Posts Tagged ‘Northport Air Monitoring’

My Questions to the EPA

The EPA recently explained to the community of Northport, WA, based on the EPA’s analysis of existing data they have decided not to conduct additional air monitoring in our area.

After analyzing the existing data, the EPA concluded;

  • For arsenic, the air concentration is 0.0042 ug/m3.  Although this level is higher than safety standards they felt that it would only correspond to a cancer risk of 2 in 100,000.  So, the community should be “safe”.
  • For cadmium, the air concentration is .00136 ug/m3. Although this level is also higher than safety standards they felt that it would only correspond to a cancer risk of 2 in 1 million people. So, once again, we are “safe”.

The existing data the EPA analyzed is the following:

  • All 4 Air Monitoring Studies conducted by Ecology in Northport between 1992 – 1998.
    • All four concluded that our levels of arsenic (.02ug/m3) were 100 times the safety standard and our levels of cadmium (.04) were 18 times higher than safety standards.
  • Air Data measured at a monitoring station Teck Smelter operated near Northport from 1999 – 2009.

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In 2017 The Department of Ecology conducted a preliminary review and evaluation of past air quality monitoring data from our area and consideration of potential present-day health risks. (So basically, they analyzed the same data the EPA claims to have reviewed). When Ecology realized a very important gap of data to accurately evaluate our situation they conducted an air modeling algorithm to get a more specific idea of the actual concentrations of the toxins in our air.

After analyzing the existing date Ecology concluded;

  • Some quality assurance and uncertainty issues arose in Teck’s air monitoring and reporting. Some anomalies were noted when comparing variations in PM emissions that do not correspond to variations in As, Cd, Pb, and Zn emissions. Meaning the accuracy of the emissions being reported and recorded should be called into question.
  • Another issue was the quantitation limit for sampling Arsenic was measured in a bucket of 0.01 ug/m3 to 0.39 ug/m3. Meaning any levels that fell into this category were reported as a .01 ug/m3 in concentration.  When in reality over 40% of those samples were actually closer to 0.39 ug/m3 . That means 40% of the samples had concentrations recorded as .01 when in reality those samples could have been as high as 0.39.  That would mean the actual concentration of arsenic in our air (on average) would be 0.152 ug/m3.
    • Per the EPA guidelines; if the toxin exceeds the Acceptable Source Impact Level (ASIL) it is evaluated as a risk, and additional analysis is needed, especially if the toxin falls within the Risk-Based Concentration (RBC) levels.  The ASIL for arsenic emissions is .0023ug/m3, and the RBC is .0023 ug/m3.
    • The EPA is claiming the concentration of arsenic in Northport is .0042 ug/m3. Under the EPA’s ASIL and RBC levels they would be required to gather “additional analysis” (AIR MONITORING) on the situation.  Worse yet, based on Ecology’s assessment of the data the EPA reviewed the concentration of arsenic in Northport is much more likely to be close to 0.152 ug/m3.  This is a very dangerous level to be chronically exposed to.  I think the results of our health studies (see below) are proof enough of that.
  • Due to the lack of monitors in the areas upriver from Northport to the border, and therefore the lack of data, Ecology applied a smoothing algorithm to mean concentration estimates as functions of time and downriver distance to estimate average As, Cd, and Pb concentrations.
  • The results of this algorithm concluded that between 2009 – 2014 the average level of arsenic in our air was .02 ug/m3. This is similar to the results of the other air monitoring studies done in our area in the past, and not by Teck. .02 ug/m3 is 100 times the recommended safety level.

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Results from the 2012 Northport Community Health Survey

  • 18 people, in a population of 315, had been diagnosed with cancer.  (This seems to blow EPA’s theory of the toxins we are exposed to will only correspond to a cancer risk of 2 in 100,000.)
  • 17 residents had been diagnosed with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s. 17 residents out of a community of 315.  Nationwide approximately 7 people out of 100,000 are diagnosed with UC or Crohn’s annually.
  • 23 residents had been diagnosed with either a brain aneurism or tumors.
  • 13 residents had been diagnosed with either Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis.

Since the 2012 Community Health Survey the health issues have not stopped

  • 8 more residents were diagnosed with cancer
  • 4 more residents have been diagnosed with UC or Crohn’s
  • 3 more residents have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and 1 more resident has been diagnosed with Multiple Scoliosis
In a community with a population of approximately 315 people.

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EPA also informed us after their analysis of existing data that the air data is sufficient to conduct the human health risk assessment for our area.  They stated, The EPA believes that our evaluation of the potential risk to people from outdoor air, using existing air data, is technically sound.”

My Questions to the EPA:

  • Even if our air concentration for arsenic is 0.0042 ug/m3, as Teck stated, that still exceeds the ASIL and should be evaluated as a risk, and additional analysis (AIR MONITORING) is needed, especially if the toxin falls within the Risk-Based Concentration (RBC) levels.
  • Based on Ecology’s findings, what if our air concentration for arsenic is .02ug/m3, or even 0.152 ug/m3, if Ecology’s concern of quantitation limitation on Teck’s sampling is correct?  Our arsenic and cadmium concentrations are already over the safety standards. Scientific data shows that it is very likely those concentrations are significantly higher than the EPA believes.
  • Why did you not evaluate the findings and concerns Ecology advised you of?
  • How did the EPA and The Department of Ecology reach such different conclusions based on the same information?
  • Why are so many residents in our community continuing to get sick if what the EPA is saying is true?
  • How do you plan on conducting a Human Health Risk Assessment based on this lacking, and possibly incorrect data?

The EPA had a choice.  You could have listened to the over 100 Northport residents who signed a petition asking for your help, you could have taken the recommendations of The Department of Ecology and The Tri-County Health Department to conduct a long term, multiple location air monitoring program in our area.  Instead you used limited, inaccurate, outdated data from Teck’s air monitor to conclude no additional air monitoring is needed. This means the HHRA the EPA conducts will be dangerously  inaccurate before it is even began. Do us a favor and don’t waste your time.  The HHRA will ensure we are safe, just as you are telling us we are safe now. I hope you have reason to come visit us five or ten years from now.  You can look around this very room, full of some of the same people that are here today, and explain to them why you left us in danger.  Why you not only told us we were safe, but refused us any sort of assistance to ensure we are safe….again.  The EPA stood where you are now in 1992, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2015, 2017 and now 2018.  Would you like to know how many people have either gotten sick or died from similar health issues in those 26 years?

Northport residents continue to fight for long term air monitors as more and more residents continue to be diagnosed with debilitating diseases

Northport residents renew calls for air monitoring after state modeling says a Canadian smelter is polluting their town

Fri., March 16, 2018, 6 a.m.

By Becky Kramer

beckyk@spokesman.com

(509) 459-5466

Clifford Ward lives near Northport, Washington, a town of about 300 people in forested area along the upper Columbia River.

Despite its remote location, the city is downwind from a large industrial operation. About 15 miles to the north in Trail, British Columbia, Teck Resources Ltd. runs one of the world’s largest integrated lead and zinc smelters and refineries.

Modeling done by the state Department of Ecology indicated the smelter could be sending the highest known airborne levels of arsenic and lead in Washington, Oregon and Idaho over the international border.

In December, Ward and more than 100 other local residents petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install air monitors from Northport to the border.

“I think we have the right to know what it is that we may or may not be breathing,” said Ward, a board member of Citizens for a Clean Columbia, a local activist group.

Both the state of Washington and the local Northeast Tri-County Health District support the monitoring, but EPA officials haven’t made a decision.

“We are still reviewing it,” said Mark MacIntyre, an EPA spokesman in Seattle.

The Teck smelter has operated for more than a century. It’s better known for its historic releases of pollution into the Columbia River, which is the subject of ongoing litigation against the company by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the state.

Chad Pederson, a Teck Resources spokesman, said the company has spent more than $85 million on studies to determine if historical disposal practices at the Trail smelter have caused unacceptable risks to human health or the environment. The studies are being conducted with EPA oversight.

The Department of Ecology’s modeling, however, looks at the smelter’s projected air emissions for more recent years. Air quality monitoring hasn’t been conducted on the Washington side of the border since 2009.

Ecology officials used six years of air monitoring data from British Columbia’s government to project levels of heavy metal crossing the border between 2009 and 2014.

“It predicts what may be occurring in Washington state, since we don’t have current data sets,” said John Roland, the state’s Upper Columbia site project manager.

Average lead levels modeled at the U.S.-Canadian border were about seven times higher than the Northwest’s next-largest reading, The modeling effort also projected elevated cadmium levels, but a Portland air quality monitor next to an art-glass foundry had recorded higher levels.

The projected metals crossing the border are measured in micrograms per cubic meter. While they wouldn’t pose a short-term health risk to local residents, long-term inhalation could increase people’s risk of getting cancer, according to the Department of Ecology.

Based on the smelter’s sheer size, it’s not surprising it would be the region’s largest emitter of airborne metals, said Roland.

Roland said the state wants a say in designing any future air monitoring that occurs in the Northport area. Since the smelter now accepts some types of electronic waste for recycling, the list of metals monitored may need to be expanded, he said.

Teck officials, however, dispute the need for air quality monitoring in the Northport area.

“Ecology’s request for renewed air monitoring in the U.S. misunderstands the data Teck reports to the B.C. government, as well as (the) Trail operations modern compliance history,” Pederson, the company spokesman, said in an email.

Teck has spent more than $1.5 billion in modernizing the Trail smelter since the mid-1990s. Pederson said the investments have improved operations and reduced air and water emissions by more than 95 percent.

Northport residents need ongoing air monitoring, said Jamie Paparich, whose family owns property north of town. Without the data, people won’t know if they’re currently being exposed to risky levels of metals, she said.

The Northeast Tri-County Health District takes a similar position, said Matt Schanz, the administrator. Though Teck has substantially reduced its emissions, airborne arsenic and lead levels are a public health issue, he said.

“It’s really important that we understand the impacts on our own side of the border,” Schanz said.

Ecology Memo Recommending Additional Air Monitoring in Northport, WA

Department of Ecology

 

13 April 2017

TO:  Karen Wood and Chris Hanlon-Meyer

FROM:  Matt Kadlec

SUBJECT:  Regional PM10 Air Monitoring Speciation Network Comparison to
Measured and Predicted Conditions in the Upper Columbia River Valley
near the U.S.-Canadian Border

 

An analysis was recently completed on observed and estimated recent air quality
conditions for arsenic, cadmium, and lead within the upper Columbia River valley near
the international border.[1]  The report recommended a renewal of monitoring of certain aerosol elements in that area in order to conclusively determine current air quality conditions there.

Those estimates are matched to comparable data from monitors in Washington,
Oregon and Idaho as follows.

In the histograms below, the mean concentrations of US EPA Air Quality System
(AQS)[2] PM10 speciation data are compared to estimates of the mean concentrations
near Northport and the upper Columbia River Valley near the border (UCR). All the
means are of the February 2009 through December 2014 interval.

arsenic

 

 

 

cadmium

lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCUSSION

The upper limit of each location’s histogram bar is the ≈ 6-year mean PM10 element
concentration in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). The purple bars are the
estimated concentrations in the upper Columbia River Valley area and near Northport.
The blue bars are the observed mean concentrations at the AQS monitor locations.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Average airborne PM10 arsenic and lead concentrations in the upper Columbia River
valley near the international border are potentially the highest known levels in
Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Likewise, the average airborne cadmium
concentrations are potentially the highest known anywhere in three states except at the monitor at 2231 N Flint Ave, Portland, OR, which is about 500 feet from an art-glass
foundry known to have emitted high levels of cadmium in particulate matter.[3]

Previously interpreted air monitoring data from 2009 through 2014 suggest that current
emissions from the Trail smelter continue to influence upper Columbia River valley air
quality. PM10 arsenic, cadmium and lead concentrations in the upper Columbia River
valley near the international border exceed expected air quality conditions for a rural
setting. Absent smelter emissions, the particulate metal concentrations in this rural
portion or northeast Washington likely would be about as low as those at the monitors
in rural Oregon and Idaho.

These findings reinforce the need for current PM10 speciation monitoring in the upper
Columbia River Valley near the international border and Northport area.

 

 

1 https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/1702003.html
2 https://www.epa.gov/aqs accessed by Jill Schulte, 6 April 2017

3 http://www.opb.org/news/article/why-portland-heavy-metals-pollution-went-undetected-for-so-long/ Accessed 11 April 2017

Electronic Petition for Air Monitoring in Northport, WA – Please sign!!

ATTN: If you are a past or present Northport WA resident, or a resident of a community nearby, or if you simply care about the community of Northport PLEASE read the petition below. If you agree and would like to sign the petition; 

  1. Copy & paste this sentence: “This is my signature for the 2017 Northport WA Air Monitor Petition” – **along with your name, address, phone# and/or email** into the comment section below. 
  2. Hit enter- that’s it! 

It’s that simple! If you don’t want to put your personal information (address, etc.) in comment section, you can email the sentence along with your personal information instead to: northportproject@hotmail.com

Please forward this on to anyone who might be interested in signing.
PETITION:

I believe the EPA and the Washington State Department of ecology should plan and institute a comprehensive air monitoring program from Northport to the Canadian border. The program should be developed with community input, include a minimum of three monitoring stations, and continue with no predetermined termination date. 
Questions?  Email me (Jamie Paparich) directly at: northportproject@hotmail.com

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

AIR MONITORING IN NORTHPORT: PART II

Summary of Ecology’s Northport Air Quality Studies, Phases I – IV, (1992-1998) 

 

ECOLOGY/EPA  ACRONYMS

Screening Acronyms used by Ecology and EPA in testing certain heavy metal toxins:

    • Acceptable Source Impact Level (ASIL): Toxins must be found at or below the ASIL set by the EPA based on Standard ambient air background levels throughout the State.
    • Risk Based Specific Concentration Level (RSC): Toxins found at or above the RSC set by the EPA are considered high enough to pose as a risk to the environment and human health.

ARSENIC SAFETY/RISK LEVELS SET BY EPA:

  • The ASIL:  .00023 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)
  • The RSC:  0.0023 ug/m3

CADMIUM SAFETY/RISK LEVELS SET BY EPA:

  • The ASIL:  .00056 ug/m3
  • The RSC:  0.1164 ug/m3

 

 

PHASE I:   Dec. 15, 1992 – Feb. 13, 1993

• Five air monitors installed

• 100 samples of particulate matter (PM) collected and analyzed for lead, arsenic, and    particulate matter.

PHASE II:   Aug. 10, 1993 – Oct. 30, 1993

• Seven air monitors installed

• The particulate filters were scanned for 30 toxic metals, cadmium, zinc, antimony, lead, copper, arsenic, and manganese.

• Computer Modeling conducted to better “understand the probable sources of pollutants…”

RESULTS:  Phase I & Phase II

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in both phases.

    • Phase I – maximum arsenic level detected:  .25 ug/m3
    • Phase II – maximum arsenic level detected: 0.1164 ug/m3

CADMIUM (*Cadmium was only tested in the Phase II air monitoring.)

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase II.

    • Phase II – maximum cadmium level detected:  .0474 ug/m3

COMPUTER MODELING

The results of the computer modeling done in Phase II confirmed “…the monitoring data results in predicting that winds and pollutants from the (Teck) smelter can easily travel down the Columbia River Valley to produce moderately high pollutant concentrations in the study area.”

 

PHASE III:   Nov. 3, 1993 – Aug. 6, 1994

• One monitoring site – located 3 miles NE of Northport on “Paparich”

• Metals evaluated – lead, arsenic, cadmium

RESULTS:  Phase III

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

    • Phase III:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .12 ug/m3

CADMIUM

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

    • Phase III:   Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .04 ug/m3

 

PHASE IV:   Sept. 5, 1997 – Dec. 31, 1998

• Three monitoring sites in Northport

• Metals evaluated – arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc

RESULTS:  Phase IV

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase IV

    • Phase IV:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .02 ug/m3

CADMIUM

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV

    • Phase IV:    Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .01 ug/m3

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion;  of the four Air Monitoring Studies conducted by Ecology between 1992 thru 1998 the level of arsenic and cadmium consistently exceeded all safety levels.  Ecology agreed to approve Teck’s request for a new permit in 1996 for a new “KIVCET” smelter, with the condition that phase IV of the air monitoring proved the new Kivcet smelter reduced the levels of arsenic and cadmium to safe levels in and around Northport.  The results of phase IV proved only that the levels stayed the same, still unsafe.  Ecology approved the permit anyway, but concluded in phase IV that they would “continue its efforts to fine- tune the MM5, CALMET and CALPUFF air quality models for utilization in the Northport study area. …(I)n addition to evaluating the need for further emission reductions at the (Teck) facility, the above models will be used to determine pollutant impact “hot spots” and optimum long-term air quality monitoring site locations (in Northport).”

No air monitoring has taken place in Northport since the conclusion of phase IV in 1998.  For 18 years the community of Northport has been exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic and cadmium, levels the Department of Ecology knew about, and warned the EPA about…..but no one warned the residents of Northport.

The EPA is currently, and so far unsuccessfully, trying to obtain funding from Teck to install air monitors in and around Northport.  The Ministry of Environment in Canada recently fined Teck 3.4 million dollars for their spills into the Columbia River.  Perhaps, the Canadian Ministry could provide the funding for the air monitors needed 3 miles down river from Teck?  Doubtful.

How can you help get air monitors in Northport?  I will share how in part 3 of the air monitoring blog next week!

EPA ANSWERS NORTHPORT QUESTIONS: Property Values, Livestock, Air & Water Quality

Recently I received questions from a concerned Northport resident regarding land value, livestock permits, economic value, and air and water quality;  in reference to the EPA/Teck Upper Columbia Studies and Clean-up.

I forwarded those questions along to our EPA Project Manager, Laura Buelow. Laura, Kay Morrison, (Community Involvement Coordinator), and Marc Stifelman, (EPA Toxicologist), responded to these questions. I found both the questions and answers informative and wanted to share them for any other interested Northport residents.

Below are the questions submitted from the Northport resident, and the EPA’s answers.

 

LAND VALUE
Q:   How does this affect the value of the land for taxes, finance, appraisals, selling?

A:   The Steven’s County assessor is a good place to start, also check with your realtor or John Cochran. John is our contact on the Washington Realtor’s Association (http://www.warealtor.org/ )

Q:   Are people having problems selling land due to the contamination?

A:   We have heard that property is being sold, but don’t have any details past that.

Q:   Is there a land conservation group willing to purchase the land at fair market value?

A:   Kay did a search on the term “land conservation groups in Washington state” and found a lot of information that residents may want to look into. We don’t currently have a relationship with any land conservation group. Here are a few of the links residents might try, as well as this google search:

https://www.google.com/#q=land%20conservation%20groups%20in%20washington%20state

http://www.landscope.org/washington/programs/wa_programs/

http://iwjv.org/partner-state/washington-state-conservation-partnership

Q:   How can you sell the land if there is contamination – are we liable for the contamination for the next owner?  Who pays for the testing?  Who is responsible for the clean up now and in the future?

A:   EPA will not hold residents liable for this contamination. Washington has disclosure requirements that can be found on the state’s website:
REAL PROPERTY TRANSFERS — SELLERS’ DISCLOSURES
The testing is being paid for by Teck American, Inc as part of the remedial investigation/feasibility study. The testing in 2016 will be conducted by Teck and their contractor, with oversight by EPA. The soil clean ups that were performed in 2014 were paid for by Teck and conducted by Teck’s contractors with oversight by EPA. If additional soil clean ups are necessary, the landowner will not be responsible for the cost.

Q:   Future clean up – how many years for re-testing? Who pays for the testing and clean up in the future?

A:   We’ll determine if, and where, additional areas need to be sampled based on the 2016 study. We can’t guarantee that we’ll do another round of testing, and we don’t have additional residential soil sampling scheduled out past 2016.

Q:   Is the ground becoming contaminated via air – water?

A:   EPA believes the data shows that the soil became contaminated from historic smelting operations at the Trail smelter, specifically the metals coming out of the smelter stacks (air). The smelter has been in operation since the 1890s. In the 1990s, the smelter went through a major improvement and the air emissions significantly decreased. We have received requests from the community to perform air monitoring and we are looking into the existing data to determine if additional air monitoring is necessary for the remedial investigation/feasibility study. Our focus right now is getting residential properties sampled.

ECONOMIC

Information: These are good questions for the Washington State University extension office for Stevens County – their website is http://ext100.wsu.edu/stevens/
 
From the web site:
“Washington State University Stevens County Extension connects the people of Stevens county to the research and knowledge bases of the state’s land grand research university providing solutions to local problems and stimulating local economies.  Our county-based educators work with partners in your communities to provide educational programs and leverage the broad resources of a major university to resolve issues and create a positive future for the residents of Stevens county.”

Q:   Can we produce and sell food/livestock raised on contaminated field?  I read that we have to get a special permit for that?

A:   Individual soil sampling results would need to be discussed specifically with Laura Buelow, EPA Project Manager (buelow.laura@epa.gov).

Q:   If so, does the produce/livestock have to be tested?

        A:   See above

AIR & WATER QUALITY
Q:   How often is either tested?  How do we get theses tested?

A:   Air was last tested in the U.S. by Ecology in the 1990s. Teck monitors air in Trail and we are working to get as much of that data as possible. Several studies have been completed under the remedial investigation/feasibility study. We have sampled river water, beaches, fish, sediment, and soil. The results of each study are compiled as Data Summary Reports and listed at this website: http://www.ucr-rifs.com/ The website is run by Teck specifically for this study and has more background information. EPA’s most recent fact sheet that gives a summary of everything done to date is here: https://www3.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/ucr/fact_sheets/UCR_Site_Invest_SU_Nov_14.pdf

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Q:   How can the community develop future economic bases?  How can we draw companies here?

A:   This is outside the scope of our work at this stage of the study. There is an organization called the Tri-County Economic Development District (http://tricountyedd.com/ ) that serves Northeast Washington – Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties.

Q:   What studies are being done on the wildlife and vegetation and the affects of the pollution has on them?  Forest health?

A:   The ecological risk assessment is part of the RI/FS and it will determine if there is any issues with the plants and animals.

Q:   There seems to be a lot of studies done at universities – are any doing studies here?

A:   Contact Jamie Paparich at The Northport Project: northportproject@hotmail.com

Q:   How many groups are involved with this?  Coordination?  Meeting Schedules?  Funding?  Accountability?

A:   EPA and Teck signed a Settlement Agreement in 2006, which is a legal contract that sets out how the study will be conducted. Teck funds all of the work. EPA also has an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington Department of Ecology, the Colville Tribe, and the Spokane Tribe to participate and provide input on all of the sampling plans and documents. Teck funds these parties as well. There is also the Citizen’s for a Clean Columbia (the CCC). They have a technical advisor and Teck funds the time for the advisor. EPA has had community meetings in Northport approximately every 6-8 months for the last 3 years, mostly focused on the soil sampling.

Here is a link to EPA’s page with legal / enforcement documents, including the 2006 agreement:  https://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/UCR/Enforcement

Q:   Is there a early warning system in place that goes out to the residents when pollutants are released in the river?  Like a reverse 911.

A:   Ecology receives the notice of spills from the Trail smelter.

Q:   How come the fines Teck pays to Canada for environmental discharges are not distributed to the US?

A:   I’m not sure what these fines would be. Teck is paying to all of the remedial investigation/feasibility study.

 

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