Alan Muller, Green Delaware, questioning and commenting at the meeting

Tuesday night, there was a meeting in Delaware City regarding the “Standard Chlorine of Delaware, a/k/a Metachem Superfund Site.”  This meeting was to gather comments on the “OU3 Proposed Plan.”

Here’s a link to the News Journal article about it — and the full story is below:

EPA: Metachem toxins will linger

Comments must be sent in by August 14, 2009, postmarked if mailed by that date, to:

Hilary Thornton, Mailcode 3HS23
US EPA, Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA  19103


Here are my comments, sent just now:

Overland Comments – Metachem

Now, take a few minutes and work on yours!


The way they handle these proceedings, it’s misleading and diversionary, a false, technical compartmentalization of the problem and solutions, which leads to a preordained, incomplete, and probably ineffective “clean-up.”  Part of the problem is that it’s  not clear that cleaning up is a priority.  My impression is that they’re just interested in “dealing with it” in some way, the CHEAPEST way, checking off the “OU3 box” and moving on.

Their plan, their PREFERRED plan, is to cover it up and move on to “OU4.”  Their “Preferred Plan” is, direct from their powerpoint slide 8:

2A.  Surface Cap/Institutional Controls
Impermeable Surface Cap
  • Cap materials TBD during Remedial Design Phase
  • Cap materials and thickness would vary depending on future land use
Institutional Controls
  • Future land use must not interfere with ongoing remedies
Five-Year Reviews
  • Required for any Superfund Site where contaminants remain
Est. $11.5 – 18.5 Million

Why look! Imagine that!   This is the CHEAPEST of the options.  All options are “cap” crap, with “materials TBD” and, based on prior past bad experience with DNREC’s “hare-brained” ideas (yes, that’s a direct quote)for “beneficial use” and using coal ash and sewage sludge to cap the dump next to the river:

  • I asked whether they’d use coal ash in the “TBD” cover material, and they would NOT commit to rejecting coal ash.
  • I asked whether they’d use sewage sludge in the “TBD” cover material, and they would NOT commit to rejecting sewage sludge.

This is where that compartmentalization becomes a problem.  They said that was not an issue for “OU3” and that it would be addressed in the “design phase.”  Uh-huh, and the public is involved in that exactly HOW?  And hello — WHAT the impermeable surface is has much to do with the appropriateness of using an impermeable cover.  Rainfall on the impermeable cover will trickle off the cover over the edge, onto and into the ground, groundwater, etc.   Even if it’s asphalt, that should be considered.  Isn’t the EPA is in the process of addressing coal ash, and a rule pending?

Cost… Their “preferred” option 2A costs $11.5-18 million.   The others?

The other options, from their powerpoint:

2B Surface Cap/ICs, with Soil Vapor Extraction
Same surface cap and ICs as mentioned in 2A, plus an in Situ SVE system:
  • Est. 200-500 air extraction wells at 50′ depth
  • Treat contaminated air from beneath the cap
  • treat off-gas from SVE system before discharge
  • Additional sampling to identify “hot spots”
  • Pilot study first, to test effectiveness
  • Est. $19.1-20.2 Million
2B Surface Cap/ICs, with ISTD
Same surface cap and ICs as mentioned in 2A, plus in Sit thermal Desorption:
  • Est. 2,800 heater and 1,400 heated vapor extraction wells, 8-12′ apart through 330,000 sq. ft. area
  • Additional sampling to identify “hot spots” within 10′ of barrier wall
  • Pilot study first, to test effectiveness
  • Est. $92.8-99.8 Million

Let’s see… $11.5-18.5 v. $19.1-20-2 & $92.8-99.8.  Doesnt’ take a rocket scientist to see that the cheapest “option” is “preferred,” and since when is cost the primary driver?  Is this an indication of how they value those living here, drinking the water, breathing the air?

Oh, and did I mention they admitted, finally, that the contamination goes down at least 140 feet!  That’s something they haven’t wanted to talk about before.

These options are the only ones looked at, the only ones that are under consideration.

CONSIDER THIS: One other option I want them to consider is to dig up part of the site, the cleaner part, and put a liner down there and take the contaminated dirt from the rest of the site and bury it there with the solid multi-layer liner, and then cover it.

Here’s an example of that in Minnesota, showing that it can and should be done.  This is a scenario where it’s been sitting there since before the mid 70s, it has contaminated ground water in Lake Elmo and Oakdale, Minnesota.  They’re using three layers of liner over packed clay and another three layers of plastic, plus sand with a collection and draingae system.  In the Metachem case, they know groundwater is contaminated, that it’s seeping down, so what, short of this, will stop it?  Take a look — Tom Meersman did a very good job on this:

History-making landfill do-over in Washington County

Hazardous 3M trash buried decades ago in Washington County is being dug up and will be reburied with a protective lining.

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

In a $20 million job that’s the largest of its kind in state history, workers in protective suits are unearthing trash in Lake Elmo that hasn’t seen the light of day for more than three decades.

Their mission is not to burn the wastes or haul them off to another state, but to rebury them in a state-of-the-art pit that will keep chemicals that went into Scotchgard and other 3M products from getting into any more drinking water.

Excavating 33 acres of garbage, and then putting it back in the same place, may seem like a curious way to handle trash that has rested undisturbed since 1975.

However, the former Washington County landfill is not your typical dump. Wastes taken there from the 3M Co. in the early 1970s have contaminated groundwater in nearby Lake Elmo and Oakdale.

That has led to one of the biggest attempts to go back and undo decades-old environmental practices that the metro area has ever seen.

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