Posts Tagged ‘Citizens for a Clean Columbia’

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)

 

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