Ecology’s Air Quality Assessment Concludes Air Monitors Needed in Northport

by Jamie Paparich

 

In 2008 I began looking into the decades of toxins the Canadian smelter, Teck, had been allowed to dispose of into Northport’s air, water and soil, literally slowly poisoning us.  The further I looked into it the more disillusioned I became with our Government agencies, specifically the EPA, the ATSDR, and the DOH.  There was one agencies that surprised me.

 

The WA State Dpt. of Ecology represents the state of Washington in working with Tribal, federal, and local government organizations who are addressing imageslong-term concerns over the smelter’s contamination, on cleanup and community outreach.

 

Ecology has conducted eleven independent studies in our area evaluating smelter contamination between 1992 through 2017.  The Dpt. of Ecology surprised me because their studies were scientifically, technically, and logically well thought out and conducted with total accuracy.  The most significant difference between Ecology’s studies, as compared to the other agencies, was simple; they were ethical and honest. They did not slant their results, or blame “data gaps” as a recurring reason as to why their studies could not be completed, and they did not manipulate the wording to make it seem the results of their research was not something Northport residents, Teck, or their own agencies should be concerned with; referring to Northport as an “intermediate health hazard”.

 

Ecology’s study conclusions statethe facts, the actual levels of toxins found, and the danger the levels found of arsenic, cadmium and lead in our air and soil could likely put the residents of Northport in danger.

 

Ecology has proven again and again they worked for us, to protect us.

 

In the 4 air monitoring studies they conducted between 1992-1998 each of the studies concluded that levels of arsenic and cadmium were consistently found to be way above the Acceptable Source Impact Level (ASIL) set by the EPA.   Ecology provided their findings to the EPA because Ecology conducted these studies to provide the EPA with information as to whether or not they should allow Teck a renewed air permit for a new source (Kivcet smelter.)  Although Ecology’s results provided accurate reasons not to allow Teck a new air permit.  Instead, the EPA approved the new permit and Ecology’s air monitoring results were never discussed or shared with anyone, including the residents being impacted by the air.

 

In 2007 Ecology sampled sediments in Lake Roosevelt and the upper Columbia River.  Their results concluded that widespread industrial slag could forensically be tied to Teck Resources, and that it had contaminated the soil and water from Lake Roosevelt, up through the Columbia River to the Canadian border.  In 2006 Teck, under the supervision of the EPA, began a remedial investigation of the area.  The study is still ongoing.  What the EPA and Teck have been able to accomplish from an eleven year study is not a fraction of what Ecology’s 2007 study accomplished.

 

In 2012 Ecology conducted soil and sediment sampling in upland, non residential areas.  Teck, and the EPA, were conducting similar testing.  The levels of lead, arsenic, zinc, cadmium and mercury Ecology discovered were so high they petitioned the EPA to fast track sampling of residential soil, fearing residents exposed to these heavy metals at levels this high, specifically children, were in more danger than originally thought.

 

The EPA pushed Ecology’s petition through and Teck conducted sampling of 74 properties in 2014 and removed contaminated soil from 14 residential properties and 1 tribal allotment in 2015.  In 2016 they began a second round of residential property soil sampling.  The results of this sampling has not been published.    This would not have been accomplished without Ecology.

 

Residents of Northport have long worried that it is the air that continues to trigger the several, rare health issues a large majority of residents have been diagnosed with.  When Teck began their remedial investigation, under EPA supervision, we requested air monitoring again and again.  It was always pushed to the back burner, or we were told there was no funding, or no evidence to support more monitoring was needed….even though the monitoring done of the air by Ecology between 1992-1998 showed levels of arsenic 200 times higher than safety standards, and levels of cadmium were 18 times higher than safety standards.

 

In working with the Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC), Ecology listened to our concerns and agreed with them.  They explained that there were so many old studies to go through, dating as far back as 1931, and so many missing years not monitored, that it would be a difficult analysis to conduct.  After discovering Teck had an air monitor in Northport from 1992 – 2009 they requested those monitoring results. They then collected results of air monitoring Teck had collected near the Canadian border from 2007-2014.  Armed with studies done on our air in 1931, from 1992 through 2007, and the border monitoring through 2014, Ecology asked their Air Quality Program specialists to use this data to evaluate conditions in the upper Columbia River valley and assess whether more air monitoring is needed.

 

Based on there assessment, they concluded additional air monitoring in the upper Columbia River valley is necessary. 

 

Ecology will now share their analysis with the EPA and Teck, requesting additional air monitoring be done as a part of their remedial investigation evaluating the smelter-related pollution impacts done to our environment and health.

 

If the EPA and Teck agree to this Ecology would work with the EPA and public health officials to further assess health concerns once the additional monitoring is performed and data is collected. Ecology expects EPA would use the data to inform a human health risk assessment.

 

Without this data the human health risk assessment the EPA is required to conduct of the area would be no different than the assessments the DOH and the ATSDR conducted in 2004, invaluable, inaccurate, and a waste of more time and money.

 

Northport residents who continue to be diagnosed with the rare, similar health issues that plagued the two generations before them do not have any more time to waste.

 

A special thank you to The Washington State Department of Ecology, specifically John Roland and Chuck Gruenenfelder

“An underdog never loses, they find a different way to win the fight.”

– Unknown

Teck Smelter – Timeline of Pollution

A CENTURY OF EVIDENCE

Teck is one of the world’s largest lead and zinc smelters, located in Trail, B.C. Canada. This timeline of Teck Smelter’s pollution and accidental spills was created using data from their records and documentation of events, as well as data from The Canadian B.C. Environment Ministry and the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency.  

The below timeline does not include many of the accidental detailed air emission releases.   These emissions continues to exceed U.S. Safety Standards.  To read more about the air emissions click on the air monitoring tab across the top of the home page.

  • 1906 –   Production begins at the Trail Smelter (now Teck) in Trail, B.C. Canada.
  • 1916 –    Trail’s releasing  a monthly output of 4,700 tonnes of sulphur dioxide through air emissions.
  • 1920 –    Due to World War I the smelter’s output drastically accelerated, increasing output of sulphur dioxide to 10,000 tonnes a month.
  • 1921-2005 –  Trail’s estimate of total annual air emissions (containing zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) was 600,000 tonnes.
  • 1931 –    Trail’s fuming furnace processed 150,000 tonnes of blast furnace slag.  (Slag is the by-product of the smelting process and is a sand like material that contains heavy metal toxins.)
    • Trail’s operations expanded to include the manufacturing of ammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate fertilizer.
  • 1933 –  Farmers from Northport sue the Trail Smelter for damages the smelter’s air pollution (sulfur dioxide) caused to their stock and crops.
  • 1940 –  Teck Cominco (formerly Trail Smelter) is admittedly dumping up to 1000 tonnes of heavy metal toxins (slag) into the river daily, including 3.6 tonnes of mercury a year.

**  The explanation given to us regarding the gap of missing information/documentation from 1940 to 1980 was an inability to locate the 40 years of documentation, possibly due to a warehouse fire.

  • 1980 to 1996 –  Records show the average amount of slag Teck dumps from mid 1980’s through 1996 is 450 tonnes a day
  • 1980 –   Accidental releases into Air/River:  15 tonnes of sulfuric acid released from smoke stack, 7 tonnes of mercury released into the Columbia River (River), 500 gallons of ammonia hydrosulfide, 30 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 24 tonnes of sulfuric acid released into the River.
  • 1981 – Accidental releases in the River:  9.5 tonnes of zinc, 9.5 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 4000 gallons ammonia hydrosulfide, 93 tonnes of sulfuric acid.  
    • A memo, from Canada’s B.C. Environment Ministry, estimates Teck has been dumping up to 20 pounds of mercury a day into the river for an unknown amount of years.
  • 1982 – Accidental releases in the River:  6,330 pounds of mercury.
    • Teck does not report the massive spill to Canadian Authorities for 5 weeks. Once the Canadian Ministry notifies the United States authorities no action is taken, neither to warn residents in communities or tribes along the river, or an environmental investigation. The Canadian Ministry files a lawsuit against Teck. The smelter eventually pleads guilty and pays a $5000 fine to Canada’s B.C. Environment Ministry.
  • 1983 – 1986No recorded spills 
  • 1987  Accidental releases in the River: 15 tonnes of sulfuric acid.

  • 1988   Accidental releases in the River: 5 tonnes of zinc.

  • 1989 – Accidental releases in the River:  Amount “unknown” of Arsenic (July 17th), amount “unknown” of gypsum & phosphuric acid, (July 16th), neutral thickener – 60,000 liters, “yellow substance” – 305 meters long. 

  • 1990 – Accidental releases in the River: 31 gallons of mercury “unknown” amount of zinc (Sept. 4th), 300-400 gallons of sulfuric acid.  (Teck’s spill of 300-400 gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid is not reported until 14 hours after time of spill because, according to the B.C. Environment Incident Report, the plant’s alarm did not sound.)

  • 1991 – Accidental releases in the River: .16 mg/l of cadmium, .08 mg/l mercury, 289 mg/l of lead, 29.8 mg/l of zinc, 4.55 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 9.4 tonnes of phosphoric acid, 6.7 tonnes of phosphates, 50 tonnes of partially “treated” slag, and 50 tonnes of furnace oil.
    • Teck violates their waste management permit with a spill of zinc and cadmium. They plead guilty and agree to pay $40,000 towards a Canadian river study. Teck’s toxins impact only approximately 3 miles of the Columbia River before crossing into the United States.  However, the $40,000 study stopped at the Canadian border.
  • 1992 –  Accidental releases in the River:  132,000,000 mg/l of mercury, 214,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 476 gallons of sulfuric acid, 1.5 tonnes of phosphoric acid, 75 gallons of ammonium bisulphite.
    • Teck records indicate, on average, dumping 200 tonnes of sulfuric acid a day into the river. Their Canadian discharge permits allow this, the United States has access to these documents and the right to issue a stop, the United States never requests to see any documents.
  • 1993 –  Accidental releases in the River:  “unknown” amount of arsenic, “unkonwn” amount of cadmium, 25,000,000 mg/l of mercury, 600,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 13,000 tonnes of sulfuric acid.
    • Teck also reports an accidental spill of a large amount of sediment containing arsenic and cadmium.
    • A memo from Canadian regulators to Teck says a better river monitoring system needs to be installed.
    • Richard Dalosse, the Regional Environment Manager, also sends an internal memo to his supervisors. In it he says; “If we fail to ensure accurate monitoring of this discharge, it is possible that we could be held civilly or criminally liable.”
  • 1994 – Accidental releases in the River: .22 tonnes and “unknown” amount of arsenic, .21 tonnes of cadmium, 2,000,000 mg/l of mercury (16 exceedences for the year), 1.50 mg/l of lead, “unknown” amount of zinc, 3.5 billion mg/l of ammonia.
    • A Canadian river study, conducted under the “Columbia River Integrated Environmental Monitoring Program”, is published. It states that a significant amount of heavy metal toxins were found in river sediments south of Trail (Waneta & Northport, Washington.
  • 1995 – Accidental releases in the River 12,500,000 mg/l of arsenic, 186,000,000 mg/l of cadmium, 8,190,000 mg/l of mercury, 63,800,000 mg/l of lead, 2.5 tonnes of zinc, 1000 gallons of sulfuric acid.  (The accidental spill of 1000 gallons of sulfuric acid is reported by the smelter. Per their records the accident was attributed to “lack of attention” on part of a worker.)
    • An internal BC Ministry memo states that the ongoing mercury spills by the smelter “…..are of serious concern due to the persistence & bio accumulative nature (of mercury)”
  • 1996 – Accidental releases in the River:  640,000,000 mg/l of arsenic, 4,760,000 mg/l of cadmium, 30,000 mg/l of mercury, 30,000 mg/l of lead, 2.3 tonnes of zinc, 75 tonnes of slag.
    • Teck records show an average daily ALLOWED discharge of: 40 pounds of lead, 135 pounds of cadmium, 9 pounds of mercury and more than 16,000 pounds of zinc.
    • Teck halts the practice of dumping slag into the river, (not including the 75 tonnes spilled accidentally that year). Teck begins storing the slag, later selling it to the concrete industry.
  • 1997 – Accidental releases in the River3 tonnes of cadmium, 3 tonnes of mercury, 1.4 tonnes of lead, 500,000,000 mg/l of zinc.
    • The Colville Confederate Tribe completes a study regarding the impact of Teck’s century of discharging heavy metal toxins may have had on their environment and human health.
    • The reports concludes that between 1994-1997 Teck’s discharges of arsenic, cadmium and lead equal more than the discharges of ALL the lead and zinc smelters combined through-out the United States.
  • 1998 – Accidental releases in the River:  73,360,000 mg/l of arsenic, 26,000,000 mg/l of cadmium, 177,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 3.4 tonnes of slag.  (Although Teck claims no slag has been released into the river since 1996.)
  • 1999 – Accidental releases in the River:  29.04 mg/l of cadmium, 271,000,000 mg/l of zinc, “unknown” amount of contaminated water.
  • 2000 – Accidental releases in the River:  14,200,000 mg/l of cadmium, 350,000,000 mg/l of zinc.
  • 2001 –  Accidental releases in the River:  1,923 pounds of mercury, 529,700,000 mg/l of zinc.

**  Teck’s records show 86 accidental spills between 1987-2001, the spills listed above are the only ones that documentation could be found on.

  • 2004–  Records, released by the Canadian B.C. Ministry, estimate that Teck has been dumping approximately 1.6 tonnes – 3.6 tonnes of mercury annually into the river since 1940.
  • 2008 –  Teck records a spill of 2,068 pounds of lead and 420 quarts of acid
  • 2010 –  Teck spills approx. 15,000,000 mg/l of mercury into the river when there is a leak while employees are working on pipes at the facility.
  • 2014 –  Teck reports a spill of 12,000 and 25,000 liters of a sodium hydroxide solution

Between 1921 – 2005  Teck released;  38,465 tonnes of Zinc,  22,688 tonnes of Lead,  1,225 tonnes of Arsenic,  1,103 tonnes of Cadmium, and  97 tonnes of Mercury through their air emissions.

Between 1906 – 1995  Teck released;  1,314,00 tonnes of Lead,  4,434,750 tonnes of Cadmium, 302,250 tonnes of Mercury, and 525,600,000 tonnes of Zinc from the slag dumped into the Columbia River.

“The estimated 9.8 million tons (of slag) that Cominco has dumped into the river is equivalent to a dump truck emptying 19 tons every hour for 60 years.”  

– Karen Dorn Steel,  The Spokesman Review (2003)

The accidental spills the smelter has had over the years were eventually reported to the US Agencies by the Canadian B.C. Environment Ministry.  However in every reported case neither the Canadian Ministry, nor the United States Health Department (DOH), or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed any of the communities, located just a few miles down river.

Under their own guidelines this is a criminal act of negligence.

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Teck Smelter Fined Largest Environmental Penalty in BC History 


Teck Smelter fined largest environmental penalty in British Columbia history.   Although the majority of their pollution travels 3 miles downriver into the U.S., we cannot fine them because they are a Canadian company, and they cannot be held liable under U.S. Laws.

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Northport WA Historical Website 

Take a minute and explore the Northport Washington Historical Society Website!

Click here for website:  Northport Washington Historical Website

An amazing website created by Jada Regis!  Full of Northport historical information and a virtual photo album of vintage photos of Northport! 

Also,  like their Facebook  page:  Northport Wa Historical Society.  You will then receive updates on their progress with The Gallo House Museum and reminders of their monthly meetings!  

Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC) Newsletter – January 2017

Our mission: to advocate for a clean Columbia River ecosystem.              

                    

Who are we? 

Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC) is a volunteer organization focused on advocating for the health of the Upper Columbia River (UCR) and Lake Roosevelt. 

Visit us at http://www.cleancolumbia.org


 NEWS IN BRIEF:


Residential Soil Study 2016: Northport, WA

•  144 residential properties were sampled between August and October 2016.

•  Data are undergoing validation; results are expected by Spring, 2017.

Macroinvertebrate Study

•  The study will determine the concentrations of chemicals in the tissues of mussels, clams and crayfish in the Upper Columbia River (UCR)

•  The information will be used in exposure assessments for people and wildlife that consume these organisms

White Sturgeon Sampling

•  White sturgeon fillets are being evaluated for contaminants.

Northport 2016 Brigham and Women’s Hospital /Harvard Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

•  This case control study will attempt to understand potential exposures responsible for a health cluster of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in Northport.

Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF)

•  256 people attended this falls LRF conference.

Technical Advisor Update

•  Joe focused on the 2016 residential soil study, the macroinvertebrate study, the 2013 sediment toxicity data summary report, the level of effort (LOE) memorandum for sediment treatability in the Columbia River, the upland soil split sample results memorandum, and the quality assurance project plan and field sampling report for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study.
 


DETAILED NEWS:


Residential Soil Study in 2016
An expansion of the Residential Soil Study conducted in 2014 by the EPA was performed in 2016. The study was based on findings of aerial contamination above national screening levels for lead and arsenic. The 2014 study findings are described in our July 2015 newsletter. Additional information can be found in the EPA fact sheets on CCC’s website or on the epa.gov website searching under “region10 Upper Columbia River remedial investigation”.

The 2016 study was led by Teck America, Inc. (TAI) and extended the southern boundary of EPA’s 2014 Residential Soil Study to approximately the intersection of Williams Lake Road and Highway 25. There are 144 residential properties for which property owners volunteered to have their property tested that were sampled. Additional information on the study methods can be found in our July 2016 newsletter.

Two kinds of soil samples were collected at the properties:

  • “Incremental composite samples” for which soil was collected at 30 places within each decision unit, and then combining the soil into one sample.
  • Ten “discrete” samples collected from a single decision at 0 to 1 and 1 to 6 inches deep from five locations each with results reported for soil at each location.

Surface soils collected from these properties were tested for metals including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, potassium, selenium, silver, sodium, thallium, vanadium, and zinc. This study is intended to produce data representative of potential exposure associated with metal-enriched soil particles and to support risk management decision making for the human health risk assessment.

Data are undergoing validation and a final version of the results should be out by spring, 2017. CCC provided comments on the draft results letter that will be sent to participating land owners.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


Sampling for the Macroinvertebrate Tissue Study Underway

Details about this study are also provided in the July 2016 newsletter. In brief, the primary objective of the macroinvertebrate study is to determine the concentrations of chemicals present in the tissues of mussels and crayfish. Two rounds of sampling were completed, in spring and fall; in the fall, some of the mussels were collected by diving in the study areas and by wading in the reference area.

The EPA has made recommendations to Teck on compositing the specimens for analysis. CCC provided comments to EPA on both the original sampling plan and the compositing plan. Additional information about these reviews are provided in our technical advisor’s report. At present, the way the individual organisms are being composited for analysis is still under discussion.

      –  Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


White Sturgeon Sampling

With the success of the Lake Roosevelt Fishery, co-managers are considering allowing a recreational and tribal subsistence fishery catch for hatchery white sturgeon. However, safety of eating white sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt is unknown. This prompted the addition of a study of white sturgeon.

In summer of 2016, 72 hatchery white sturgeon of different sizes and from various locations were sampled. Fillets were taken from the fish and combined into composite samples for analysis. Results are pending.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


Northport 2016 Brigham and Women’s Hospital /Harvard Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

Dr. Josh Korzenik, The Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and a leading IBD researcher, and his team have begun their second study of the health cluster of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnosed in Northport residents. Their 2011 study concluded diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in the community was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses Dr. Korzenik has ever seen.

The current study is a more in-depth epidemiological case-control study. The focus is in finding a possible correlation of chronic exposure to specific heavy metals and ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The case-control study includes participants who have been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or colitis as well as participants who have not been affected. In March, I asked for volunteers for this new study. The response was overwhelming. I provided the list to Dr. Korzenick; however, if you volunteered but have not heard from them, please call or email at: IBDresearch@bwh.harvard.edu or 617-732-9173.

It is not too late to volunteer if you haven’t. They are still recruiting participants.
The scope of this study, and the study itself, has the likely possibility of providing groundbreaking information the scientific community is greatly lacking.

Thank you to the many past and present Northport residents who have volunteered to participate in this study.

We cannot change the past or the damage Teck’s pollution has caused to countless Northport residents. However, by participating in studies like this, valuable information on the routes and duration of exposure to specific environmental toxins and their potential link to triggering or causing rare diseases will be better understood. This could help accomplish prevention, regulatory changes, and better treatment options for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and possibly many other autoimmune diseases.

      –  Jamie Paparich


Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF)

Once again, CCC members attended the wonderful LRF conference held at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane on November 15-16, 2016. Over 250 individuals attended, including a mix of members from area tribes, natural resource managers, agency personnel from throughout the Northwest, elected officials, conservationists, teachers and students, and the public. Sessions were presented on fisheries, water quality, recreation, climate change and lake operations. 

Information about the presentations can be viewed at http://www.lrf.org/conference-presentations/2016/#p=1

I found particularly interesting the outlined five-year process for preparing an environmental impact statement to operate 14 multi-purpose federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. Also, the discussion of projections and plans to address future power, irrigation, flood control, fisheries, recreation and other demands was quite interesting, especially in consideration of expected flow increases in winter and decreases in summer due, in part, to changes in snowpack melts.

Favorites were the wonderful presentations from high school students – Colville students who presented a touching tribute to Jono Esvelt and the Reardan High School students lively debate on introducing salmon into the upper Columbia watershed. 

I also loved learning about the salmon cannon for shooting salmon over dams.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary
 


Technical Advisor Report

My efforts over the past six months focused on the 2016 residential soil study, the macroinvertebrate study, the 2013 sediment toxicity data summary report, the level of effort (LOE) memorandum for sediment transport in the Columbia River, the upland soil split sample results memorandum, and the quality assurance project plan and field sampling report for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study. I reviewed several LOE memorandum drafts for potential 2017 studies. CCC used my reviews as the basis for their comments to EPA. I also attended the Lake Roosevelt Forum Conference in Spokane in November 2016.

I reviewed the final residential soil study quality assurance project plan (QAPP) and the split sample QAPP. No major issues were found for either document. Both documents required updating completed tasks and timelines. I observed two days of residential soil study sampling. Early sampling efficiency was hindered by each crew having only a single sampler. This problem was quickly remedied with the arrival of additional samplers. The teams I observed were well organized and professional. The minor issues I observed during field reconnaissance were all resolved prior to sampling. A total of 144 properties were sampled. Analytical results should be available for distribution to property owners in early spring. Once final results are available, it will be determined if there is a need for any time-critical removal actions.

I reviewed two versions of macroinvertebrate study sample compositing plans for the organisms collected in April 2016. A major concern was the proposed compositing of large organisms with small organisms. If metal levels differ between large and small organisms, the difference would be lost. Levels in small organisms would be swamped by levels in the large organisms. A second major concern was the proposed incorporation of organisms obtained in the Columbia River-influenced area of the Sanpoil River arm with organisms collected in the uninfluenced area of the river for the reference area composite samples. I also supported analysis of the clams collected in Area 6 in April 2016. Compositing plans were then placed on hold pending completion of a second round of sampling in the fall. The fall sampling plan required two drafts to establish the required effort for the project. Additional mussels were collected by diving in the study areas and by wading in the reference area. Additional crayfish were collected using traps. One crayfish was again collected in the Columbia River influenced area of the Sanpoil River arm. CCC requested that this organism not be composited with reference organisms. The compositing plans then underwent four rounds of modification to reach a plan acceptable to the participating parties and CCC in December. The compositing plan separated mussels and crayfish into two weight classes for each collection area. Teck American, Incorporated (TAI) is currently not in agreement with the compositing plan proposed by EPA in December 2016. Sample compositing and analysis awaits the development of a compositing plan agreeable to all parties.

EPA provided TAI with compiled comments on the 2013 sediment toxicity study data summary report. Most of CCC’s comments were included in the compilation. CCC was surprised to learn that only analytical chemistry analyses undergo formal data validation. The toxicity data generated at Pacific EcoRisk and the slag determination by computer controlled scanning electron microscopy in the backscattered electron imaging mode (BSEM) data generated by the RJ Lee Group did not and will not undergo formal data validation. CCC’s concerns with BSEM slag determination, particularly the failure to detect a type of slag, and the lack of data on how slag composition varied over the course of 100 plus years of discharge into the Columbia River carry forward into several studies under discussion for 2017.  

I reviewed two versions of the sediment treatability study LOE memorandum. CCC had no major concerns with the LOE memorandum, it was very similar to the soil treatability LOE memorandum. EPA sent a letter to TAI on December 14, 2016, indicating the need for a sediment treatability study. A summary of toxicity data from the 2013 sediment toxicity study and the toxicity data from a separate study performed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) were attached to the letter. The USGS study was not a formal RI/FS study and did not undergo review by the participating parties, TAI, or CCC. TAI responded with a letter to EPA on December 22, 2016, and elaborated several concerns with EPA’s letter. A meeting to discuss a path forward was proposed for the end of January 2017.

I reviewed the draft upland soil split sample data summary memorandum. Major concerns included differences among text, table and spreadsheet presentations of data, and the missing quality assurance memorandum for the analyses. A second draft of the memorandum that includes the quality assurance memorandum is under review.
I also reviewed the QAPP, field sampling plan and compositing proposal for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study. Hatchery sturgeon are doing so well in the upper Columbia River that the Lake Roosevelt Fisheries Co-Managers (LRFCM) harvested hundreds of hatchery sturgeon in late summer to minimize the impact these fish may have on the genetic pool of wild sturgeon. LRFCM may open a sport and subsistence sturgeon fishery in the near future. The sturgeon fillet study was developed to evaluate the levels of potential chemicals of concern in sturgeon fillets and inform Washington State Department of Health for a sturgeon fish advisory if needed. This study was developed very quickly, but all concerns with the study were addressed prior to sample collection, compositing and analysis.

     –  Joe Wichmann, PhD; CCC Technical    Advisor


Want to be More Involved?

•  CCC welcomes new members; you can join on our website (http://www.cleancolumbia.org). You can also find meeting minutes and links to other organizations involved in protecting the environment.

•  Our next General Member Meeting will be in the fall. We will post updated information on the website. Please join us.

You can also write to our EPA project managers:

•  Laura Buelow (buelow.laura@epa.gov)  

•  Kathryn Cerise (Cerise.Kathryn@epa.gov)

Or the EPA region 10 administrator;

•  Dennis McLerran (McLerran.Dennis@epa.gov)

 

Rain causes sewage spill into Columbia River

Friday, February 17, 2017TRAIL, BC

The Northeast Tri-County Health District was notified of a raw sewage discharge into the Columbia River in Trail BC on Feb. 17.

Due to heavy rains and significant snow melt, the sewage treatment plant serving the City of Trial experienced an overflow of raw sewage into the Columbia River. This release is expected to continue until conditions improve.

Approximately 939,395 US gallons of sewage overflowed onto the ground and into the river, according to the report. At the time of the spill, river flows at the International Boundary were 70,100 cubic feet per second (or 524,384 gallons per second), helping dilute the impact.

The Columbia River enters Washington approximately six miles north of the community of Northport.

“While human exposure to river water during this time of year is expected to be minimal, we want to make sure river users are aware of the situation,” said Matt Schanz, Administrator of the Northeast Tri-County Health District. “These kinds of wastewater discharge exceedances will move through the river system quickly.”

The Health District recommends river users exercise caution if they are in contact with river water in the area near the border.

– See more at: http://www.statesmanexaminer.com/content/rains-cause-sewage-spill-columbia-river#sthash.KslNK5rg.dpuf

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