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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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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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According to DNR’s strange math, Kipp’s PCE plume has reached or passed Well 8, but has not made it to Lake Monona…What?

According to DNR’s strange math, Kipp’s PCE plume has reached or passed Well 8, but has not made it to Lake Monona…What?

Recent updates from DNR and PHMDC (see most recent one here) on the ongoing Kipp pollution nightmare are full of careless errors, misleading statements, and critical omissions. Citizens deserve better from their public servants in government agencies.

As we wrote in our previous post, the PHMDC “evaluation” of Goodman Center splash pad health risks included incorrect “residual contaminant level” (RCL) numbers as well as other miscalculations.

DNR updates also include errors and problematic claims. Here’s one example. Answering the question posed by the community, “Will Lake Monona be affected by MKC’s groundwater contamination, since it is moving south?” DNR responded:

Before the full system of groundwater monitoring wells was in place to collect data concerning the tetrachloroethene (PCE) plume, this question was unable to be answered. Now that a volume of data has been produced by the 16 wells surrounding MKC, an analysis can be done to determine the fate of the contaminated plume of groundwater. It is believed PCE from the Kipp facility has been in the environment for approximately 40 years; the plume has stabilized. Since the regional hydraulic gradient for the deep aquifer does run southeast, the plume has extended an estimated 1,900 feet towards Lake Monona. However, because it appears the plume has stabilized, there will be no danger of it reaching Lake Monona, which is still approximately 800 feet away. Arcadis’ evaluation of the PCE plume can be accessed here.

These statements are nonsensical—here’s why:

-DNR says “It is believed PCE from the Kipp facility has been in the environment for approximately 40 years.” (DNR doesn’t say who “believes” this.) Yet countless DNR and Kipp documents say that Kipp started using PCE in the 1940s—and it is well-documented that PCE and numerous other chemicals, most of which are highly persistent in the environment, were purposely dumped from, emitted from vents, and/or spilled and leaked from the facility since then. Do the math. If Kipp started using PCE in the 40s, their PCE and its breakdown products have been “in the environment” (soil, groundwater, air, plants, fish, wildlife, people) for somewhere between 65-74 years, not 40 years.

-The DNR statement above says the plume “has extended an estimated 1900 feet towards Lake Monona.” On pg. 2 the Arcadis evaluation of the PCE plume cited says that “Municipal Unit Well 8 (Unit Well 8) is located approximately 1,400 feet southeast of the site.” Again, do the math. DNR’s statement suggests that the plume has reached or even passed Well 8 (depending on where you measure from).[1] Though many suspect that the plume reached and passed Well 8 a long time ago, this is likely not what the DNR intended to say, given that they and Kipp have stated repeatedly in recent updates that the plume has not reached Well 8. (Why doesn’t PCE show up in well tests? More on that in a future story…).

-Based on the numbers in the DNR update, Lake Monona is about 2700 feet away from Kipp measuring on a line to the southeast (going through Well 8).[2] The lake is approximately 1734 feet from the Kipp property edge on a line to the southeast going through Well 8. Even if one measures from the center of the Kipp site, the lake is not 2700 feet away.

-There is insufficient evidence to say that the plume has “stabilized.”[3] The edges of the plume have not yet been defined. Kipp’s consultants’ evaluation of the plume (link above), claiming that it has “stabilized,” uses a problematic methodology and is still under evaluation by independent experts. The Arcadis analysis has not been accepted by the Madison Water Utility as the final word on the plume.[4]

-Lake Monona is only 1550 feet from the Kipp measuring along a straight line south from Kipp’s property line. Numerous Kipp consultant documents going back to the 1990s say the shallow and intermediate depth groundwater was traveling south as well as southeast. Given the rate of travel in surface and groundwater, PCE and other contaminants would have made it to the lake by now.

-Though assessing “preferential pathways” such as storm and sewer drains by which PCE and other toxic contaminants could have spread over decades in many directions from Kipp should be one of the first steps in developing a conceptual site model (CSM)—and is among the most critical components of a CSM—DNR and Kipp have never done so (as far as we know, and we have asked repeatedly). There are many storm and sanitary sewer drains all over Kipp leading out in every direction (see here and here).

It is well documented that Kipp put PCE wastes down storm and sewer drains for decades—well into the 1990s and likely later. Contaminated soils and other materials being excavated all around the Kipp site, including some that are contaminated with PCBs and PCEs, are still going down storm drains. Some storm drains from Kipp empty into Starkweather Creek, which drains into Lake Monona. Others go to the south/southeast and empty directly into Lake Monona. Sanitary sewer drains, which send water to the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, usually leak sooner or later. Sanitary sewer drains leading out from Kipp most likely leached PCE into soils and groundwater all along their pathways, including several going towards Lake Monona.

In sum, it is scientifically unfounded to state that “there is no danger” of the PCE plume reaching Lake Monona. In fact, based on the available science, it is likely that PCE and other toxic chemicals from Kipp made it to Lake Monona a long time ago via surface water and sediments, as well as via groundwater. People who eat fish from Lake Monona, including many subsistence anglers, have likely been eating Kipp’s pollution for a long time.

Sadly, since the DNR and Kipp have repeatedly refused to assess preferential pathways, and refused to test groundwater directly to the south of Kipp, we will never have any data to show whether or not that is the case.  Obviously, Kipp and the DNR do not want to know the truth about this—and most definitely do not want citizens to know.

To be continued…

[1] Even if the distance is being calculated from the purported center of the plume in the northern parking lot, 1900 feet would put the plume about at Well 8.

[2] Again, even if the distance is calculated from the center of the plume, this number is way too high.

[3] Note that even the DNR can only say “it appears” the plume has stabilized

[4] Kipp obviously has a strong bias towards concluding that the plume has stabilized and will not reach the lake. Why would the DNR indicate to the public that Kipp’s consultant’s analysis of the plume is unbiased and conclusive science—and is the final word? Who does the DNR work for—Madison Kipp or the citizens of Wisconsin? Sadly, it appears to be the former.

 

 

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PHMDC Assures Public Goodman Splash Pad is Perfectly Safe Using Incorrect Numbers

PHMDC Assures Public Goodman Splash Pad is Perfectly Safe Using Incorrect Numbers

(After this story was posted, PHMDC corrected their numbers in the document linked to below)

On August 26 the Wisconsin DNR released a public update including an “Evaluation of the Potential Health Concerns Associated with the Construction of the Goodman Center Splash Pad” by Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC).

Unfortunately, the “Residual Contaminant Level” (RCL) table in the document is riddled with incorrect numbers and miscalculations. The RCLs listed are outdated and even some of the old numbers are incorrect (or have mixed up units–e.g., the old RCL for benzo(a)pyrene was .0088 mg/kg, not 8.8 mg/kg; other RCL numbers are also incorrect). Numbers in the “estimated increase in disease risk” column are miscalculated.

The table shows that contaminants levels found in soils at the Goodman Center were large orders of magnitude higher than DNR direct contact soil RCLs, but PHMDC concludes that “patrons of the water activity”—in other words, “small children”—will not be exposed to contaminated soils, dust, and sediment during “normal operation” of the splash pad. What about when the splash pad isn’t operating “normally?” What might “abnormal operation” of the splash pad entail? The document also asserts that the splash pad water tank, buried in contaminated soil and at times submerged in groundwater, will be “impermeable.” What?!?! Everybody knows that underground storage tanks always leak, sooner or later….

To be continued…

 

 

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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?

___________________

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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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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“Invisible People, Invisible Risks”

In the new MIT Press book, Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement, the Midwest Environmental Justice Organization (MEJO) chronicles its Madison effort to raise local awareness of toxins in locally caught fish and the two-year odyssey to convince public officials to place fish consumption advisory signs at popular shoreline fishing spots.

The story is chronicled in the chapter titled, “Invisible People, Invisible Risks: How Scientific Assessments of Environmental Health Risks Overlook Minorities—and How Community Participation Can Make Them Visible by Maria Powell, PhD and Jim Powell, with Ly V. Xiong, Kazoua Moua, Jody Schmitz, Benito Juarez Olivas, and VamMeej Yang, and is part of the book Technoscience and Environmental Justice.

Excerpts from the book and more:

Invisible People, Invisble Risks – MEJO chapter in Technoscience and EJ

 

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Survey: Shoreline Anglers Eat A Lot of Fish

MEJO has interviewed 129 people and held 12 focus group meetings with 150 participants over the past two years. The meetings were held at neighborhood centers, agency facilities and public locations such as Brittingham Park . Interview were held in the same locations, plus food pantries and shoreline fishing spots. Most participants are low income, minority and fish locally or eat locally caught fish caught by members of their family

We learned the following:

  • Most people are unaware of fish consumption advisories, and no one had seen the DNR booklet or the DHFS brochure about them. (These two documents are the primary educational method used by the State of Wisconsin.)
  • Many people eat large numbers of fish weekly, especially during fishing season (which can extend from April into October). The annual average number of fish meals consumed by families is 2.8 per week. For African Americans, 2.3 fish meals per week; Hmong 3.6 fish meals per week; Latino 3.9 fish meals per week; and White 1.5 fish meals per week. Many people eat 10 or more fish meals per week, with some eating fish at every meal, every day.
  • The most popular shoreline fishing locations are around Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, with two-thirds of respondents saying they fish along these lakes. Almost fifty percent said they fish Monona Bay in Brittingham Park. Other top fishing spots are Tenney Park (Lagoon and Yahara River), Cherokee Marsh (Cherokee Lake and Cherokee Marsh/Yahara River at State Highway 113/ Northport Drive), Lake Wingra and the Wisconsin River (mostly in Sauk City).
  • Hmong prefer white bass, which is a smaller game fish that can have higher levels of some contaminants, but which is not identified on the DHFS brochure and is rarely tested for contaminates by the DNR.
  • African Americans prefer catfish (while many others also like to eat catfish). Catfish can have higher levels of some contaminants (especially PCBs), but which is not identified on the DHFS brochure and is rarely tested for contaminates by the DNR.
  • Awareness of mercury, PCBs and other contaminants in the water and fish is low, with little understanding of the pollution cycle.
  • Most people are unaware that trimming fat and removing the skin will help reduce PCBs in the cooked fish, or that mercury is in the muscle tissue and cannot be removed at all.
  • Many people do not fillet fish. Leaving the skin on, not removing fat and using fish heads in soups are all common practices which lead to greater exposure to many contaminants.
  • When shown the DHFS brochure (in English, Spanish or Hmong), many people did not find the fish they ate and therefore erroneously assumed that those fish are okay to eat (meaning they think no advisory exists for those fish).
  • People thought fish consumption advisory signs at shoreline fishing locations would be beneficial.

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