable emissions levels.”

MEJO Response: In the May 2014 EPA tests, the Atwood aluminum furnace stack emissions were tested for chlorine, hydrochloric acid, PM (particulate matter) and PM-10 (particulate matter ten microns or less in size). The Fair Oaks stacks were tested only for PM/PM-10. The smaller, more toxic components of particulate matter (PM 2.5) were not assessed at stacks from either facility. Dioxins/furans were not tested. Aluminum salts were not tested. No other hazardous pollutants were tested. Die casting emissions were not tested. Therefore, we have no idea whether Kipp was “within a fraction of allowable emission levels” for small particulates and many of the other hazardous air pollutants they emit.

The allowable emissions levels in Kipp’s expired air pollution permit are no basis to judge if the surrounding neighborhood is safe. The discharge limits were established to meet the old air quality standards. All the stacks on Kipp’s roof were designed to comply with the 1971 air standard for PM. The DNR’s own analysis shows current permit limits are not sufficient to comply with modern air quality standards for fine particles or PM2.5. Die casting emissions factors are over two decades old.

The community has asked repeatedly over the years that Kipp more completely characterize die casting emissions and update die casting emissions factors. Given that several of Kipp’s EPA violations had to do with issues that would affect die casting emissions, it is problematic that die casting emissions were not part of the stack testing done for the NOV. We don’t know why, but Kipp’s lawyers likely negotiated them out of the agreement if they were ever on the table for consideration. Further, originally the EPA planned to test dioxins/furans to resolve this Notice of Violation. However, Kipp’s legal team talked them out of doing dioxin/furan tests some time in 2014 (based on MEJO communications with EPA).

Koblinski: “I approached the Goodman Center to see if they had an energy efficiency project that I could help them with and ultimately agreed to pay $80,000 towards their needed chiller upgrade…”  

MEJO Response: We think improving energy efficiency is very important, but this Goodman Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) does nothing to reduce exposures to Kipp’s toxic pollution (as described above) among the children who play at Goodman just feet from the factory. Also, it makes it even more likely that Goodman leaders will not raise any questions about Kipp’s pollution. Madison-Kipp, its wealthy owner Reed Coleman, and/or the several foundations to which Mr. Coleman funnels his wealth, have supported the Goodman Community Center with funding and other types of support since it was located next to Kipp and before that when it was the Atwood Community Center. This is one reason the Goodman Center leaders do not raise concerns about Kipp’s pollution, and dismiss or ridicule those in the community who do raise these concerns. The Goodman SEP is, in effect, more hush money to Goodman. What a boon for Kipp—congratulations!

Meanwhile, the SEPs Kipp agreed to didn’t consider in any way the concerns and suggestions of many people in the Kipp neighborhood for over two decades. Since the 1990s, hundreds of Kipp neighbors have asked for more monitoring, better emissions and noise controls, and a variety of other actions to reduce or eliminate the noise, odors, and toxic pollution from Kipp. In most cases, their concerns have been dismissed or ignored by Kipp (and DNR).  

Koblinski: “The violations indicated in the NOV did not “expose residents and children at the center to harmful pollutants” as they were administrative in nature and we have always operated well within the limits of our permits (in fact less than 4% of our total allowable).

MEJO Response: As outlined above, the violations were much more than just “administrative” and likely did result in higher emissions of some hazardous air pollutants, which continue to be emitted from the factory at unknown levels. Close neighbors of Kipp, including many children, and children playing at the Goodman Center, are among the most exposed and the most vulnerable to these hazardous pollutants released from stacks and vents just feet away from where they live and play.  

Koblinski: “The EPA did not make a “surprise, unannounced visit to our facility,” rather the inaccuracies in our reporting were discovered through the standard annual reporting that we do to the EPA and subsequent information exchanges throughout 2012.”

MEJO Response: This EPA document about the Jan. 12, 2011 inspection of Kipp describes the inspection as “unannounced.”  We don’t think EPA would lie about this.  

Koblinski: Lastly, I would use this opportunity to indicate that we are progressing well on a number of fronts as we take responsibility for the unintended environmental impacts caused over previous decades.  

I won’t list all of the actions taken and completed as those are documented through various reports submitted to the WDNR and posted to their site.  Work still ahead of us includes:

– Some additional soil remediation (removal) work remains to be done in the storm water ‘bio-basin’ (Rain Garden) and adjacent bike path.  

– We will be bringing the Ground water Extraction and Treatment System GETS on line later this month to pump and filter PCE impacted groundwater.

– We are working with WDNR and EPA to resolve remaining PCB issues under our plant.  

We will, of course, continue to regularly monitor and verify our network of wells and probes to ensure there is no risk to public health.  

MEJO Response: Please share with the neighborhood and public the most recent documents about these activities—especially those regarding the continued removal of PCB contamination from the raingarden/bike path and also under the factory. What work remains to be done and why? Please share any available data.

A representative from the Madison/Dane Co Board of Health recently reported to the Madison Committee on the Environment that all the PCBs at Kipp have been remediated. Obviously, this is incorrect. Recent documents about these activities are not posted on the DNR website. People in the neighborhood, and the public officials who serve them, need to know about ongoing remediation of highly toxic soils going on right in the middle of where they live, work, and play (children are playing at a splash pad just feet from these PCB remediations!).

Sincerely,  

Tony Koblinski

President/CEO

Madison-Kipp Corp.

tkoblinski@madison-kipp.com

MEJO Response: Thanks, Mr. Koblinski! Drop us an email any time if you have further questions or comments.

Sincerely,

MEJO

info@mejo.us


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EPA fines Madison-Kipp for air violations; Goodman Center gets A/C in the deal!

EPA fines Madison-Kipp for air violations; Goodman Center gets A/C in the deal!
[ABOVE] The view of Madison-Kipp Corp. from the Goodman Community Center; PCBs are being removed from the rain garden in the foreground

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Madison-Kipp Corporation for Clean Air Act violations from 2007 through 2012. While it could have been fined $37,500  per day for each violation, Kipp got away with paying a $35,000 fine, and agreeing to install energy-efficient windows in its factory and to pay for new air conditioning at the adjacent Goodman Community Center!

That’s right: a community center gets new air conditioning because a factory repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act. [This is not an Onion headline!]

From the EPA Administrative Order: “On behalf of the Goodman Community Center, a not-for-profit organization located in Madison, Wisconsin….respondent [Kipp] must…provide funding to replace, in whole or in part, a faulty and inefficient tandem chiller with a more energy-efficient unit…Respondent must spend at least $80,000 towards this….”

So Clean Air Act violations occurred for five years, affecting the Atwood neighborhood, exposing residents and children at the center to harmful pollutants, and the “penalty” is air conditioning for the center. WTF!?!

All the while, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources didn’t notice these Kipp air violations. If not for concerned residents asking for it, the EPA never would have made a surprise, unannounced visit to the Kipp factory and uncovered the problems.

The Clean Air Act violations agreements can be  can be found here:

EPA Administrative Order re: Madison-Kipp air violations (March 31, 2015)

EPA Administrative Order re: Madison-Kipp air violations (April 6, 2015)

 

 

 

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Neighbors Settle for $7.2 Million But Many Kipp Environmental Injustices Still Not Addressed

The immediate neighbors around the Madison-Kipp Corp. factory settled their two class action lawsuits on Monday, July 15. The immediate neighbors and their attorneys will receive a total of $7.2 million and there will be additional pollution remediation at those plaintiffs’ properties. The $4.6 million federal court settlement can be found here; the $2.6 million state court settlement will be posted later.

Meanwhile, Kipp continues to pollute; nothing about its operations has changed and existing PCE plumes and PCB problems continue to affect children of color and the elderly at the Goodman Community Center (a neighbor that did not join the class action lawsuit), as well as Lowell Elementary School,  adjacent businesses, a wide swath of the surrounding Atwood neighborhood, a water well and Lake Monona.

A partial list of ongoing concerns:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to negotiate with Madison-Kipp about the EPA Notice of Violation issued last fall regarding serious air pollution violations involving chlorine, dioxin, and other hazardous air pollution emissions.
  • The PCB remediation around Kipp continues (will DNR ever test for dioxin, a contaminant found in PCBs)? Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals ever studied
  • Preferential pathways for PCE contamination (utility corridors, sewers, storm drains) were never addressed at Kipp. So the full extent of shallow contamination offsite is unknown–which means the full extent of vapor intrusion in homes and businesses around Kipp is also unknown.
  • The extent of the PCE plume still isn’t fully defined; How deep is it? How far north does it go? How far south? Has it reached the lake?
  • Children at the Goodman Community Center are building raised-bed gardens about 50 feet from the most contaminated area at Kipp
  • High levels of contamination sit right under Goodman’s Ironworks Café. Nobody has assessed the depth of this contamination and whether it is causing vapor intrusion in the café. Why not?
  • The Wisconsin Department of Justice lawsuit regarding PCBs is still active
  • The Madison Water Utility is still unsure if it can use Well 8, down plume from Kipp’s PCE contamination and next to Lake Monona in Olbrich Park

To date, no public agencies nor elected officials have addressed–or even mentioned in reams of reports to date–pollution exposures to children at the Goodman Community Center and Lowell Elementary School. Are they completely unaware of what environmental justice means?

When will this change?

 

 

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Ignorance is Bliss (Series Supplement)

Remember the Kipp Dioxin Debacle?

Lo and Behold, Kipp Has Been Producing Dioxins All This Time! (shhhh…..)

Dioxin from Kipp’s Stacks? An “Urban Myth” of “Misinformed Activists”!

The issue of whether or not Kipp produced dioxins was a focal point of citizen activism around Kipp for years (see previous article). Throughout the 1990s, many citizens in the Kipp neighborhood1 asserted that dioxins were produced by the factory, but Kipp denied the possibility that the factory could produce them. In 2000, citizens formed a group called Clean Air Madison (CAM), which organized meetings, wrote letters and press releases, and held protests about Kipp’s air pollution.

Read: MEJO Ignorance is Bliss Special Supplement 1

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Ignorance is Bliss (Part 3 )

Toxic Contaminants at Madison-Kipp? Don’t Worry, There’s No Risk!

Overview: Toxic Contaminants From Above and Below

The U.S. EPA Notice of Violation that Madison-Kipp Corporation (Kipp) received in September 2012 raises many questions about the factory’s ongoing toxic air emissions and health effects among people living, playing, working, and going to school near Kipp—especially kids, elderly, ill, and other vulnerable people in the neighborhood. Lowell School, with an over 50% poverty rate, and Goodman Community Center, which serves many minority and low-income children, are right next to the factory. Knowing what’s really coming out of Kipp’s air stacks is more important than ever given what’s now known about the toxic brew of chemicals that has been spreading in soils and groundwater beneath the plant and seeping into neighborhood homes and buildings for decades. People in the Kipp neighborhood are exposed to numerous toxic chemicals from below and above—not just one chemical at a time. How is this affecting people’s health in the neighborhood? Nobody knows…

The recent EPA notice cited Kipp for inaccurate calculations and shoddy (or absent) record-keeping that could underestimate or hide emissions of hazardous air pollutants, especially chlorine, hydrogen chloride, and other highly toxic chlorinated compounds such as dioxin. EPA also cited Kipp for questionable practices inside the factory that could increase their emissions of toxic compounds. Yet this is nothing new. Kipp has shoddily reported, or failed to report, its toxic emissions for decades, making it next to impossible to assess what people in the neighborhood are exposed to day after day. Over the years, former Kipp workers and government employees have reported sloppy and unsafe practices inside the factory—including ongoing spills, broken and leaky storage containers, and the burning of dirty scrap in aluminum furnaces (a practice known to produce dioxin). The company has had numerous fires, accidents, and OSHA violations.

Meanwhile, for decades hundreds of citizens in the Kipp neighborhood have complained of toxic fumes and noise at Kipp, and raised questions about emissions of harmful chlorinated compounds such as dioxin. Countless health complaints and letters have been submitted to government agencies by citizens, including many asking for more thorough air monitoring and health studies. Hundreds of citizens have packed public meetings on Kipp.

Though a few government agency representatives have expressed some concern and taken some actions regarding Kipp’s pollution throughout all these years, for the most part public officials and agency representatives seem to be more interested in defending Kipp and assuring citizens that the factory poses low or no risks, even when abundant evidence exists to the contrary. Several health studies have been considered by public health agencies, but were dropped.

In 2013, decades after citizens first started raising questions about Kipp emissions—and in the midst of citizen lawsuits and EPA violations against the company—we still don’t really know how much dioxin and other hazardous pollutants are spewing out of the factory’s many stacks and pipes. Nobody knows exactly how deep and wide the plume of toxic contaminant the originated on the Kipp property decades ago is, even though that information is essential for assessing exposures and risks to people living around Kipp—and to the environment in Madison. Why not? And why do our government agencies seem more interested in serving and protecting Kipp, and other polluting industries, than in protecting the citizens they are paid to serve?

Parts 3 and 4 in this series focus on citizens’ struggles to address the factory’s pollution—and how Kipp and local and state government agencies have responded to citizens. Part 3 focuses on the period roughly between 1990 through the early 2000s, and Part 4, which will follow in coming weeks, will cover the early 2000s to the present.

Full article: MEJO Ignorance is Bliss Part 3

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Ignorance is Bliss (Part 2)

Forgot to follow Wisconsin pollution laws? No worries, DNR doesn’t mind

In a previous article (below and here), MEJO explored whether the Goodman Community Center, built on a contaminated former industrial site, followed DNR statutory requirements they agreed to follow when excavating on the site after remediation. The DNR confirmed in Januray 2013 that the Goodman Center did not follow relevant laws. Will the DNR cite them for ignoring these laws? No. Apparently, following DNR laws is optional.

To recap: According to an Oct. 24, 2008 letter from the DNR, when doing any excavation on contaminated areas that have been capped—which includes most of the site—Goodman Center owners are required by DNR statutes to:

Sample and analyze excavated material to determine if residual contamination remains (or assume that it is contaminated and manage it accordingly)

  • If sampling confirms that contamination is present the property owner, determine whether the material would be considered solid or hazardous waste
  • Assure the all current and future owners and occupants of the property are aware that excavation of contaminated soil may pose an inhalation or other direct contact hazard and take special precautions during excavation activities to prevent health threats to humans
  • Keep an up-to-date maintenance plan and inspection log on-site regarding the contamination cap and/or barrier and make it available to all interested parties
  • Worker (in hard hat, bending over) working below grade at Goodman Center (October 2012)

Under “Prohibited Activities,” the 2008 DNR letter states that the following activities require prior written approval from the DNR:

Removal of the existing barrier;

Replacement with another barrier;

Excavating or grading of the land surface;

Filling on capped or paved areas;

Plowing for agricultural cultivation; or

Construction or placement of a building or other structure.

In 2008, when the Goodman Center property purchase was finalized, Goodman leaders signed documents agreeing to follow these laws, intended to protect people at and near the center from exposures to contaminants. MEJO’s review of DNR files revealed no documentation that they have followed these requirements for any of the several projects done on the property since 2008, including some excavations in fall 2012. Did they sign these closure agreements just for show?

Dumpster full of soil excavated from the Goodman site. Where did it go? Was it contaminated? Should it go to an hazarsous landfill? We’ll never know. (October 2012)

After numerous inquiries from MEJO, the DNR site manager for the Goodman site finally confirmed this month that Goodman Center leaders did not notify him prior to the start of their September 2012 excavation projects (nor earlier excavation projects, presumably, since there were no documents for those either). The Goodman executive director talked to the DNR about the statutes they are required to follow—but not till two months after the projects were completed and MEJO asked several times to see the required documents (which neither Goodman nor the DNR were able to produce). By that point, the soil had been hauled away to landfills without required contaminant testing. Clearly the DNR did not review any soil testing results nor issue approval letters before these projects were initiated, as the law requires.

Will the Goodman Center be cited—or reprimanded in any way—for violating DNR laws it agreed to follow? No. The DNR site manager assured us that everything was fine because “Based on our discussion the work crews who did the excavation were familiar with the site conditions and knew of the contaminated soil and the restrictions associated with managing the soils.” Moreover, the site manager concluded, he does “not consider this a significant issue, particularly since the work || crew knew they could potentially encounter contaminated material and the site had a cap that needed to be restored.”[1]

Maybe these workers “knew of the contaminated soil and the restrictions associated with managing the soils.” Maybe not. We’ll never know. However, if they did know of these statutory restrictions, why didn’t they follow them? And, isn’t it Goodman Center’s responsibility—not the workers’ responsibility—to make sure relevant DNR laws for the site are followed?

Goodman Excavation3| | Workers excavating and sweeping up afterwards. Did they know they were digging up contaminated soil? We hope so…| |

Goodman Excavation4

We hope these workers did in fact know they might encounter contaminated material, especially since one of the areas excavated was where the highest levels of PCE were found on the site during pre-closure testing. Clouds of dust were visible as workers excavated and swept up the site. But without testing the soil first, as legally required, how could they know whether or not the soil they were digging and breathing was contaminated and at what levels?

Further, contaminated site requirements are about much more than protecting the workers excavating the soil for relatively brief periods of time. What about center employees, café customers and, most importantly, the children using the center—especially those children playing 50 feet or less away from the excavation?  Apparently, neither DNR nor the Goodman Center is concerned that there was no testing of the soil before excavation and disposal, and that no information was provided to employees, customers or users. The DNR does not mind that the Center did not take required precautions to prevent contaminant exposures to children and others. 1

It seems, sadly, that despite statutes intended to protect the environment and public health, in practice, responsible parties such as Goodman Center (and the large polluting industry next door, Madison-Kipp Corp.) can ignore these laws and DNR project managers have wide discretionary powers on whether or not to enforce violations.[2]

Some may argue that the infraction at Goodman Community Center, a relatively small contaminated site, is inconsequential. We strongly disagree. Wisconsin DNR laws for contaminated and remediated sites such as the Goodman Center are intended to prevent unintentional and potentially harmful exposures to toxins among people at and near these sites—especially the most vulnerable people. Preventing such exposures is especially important at Goodman Center, which serves many low income children, children of color, and the elderly, and is surrounded by schools, daycare providers, and a neighborhood with many children and seniors.

Goodman Garden and Chicken CoopBecause Goodman Center leaders did not follow laws they agreed to follow when they built the center, we do not know whether the soil excavated from the center’s property (which likely reflects levels of contamination in soil that is still there now) was contaminated, or to what degree.[3] We do not know if contaminated dust from the excavations settled on gardens and compost piles at the center. We do not know whether Goodman Center employees, people in the Ironworks Café, or children playing a few feet away inhaled contaminated dust as workers excavated soil—or what they will be exposed to over the longer-term as this dust is disturbed and re-circulated into air and onto surfaces.

Food pantry bread and produce out during adjacent excavation–free for the taking (October 2012)

Last but not least, this unfortunate situation poses broader questions. If Goodman Center andMadison-Kipp Corporation can blatantly ignore DNR laws and get away with it, how many other industries in Madison and throughout Wisconsin are allowed to as well? How many laws is Kraft Oscar Mayer ignoring? Madison Gas and Electric? When global corporations dig new mines in northern Wisconsin, will they violate or ignore DNR laws? If they do, can we really trust the Wisconsin DNR to do anything about it?

___________________

[1] If this project was intended to “restore the cap,” this is the first we’ve been told that, even though we asked numerous questions related to this for months prior to this statement. If it true that this project was intended in part to restore the contaminant cap, this poses further questions. If the cap was broken–how long was it broken, and did damage to the cap increase potential exposures to children and others near that area? Why didn’t the DNR or Goodman Center provide copies of the Maintenance Plan they are required to keep on-site and up-to-date “in order to maintain the integrity of the paved surfaces, landscaped areas and/or the building?” (Contaminated Soil Cap Maintenance Plan, Goodman Community Center, October 2008).

[2] DNR officials were not able to point to any legal documents explicitly allowing the use of such discretion in this case—or any guidelines for discretion regarding excavation at remediated sites (e.g., amounts of soil excavated below which requirements do not need to be followed).

[3] Goodman’s closure documents state that some chlorinated contaminants (e.g., PCE) beneath the Goodman property are from Madison-Kipp Corp. Perhaps this is why the DNR does not measure soils and vapors at the center despite its close proximity to Kipp? Perhaps Madison-Kipp does not want anyone to open that can of worms?

MEJO Ignorance is Bliss Part 2

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Ignorance is Bliss (Part 2 Cont.)

A Note about the Industrial History of the Goodman and Kipp sites

According to Goodman’s 2008 closure documents, previous manufacturing activities at the Goodman Community Center property included metal cutting, welding, machining, sandblasting, and painting. Several underground and aboveground storage tanks for heating oil, diesel fuel, and gasoline, and lead battery storage, were located on the property. A railroad spur was located underneath the crane gantry. Soils on the Goodman Community Center site were tested numerous times as the property changed hands.

Not surprisingly, given the site’s past industrial uses, these tests showed several toxic metals (including arsenic and lead) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at levels orders of magnitude above the DNR’s residual contaminant level (RCL) standards for human contact. In one area lead in soil was 12,600 parts per million (ppm); soils in other areas had lead levels in the several hundreds and/or thousands of parts per million. The RCL for lead in soil is 50 ppm. Past testing showed that some soils and groundwater at Goodman also had elevated tetrachloroethylene (PCE) levels. Closure documents suggest that PCE in groundwater there is from Madison-Kipp Corporation; however, MEJO’s investigations indicate that past industries at Goodman may have also used PCE.

Most of the surface soils at the Goodman site were removed and/or capped before the site was developed, as the October 2012 article below describes. Goodman closure documents state that “contaminated soil at the site was removed to a depth to allow at least 1 foot of impervious paving materials or 2 feet of landscaping materials.”  Soils were not removed or capped at all in the area where the compost pile and chicken coops are currently (see Oct. 2012 article below). This area was highly contaminated with lead, arsenic, and PAHs.

The last time Goodman soils were tested was in 2007, before the site was remediated and re-developed. No testing was done after remediation excavation. DNR laws requiring testing of soils excavated on remediated sites are intended to assure that there is no remaining contamination and/or that no new contamination has been deposited since the last testing. Hopefully, given that children play on this property, and some food is grown there, little residual contamination remains. But wouldn’t it be best to be sure—in other words, to follow the laws requiring testing when excavating—than to just assume things are OK without any testing?

Of course, soils and groundwater at the adjacent Madison-Kipp Corp. property—only a few feet away from the Goodman Center property—are known to be highly contaminated with PCE, PCBs, several toxic metals, and numerous other contaminants. Kipp’s many air stacks emit chlorine, hydrogen chloride, dioxins, metals, volatile organic compounds, fine particulates, and more; these air pollutants are inhaled by people living and playing nearby, and deposit on soils surrounding the plant (including at Goodman). Goodman leaders knew about Kipp’s air emissions when they developed the center, but decided this pollution was not a significant concern for kids who use the center.

Did the DNR let the then community center leaders know about the spreading contaminant plume they had been documenting beneath Kipp (since 1994) when they purchased the property for the Goodman Center development? And, given everything that has happened since the site was developed, why isn’t the DNR demanding that Kipp test further to the north to see if the plume has traveled beneath the Goodman site? Why aren’t Goodman leaders asking DNR and Kipp to test to assure that the contaminant plume isn’t under their center—and vapors from this plume aren’t being released into the building?

MEJO’s investigations to date suggest that Madison-Kipp Corp. may be pressuring the DNR not to test too far to the north towards the Goodman property. Why? Is the DNR bowing to pressure from Kipp instead of doing the right thing and testing to make sure kids and others at Goodman are not exposed to toxic chemicals?

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NEXT IN SERIES: What about Kipp’s air pollution?

While the recent public focus has been on Kipp’s soil and groundwater contamination, there are just as many unanswered questions about how the substantial air pollution from Kipp’s facilities might affect vulnerable groups in the neighborhood—and everyone living and working nearby. Kipp’s air stacks emit fine particulate matter, several chlorinated compounds (including dioxin), heavy metals, and numerous other pollutants into the air around these facilities every day. Minority and low-income children at Lowell School and the Goodman Center are already at higher risk for asthma and respiratory problems, so they are even more vulnerable to exposure to these air contaminants.

Addressing questions about how Kipp Corporations’ air pollution affects people in the neighborhood is particularly relevant now, since Kipp just received a “Notice of Violation” on Sept. 4, 2012 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with implications related to their emissions of hazardous air pollutants, especially chlorinated compounds.

 

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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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Greenwashing and Doublespeak in Wisconsin Highway Plan

The price tag for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation two-decade, three-phase plan for the reconstruction of the Verona Road and West Beltline interchange in Madison , Wis. , has risen to $500 million.

A presidential executive order requires that environmental justice concerns be addressed when using federal funds; and there are environmental justice concerns: the DOT plan calls for increased air pollution that will put an already at risk neighborhood even more at risk, ignores key air pollutants, and does not require air monitoring or a health impact study.

What right to clean air and moderate noise pollution does the poorest neighborhood in Madison have? Apparently none.

By taking a greenwashing approach to its environmental justice mandate, the Wisconsin Dept of Transportation makes it abundantly clear that local residents may have a say over a pedestrian path here or there (and get a free meal at meetings), but have no say in the health impacts caused by greater pollution and higher noise levels over the coming decades.

By a torturous path of doublespeak, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has stated that the predicted air pollution increases are acceptable and will not negatively impact residents in the Allied and Dunn’s Marsh neighborhoods adjacent to Verona Road .

For details on the problems with the plan, see MEJO’s Dec 17, 2010 comments on the Department’s draft environmental impact study here: MEJO Comments on WisDOT SDEIS 12-17-10

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