Letter to WA State DOH & EPA Re: Funding to protect Northport WA residents

December 15, 2011
To:
Marc Stifelman,Toxicologist – U.S. EPA, Region 10
David McBride, Toxicologist –  WA State Dpt. of Health

Re:  ASTHO Funding Opportunity for Northport Project / Air Monitoring Concerns

Dear David & Marc,

I realize that the EPA is currently in the process of conducting the Human Health Risk Assessment of recreational use of the Upper Columbia River/Lake Roosevelt Areas.

Although I am thrilled that a more comprehensive study is finally being done regarding the possible health issues associated to the elevated levels of toxins discovered in decades of the different studies done by the EPA, Ecology, DOH and the USGS, (just to name a few).

However, I am still disappointed in the fact that the Human Health Risk Assessment is still only focusing on possible health risks to recreational users.  I do think this  is an extremely important issue, especially since the areas major source of income is tourism and recreational use of the beautiful area, and being able to ensure visitors that they are safe, if their exposure is limited to 35 days of the year, is very beneficial and important.

My concern lies in the health and safety of the 350+ residents of Northport, and the other small communities and tribes along the Upper Columbia River who are exposed 365 days of the year, and are exposed to areas found, in past studies, to have higher levels of toxins than the areas studied in the EPA’s 1993 RI/FS and Teck’s current RI/FS (the 15 beaches, river sediments, boat launches and campgrounds, the 3 found to be the worst contaminated being located in Northport).

My biggest concern is to see that, (per the current version of the HHRA work plan), there is no future plans to do further air monitoring in or around Northport.  This shocked me as all four phases of air monitoring Ecology completed in and around Northport from 1992-1997 showed levels of arsenic and cadmium to be extremely elevated and higher than all recommended safety levels for both acute and chronic exposure.

The results of elevated toxins of concerns found in phase 3 were actually reduced by 73 -87%, (based on information Teck provided Ecology on what they anticipated the levels would be once the installation of the new Kivcet smelter was completed, in 2 years).  Based on these inaccurate levels Ecology not only approved the revised permit Teck requested, but published those false numbers in their report which gave them no reason to recommend to the DOH and EPA a need, or even a raise a red flag to these Agencies, the need for another health assessment that desperately needed to be done in the area.

The phase 4 air monitoring was then planned specifically to ensure the reduction of the actual elevated toxin levels Ecology used in the phase 3 air monitoring report were correct, once the Kivcet smelter had been installed and in use, as Teck had promised they would be. Phase 4 showed that arsenic and cadmium levels continued to exceed safety recommendations, as a matter of fact the levels had not changed at all.

The Phase 3, as well as Phase 4, air monitoring reports indicated that long term air monitoring would have to be conducted by Teck, with monthly, (eventually reduced to quarterly), reports of the monitors collected data to be forwarded to Ecology for review.  There was never any follow up on any air monitoring done after Ecology completed Phase 4 air monitoring and published the report.

Northport no longer even has an air monitor.  The closest US air monitor is in Colville, 35 miles away.  When I contacted Ecology recently about the location of Teck’s air monitors, and the possibility of getting copies of the quarterly reports they had received from Teck since 1997, I was told they had no data and they were not even sure if Teck had any air monitors in the area

This astounded me.  Obviously they had not been monitoring the quarterly air monitoring reports Teck was to provide them as indicated in both phase 3 and phase 4 of their air monitoring reports, which means no one had been monitoring the possible danger Northport residents were in

What confuses me the most is Ecology did not think it necessary to have their own air monitors in, or even near, Northport – which their testing had proved the extremely elevated levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air.

Finally, with the recent surfacing of many health clusters in the community, along with the current RI/FS being done by Teck (based on the agreement reached between the EPA and Teck in 1996), as well as the current HHRA being conducted by the EPA, how is it that none of the involved State agencies discovered the fact that there had been no follow up to the promised air monitoring to the Northport community, and the fact that, based on the levels of arsenic and cadmium recorded in the 4 air monitoring reports done between 1992-1997, that monitors needed to be installed immediately, if not for the safety of the residents then at the very least to do an accurate HHRA?

Instead the HHRA states that no further air monitoring is necessary in the Northport area, based on the data they have from the previous 4 air monitoring studies done by Ecology.  If the HHRA is going to base their decision on the data from those 4 air monitoring reports, then (based on Health Risk Assessment Guidelines) the EPA should have began an in-depth HHRA of the Northport community, meaning the 350+ residents who had been, and continue to be, chronically exposed to high levels of arsenic and cadmium via inhalation AND multiple other routes of exposure – not to mention their exposure was not limited to arsenic and cadmium alone, but to several other heavy metal toxins.

I was hoping that possibly the local Health Agency would be willing to submit Northport for the ASTHO funding project (see background below and link to full document).

The Background for the ASTHO/CDC/NCEH/HCDI Project:
“The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ National Center for Environmental Health/Healthy Community Design Initiative (CDC/NCEH/HCDI) will fund and support up to two (2) state or territorial health agencies (STHAs) to do at least one of the following: 1) conduct one Health Impact Assessment (HIA), or 2) conduct one HIA training. The primary purpose of this RFP is to build capacity for conducting HIA among STHAs through a hands-on, project-oriented approach. HIA targets can originate from a variety of sectors, but those with an environmental health focus will be given preference (i.e. transportation, land use, housing, parks, agriculture, or energy).” 

To read the full report go to:

http://www.astho.org/Display/AssetDisplay.aspx?id=6578

The funding could be used to either install air monitors, and/or assist in conducting or financing research for The Northport Project plan (see below).  The Northport Project plan would not only benefit the community by providing early detection of possible health diseases and illnesses, as well as proper management of the illnesses, but would also provide much needed data in a long term study of health impacts triggered or caused by chronic exposure to multiple toxins, via multiple routes – resulting in providing the research and information needed to ensure that the safety levels of chronic exposure to specific toxins are accurate, and if they are not the data will assist in correct levels to be implemented, which will save thousands of lives throughout the Country.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Jamie Paparich

__________________________________________________________

WHAT IS THE NORTHPORT PROJECT?

“Once you have discovered the cause you have discovered the cure.”

The main goal of the Northport Project is to provide Northport, Washington residents with accurate health information, educational workshops, FREE annual health screenings, and the opportunities to participate in programs such as the Cumulative Impacts Project, which is dedicated to bringing together scientists, researchers and communities affected by chronic exposure to environmental toxins.

EDUCATE

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the later ignorance.” – Hippocrates

Small communities are finally getting the chance to have a voice. The Northport Project will supply residents with informative, educational programs to help them better understand what toxins they have been, and currently are being, exposed to while providing ways to aid them in protecting their health. Most importantly, it will give the residents with health issues a chance to receive free medical assistance, as well as provide free annual health screenings and physicals to all Northport residents. Due to the many health issues linked to chronic exposure to the toxins found above safety levels in their outdoor air, water and soil, the free annual health screenings and physicals will monitor the health of Northport residents and hopefully catch diseases, cancers and illnesses at an early (and treatable) stage.

Although many diseases, cancers and illnesses have already been diagnosed in residents, past and present, early detection will save lives.

PROTECT

“Many can help one.” – Unknown

The data collected from each health screening will remain confidential, but can be used in a long term study to follow trends of diseases, cancers and illnesses found in communities with residents who are chronically exposed to multiple heavy metal toxins released via multiple routes from Teck Smelter. The results of a study like this will provide an opportunity to correct the current safety levels set for toxins while also pinpointing and discovering illnesses found in clusters when chronically exposed to toxins. Each resident’s confidential health history can save millions of lives – not only now, but for the future generations ahead.

It is undeniable that the health issues, diseases, and cancers found in the Northport area are extremely high; some of the illnesses exceed the CDC/DOH/ATSDR standards used to classify health clusters. A non- infectious health cluster is the occurrence of a greater-than-expected number of (non-infectious) health issues found in a populated area. These clusters are what scientist use to try to find possible environmental links that cause or trigger these illnesses (also known as an epidemiological study).

Currently physicians with the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Massachusetts General Hospital are conducting an epidemiological study on the cluster of diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in past and present Northport Residents.

Other diseases, illness, and cancers exceeding amount of past and present residents diagnosed to be considered non-infectious health clusters are: multiple scoliosis, Parkinson’s, leukemia (chronic), brain tumors/aneurisms, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, bladder, cancer, breast cancer, thyroid diseases, arthritis, and several other auto immune diseases such as nephritis and diverticulitis. All of these have been linked to the multiple toxins (specifically arsenic and cadmium), which the Northport community has been chronically exposed to for decades. However, free annual health screenings would lead to early detection of most, if not all, of the health issues. Early detection is the key to surviving any illness, disease, or cancer.

EMPOWER

“Blame is safer than praise.” – Ralph Waldo

Free annual health screenings for the residents of Northport will also provide a database for a long-term epidemiological research study that toxicologists and scientists admittedly are in desperate need of. The results of the diagnosed issues from the years of the resident’s annual health screenings will provide accurate data as to whether or not the current safety levels for chronic exposure to these specific heavy metal toxins are correct. The data collected from the screenings could also assist in identifying other illnesses, diseases and cancers that chronic exposure to the toxins of concern either cause or trigger and what, if any, genetic mutations they create.

The blood, urine and hair testing done as part of the free annual health screenings will provide researchers accurate toxin levels in each resident from both acute and chronic exposure. This information is critical in finding the correlation between specific toxin accumulations and specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies. It could be possible that simple vitamin and mineral supplements could cure, or at least ease the symptoms of, some chronic illnesses.

IMPACT

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not. ” – Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax”

Not only will free annual health screenings help protect the lives of Northport residents, the data collected will advance the much needed research needed in this area. From evaluating current toxin safety levels to discovering specific health issues triggered by the toxins, linking the response the toxin accumulation has on vitamin and mineral depletion or toxicity may possibly be a way to cure these diseases or alleviate the symptoms they cause. In addition, by discovering the genetic mutations caused by chronic exposure to not just one but multiple toxins through multiple routes of exposure, it may provide a way to cure these diseases as well. Most importantly, the health screenings will keep the Northport residents healthy and safe, while giving them a chance to help save the lives of so many people by allowing their health issues to be used in such a noble research effort.

The Northport Project can turn the negative impact Teck’s careless decades of pollution has caused to their health and lives into a positive effect by allowing their annual screening results to be confidentially used in one of the largest research studies of its kind.

THE FUTURE OF NORTHPORT

“A Beautiful Town, Getting Better Everyday!”

Northport is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Our family never plans to sell the family farm or leave the area. We also want to see Northport grow through tourism and local businesses.

The Northport Project does not want to scare people away from visiting, moving, or living in the Northport area. We want to make it clear that visitors are in no danger of enjoying the many recreational activities our area has to offer; several studies have proven that annual recreational exposure to the area does not pose any health risks at all.

However, The Northport Project also wants to make sure the future and current residents, who are exposed to the toxins 365 days of the year, are protected so they can continue living in the town they love so much.

THE NORTHPORT PROJECT

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The Northport Project wants to provide opportunities to empower and protect current and future Northport residents.

We plan to do this by asking residents to participate in the kinds of studies and research investigations that will offer free health screenings and support to them, as well as utilize the health information gained from their participation to help protect the health of future generations of people not only in Northport, but also throughout the world.

Please visit our blog at:   http://www.northportproject.com
To Contact us send e-mails to:   northportproject@hotmail.com

 

2 responses to this post.

  1. Jamie,

    I want to clarify that our Human Health Risk Assessment will include several exposure scenarios and is not limited to recreation.

    From our HHRA Work Plan:

    Scenarios for exposure may include:

    􀂃 Short-term and long-term recreational activities (e.g., camping, fishing, hunting, boating)
    􀂃 Tribal cultural/ceremonial/spiritual activities (e.g., sweat lodge use, basket-weaving)
    􀂃 Traditional or contemporary subsistence camping, hunting, fishing, and gathering activities
    􀂃 Occupational activities
    􀂃 Residential activities

    If you don’t already have our HHRA work plan, you can get it from our web site:

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/UCR/Technical+Documents

    I’m not sure how EPA can support the ASTHO project application, but I can look into that.

    Regards,

    -Marc

    Like

    Reply

  2. Posted by Stephanie on December 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Great letter! And I love the descriptions (and purposes) of “What Is the Northport Project” – educate, protect, empower, impact! Go Jamie Paparich, GO!

    Like

    Reply

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