Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scottsdale/TCE update - Wednesday's CIG meeting

Warning: lots of acronyms ahead

On Wednesday night, the EPA held a meeting of the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund Site's (NIBW) Community Involvement Group (CIG) in the auditorium of the Civic Center Branch Library in Scottsdale.

Summary - there was no breaking news tonight, no bombs like the one dropped at November's meeting (the week+ during October of 'incomplete remediation' .)

Of course, there were no 'F-bombs' dropped in return. :))

The longer version of tonight's events isn't actually all that much longer than the summary, and most of the information was made available previously.

A number of officials from EPA, DOJ, ADEQ, ADHS, MCESD, and City of Scottsdale were present, as well as elected officials or their representatives such as Scottsdale City Council members Ron McCullagh and Wayne Ecton, and Robbie Sherwood, District Director for Congressman Harry Mitchell.

The people who were there for professional reasons may have outnumbered the folks who were there as "interested citizens." :))

Both the Participating Companies (PCs) - Motorola, Siemens, and GSK - and the operator of the Miller Road Treatment Facility (MRTF), Arizona American Water Company (AAWC), conducted separate investigations into the incidents (October 2007, January 2008). The end result of those investigations was that the PCs blamed human error on the part of AAWC personnel, and that AAWC blamed the system set up by the PCs.

The EPA had an independent contractor overseeing the investigations; their report isn't complete as yet.

While that report is pending, and long-term solutions are evaluated, the output of the well with the highest concentration of trichloroethylene (TCE), called PCX-1, has been permanently disconnected from AAWC's drinking water system. The facility was shut down after the January incident but is now back online, with the output of PCX-1 discharged into the Arizona Canal.

The PCs have contracted with a new firm to handle the remediation of PCX-1 while the remediation of two other wells, with much lower contamination levels, is still handled by AAWC. The output from those wells is discharged into AAWC's water distribution system.

In addition to the permanent disconnection of PCX-1 from the water distribution system, increased testing of the effluent, 24/7 onsite monitoring, and thrice-daily inspections of all equipment and controls have been implement as interim actions to address the TCE contamination while ensuring that similar failures do not re-occur.

The interim operating plan is available here.

Information regarding long-term measures should be forthcoming during the fall. Possible options in that regard include, but aren't limited to, reinjection, reconfiguring MRTF to add precautions and redundancies, and continuing to treat and discharge the water from PCX-1 into the Arizona Canal.

The EPA's most recent update on the MRTF situation is here.

Other info from the meeting -

...According to Terry Lockwood, representing Motorola (and the other PCs), there is no evidence of northward movement of the contamination plume.

...The money from the $500,000 fine levied against the PCs is going into the Superfund. (AAWC was fined $69K by the State of Arizona.)

...There will probably be another CIG meeting in the fall after the evaluation of options for long-term measures.

...Oh, and even though the majority of people affected by January's incident at the MRTF live in Paradise Valley, which is in his district, no one from Congressman Shadegg's office was present Wednesday night.

Guess he's still MIA when it comes to his constituents.

Other Scottsdale news from the meeting - As of 5:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Councilman Ron McCullagh was the only candidate who has turned in nominating petitions so far. When asked about being first, he stated that he turned them in so early because he had enough to do so, and that he was working on collecting sigs for the state land trust reform initiative and wanted to focus his attention on that.


1 comment:

Devo1978 said...

I am perplexed by the lack of press scrutiny on McCain’s record of covering up one of the largest Superfund Sites in the nation in Scottsdale, Arizona, the North Indian Bend Wash. I grew up in that toxic area of Scottsdale, so I know from personal experience that John McCain never bothered to inquire about or advocate for his poisoned constituents.

Even though he was elected to the newly realigned Congressional District 1 in 1982, precisely the time when EPA documented the TCE contamination of his new constituents, he never called for a health assessment. The only record of McCain taking any interest in the site was when he wrote to EPA as Senator, June 30, 1989, to complain that his constituent Mr. Johnson should be allowed to sell his contaminated land even though he had been identified as a Potentially Responsible Party. The EPA response of July 12, 1990, states, “Given our mandate to give priority attention to public health threats, EPA can not justify putting Mr. Johnson’s concerns ahead of the rest of the citizens of Scottsdale who need drinking water.” This is McCain’s complete record on protecting the families who lived in the NIBW prior to 1982. His failure to advocate for the citizens he represented from the time he was elected to Congress, up to the present day, speaks to his lack of character or concern for the environment
McCain ignored all those families in the NIBW during his years in office. He chose to keep the contamination of the groundwater in Scottsdale very, very hush-hush. Keating and others would not have appreciated that kind of publicity.
McCain cooperated with other officials to suppress the facts about the water Scottsdale residents drank. Fifty-seven THOUSAND POUNDS (~19 TONS) of highly toxic TCE have been removed from the municipal wells that supplied my neighborhood in the 60's & 70's.

When I called his office about the ATSDR petition, he never returned my call.

John McCain even failed to act when TCE was served to residents this year.

Perhaps it was Senator McCain who called to pressure Mr. Dillinberg, when TCE was again served to his citizens in the mid ‘90’s, as reported here by Terry Greene Sterling:

Jefferson envisioned the “fourth estate” as a guardian of the truth. Please tell it now.