Tag Archives: redevelopment

Protect Gainesville’s Citizens Indoor Dioxin Study is Just Plain WRONG

6 Oct

Part Four: Toys in the Attic

Attic-Air-Pollution

In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. This would be exponentially compounded if there were exposure pathways of contaminants from a Superfund site. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health from exposure to indoor air pollution may be greater than risks from outdoor pollution.

Elderly manAdditionally, people exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods are often those most susceptible to their effects. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

According to the “workgroup”, there was no data on indoor contamination prior to their 2012 round of indoor testing. “The past health risk from exposures to chlorinated dioxins/furans in the dust of 17 homes near the Koppers facility prior to 2012 is unknown. There was no testing of indoor dust specifically for chlorinated dioxins/furans prior to 2012.”  

AtticAccess2However, there is a massive amount of research on testing attic dust samples for historical loading of contaminants. That means you can utilize attic samples to determine contamination from the past. US EPA has studied the risk of exposure to chemicals in the home resulting from renovation and remodeling activities and has also concluded that an exposure pathway is complete when occupants access the attic space. Houses are designed to breathe. An attic is like a time capsule of a neighborhood’s environment.

The ridiculous reason given for not sampling attics was that the “workgroup” felt attics were either non-existent or too small for residents’ use. There is absolutely no evidence supporting this, quite the contrary. Who doesn’t utilize storage space? And even if people don’t access their attics very often, when they do, they could be exposed to higher concentrations of contamination. Residents asked about getting their attics tested but were denied even though it would have filled the gaping hole of unknown past health risk from exposures to chlorinated dioxins/furans in the dust of  homes near the Koppers facility prior to 2012. The lame excuse and uncompassionate remedy  the “workgroup”  offered in the Indoor Contamination Study stated ”Because the attics of houses near the Koppers facility are typically small and the amount of time people spend in their attics is limited, the indoor dust workgroup did not recommend EPA test attic dust. Homeowners, however, can always choose to test attic dust at their own expense.”

AtticAccessRoomOnce again, the burden of proof and the prohibitive expenditure is on the homeowner. Will there be deed restrictions to access attics or to do home renovations in the Stephen Foster neighborhood? The “workgroup” even goes so far as to state, “This report does not, however, address whether the Koppers facility is the only or major source of dioxins in the dust of nearby houses.”

So, what does the report address? Seems like the only thing the “workgroup” took plenty of time to do in the report was to try to invalidate the independent indoor tests residents had done that fingerprinted dioxin contamination to the Koppers facility. Beazer East has already said they are not coming back if more contamination is found in the neighborhood, and the City of Gainesville has released them from any legal responsibility, so who do sick and dying residents have to turn to for help? Legal recourse is the only avenue left, but unless you’re made of money and can ride out the “stonewall” the responsible party has used successfully for the past thirty years, you’re out of luck.

Thanks “Protection Agencies” for analyzing sample data provided by the responsible party to determine how much they would have to clean up the surrounding neighborhoods. Your conclusions really helped…..the responsible party.

Attic-air-quality-family

 

Pretend Gainesville Cares’ Indoor Dioxin Study Is Just Plain WRONG

15 Sep

Part Three: Workgroup’s Indoor Dioxin Study Ignored Two of the Three Exposure Pathways for Contaminants

Attic-indoor-air-pollution-family

Only one pathway of exposure was studied in the workgroup’s investigation of indoor contamination in the Stephen Foster neighborhood. The tracking in of contaminated outdoor soil which might result in the incidental swallowing of very small amounts of indoor dust. Samples for this pathway were obtained by vacuuming dust from floors. There are two other equally relevant pathways of exposure that also meet all five criteria according to the EPA’s pathway of exposure definition that the workgroup failed to study.

hazmat babyTheir study “does not address inhalation of indoor dust. Because of the large day to day variation in indoor air quality, the 2011 dioxin dust workgroup (made up of county/state/federal health & environmental agencies, University of Florida toxicologists, ‘community leaders’, and THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY) did not recommend indoor air testing.” Why would a valid toxic exposure pathway not be studied?

 

“Also, extrapolation of indoor air dioxin levels based on levels in carpets and on floors is too uncertain to accurately assess the health risk from dust inhalation.” Why would an indoor AIR test be sampled from carpets or floors? The devil is in the details and makes it much easier to understand this strange choice of a sample area for indoor AIR testing. Because floor dust is tracked in from outside by foot traffic and is the only pathway affected by the outside soil removal undertaken by the responsible party as a clean-up solution. Beazer East, Inc. funded and supplied the EPA with indoor test results of the one and only pathway with a direct tie to the outside soil remediation they were performing.

Attic-air-quality-test-services

hazmat dog“This report also does not address skin contact with dioxins in indoor dust. Health scientists know too little about the toxicity of dioxins from skin contact to assess the health risk.” But, the workgroup had no problem foraying into uncharted waters when they devoted the bulk of their indoor dioxin study to the brominated dioxins found in homes, even though “health scientists know too little about the toxicity of the brominated dioxins/furans to assess their health risk” and they do not even originate from the Superfund site.

The excuses for not using two ironclad contamination exposure pathways make no sense unless the only pathway of exposure the workgroup wants to consider is the one Beazer East “theoretically” diminished by the replacement of outside soil to the State standard of 7ppt.

The same entities that set the INDOOR dioxin contamination cleanup standard to the unusually high 190 ppt behind closed doors, also decided not to pursue these genuine health risk pathways. So why only use the floor dust as a pathway of exposure, when “Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) should not be approved without a demonstration that ALL relevant pathways have been addressed”? It would be economically catastrophic to Koppers Industries’ wallet if a precedent of permanent relocation, or even an area-wide indoor home remediation was initiated here in Gainesville Florida, and would set the dominoes falling throughout their entire empire of Superfund sites (and they have many, all around the world). This is where people’s lives get trumped by something called “cost prohibitness”. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And when the company in charge of the clean-up is also in charge of determining how much they have to clean, the residents with contaminated homes are being manipulated and marginalized in a real game of life or death. If there was enough contamination outside for a foot of soil to be removed across the entire neighborhood, why are some residents being condemned to live in homes with much higher levels of contamination on the inside?

MoneyOverLives

 

Protect Gigantic Corporation’s Indoor Dioxin Study is Just Plain WRONG

21 Apr

Part Two: 190 ppt Indoor Dioxin standard guarantees continuing toxic exposure inside homes

dioxin signage

Currently, US EPA has no standard safe level criteria for indoor dioxin contamination. A level of 190 ppt was arbitrarily chosen behind closed doors by Beazer East, PGC and other agencies. Other sites have had the inside of nearby residences cleaned up by the responsible party for a median indoor contamination level of 61 ppt. This unscientifically derived number of 190 ppt is over 27 times above Florida’s safe level standard for dioxin in residential soil and over 6 times above Florida’s safe level standard for dioxin in commercial/industrial soil. And 3 times higher than the level other sites have received indoor cleanups for.

Excerpt from USEPA Indoor Dust Study Data Report May 23 2013:
“The purpose of the sampling was to compare concentrations in household dust that may be related to the former Koppers facility (located at 200 NW 23rdAvenue) to background levels and consider possible actions to reduce exposures. Background samples were taken in homes well away from the Site which would not have been impacted by site contamination. EPA has reviewed the results considering background data and a risk-based screening value. It was determined that no remedial actions are required. The risk-based screening value for dioxin derived by EPA for potential exposure to dust in homes is 190pg/g (ppt) dioxin. (TCDD-TEQ). EPA derived this risk-based screening value for dioxin by utilizing a July 2011 document entitled the Indoor Dust investigation/Interpretation Plan, Stephen Foster Neighborhood, Gainesville, Florida (hereafter referred as “Plan”)-which includes exposure assumptions and a toxicity values that were agreed to by the Indoor Dust Dioxin Workgroup convened by the Florida Department of Health made up of federal, County, State and community representatives.”

 

The purpose of the sampling was not to find the dioxins associated to Koppers and remove them, it was to compare “background” samples to Stephen Foster Neighborhood samples and consider possible actions to reduce exposures. No real action involved with that. If SFN samples are close enough to “background” levels, they feel there is no health risk no matter what those dioxin levels are. The inmates are running the asylum. Samples were taken from background homes (vaguely defined as “well away from the site”). In the PGC USEPA Indoor Dioxin Dust Study Report 11-30-2014 “Site and Near Site Properties” are mismarked on the map. They state “given community concern that dust from the Koppers site is widespread, selection of background houses is a critical element of the sampling program. This workgroup, however, was unable to define a particular distance to be considered background.” Unable to define background delineation, they plowed ahead with samples from what they called “background houses” as if just calling them that was enough to make it true. Chlorinated dioxins were found in all the background houses, one as high as 77.3 ppt. This indicates the delineation of indoor dioxin contamination goes further than the “background” homes used in the 2012 indoor dioxin testing. Instead of re-testing the background homes with the highest results, they made an assumption the dioxin came from an inside source and just lumped it in with the rest of the results. That’s just plain wrong. These chemicals can be molecularly fingerprinted. The entire report is filled with theories, assumptions, and ambiguity. There is no magic force field that stops this Koppers dioxin contaminated dust at 6th Street.

 

ppt is

The risk-based screening value of 190 ppt for indoor dioxin was determined using exposure ASSUMPTIONS and toxicity values that were AGREED TO by the workgroup of the “Plan”. Since THERE IS NO Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or USEPA standard FOR INDOOR CONTAMINATION, who set this “acceptable” indoor level of 190 ppt dioxin for Stephen Foster residents? Remember that the Florida outdoor residential Soil Cleanup Target Level (SCTL) is 7 ppt. The Florida outdoor Commercial/Industrial (SCTL) is 30 ppt. It was “representatives from the community” (actually, it was only PGC representing the community-because other community groups were not allowed to participate) and the responsible party (Beazer East, Inc.) that were part of the workgroup the EPA allowed to set this standard. Don’t take our word for it. It says so right on the second page of the Indoor Dust Investigation/Interpretation Plan, Stephen Foster Neighborhood, Gainesville, Florida.

“In November 2010, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) formed an indoor dioxin dust workgroup of county, state, and federal agency representatives. The purpose of this workgroup is to develop an indoor dust investigation/ interpretation plan and present it to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In March 2011, the workgroup added representatives from the community and the responsible party. The workgroup formulated this plan during several conference calls. “

FDEP and EPA will not cleanup below background levels. If the responsible party can represent background levels of dioxin to be sufficiently high, the comparison difference to near site homes will be decreased and will therefore guarantee no cleanup or assumed health risk in the households of the contaminated area. The standard being not only influenced, but set by the responsible party to an arbitrarily inflated level of 190 ppt for indoor dioxin contamination is an ironclad homerun that seals the deal on no household cleanups or relocation using the test results Beazer East bought. You would think the FDEP and City of Gainesville would want their OWN independent test results to base health risk to citizens, rather than the “test results” force fed by the responsible party who paid their consultants to determine the scope of the contamination they would be responsible for cleaning up. This is much like a judge asking a criminal to choose the punishment for their own crime, and then not batting an eye when it’s merely a slap on the wrist.

stacks-of-money

How dare the FDOP take test results from the responsible party and spend tax dollars and hours and hours working out formulas for cancer slope studies, health risk assumptions, and even toxicity theories for resident grown zucchinis based on German vegetable test results (no zucchini was sampled in the Stephen Foster neighborhood), and then use their sanctified authority to shout out to the public there is no health risk from Koppers contamination like it was based entirely on undisputed fact and not figures supplied by the for-profit company required to clean up the Superfund site.

Koppers To Beazer Deed

Don’t be deceived. Beazer East, Inc is in the business to make money off the remediation of contaminated sites. The less money they spend on cleanup, the more profit they make. They paid $10 for the nearly 90 acre Koppers site, close to downtown and the University of Florida. The property is tax appraised at almost a million dollars. The EPA accepted an indoor contamination standard of 190 ppt made by the responsible party behind closed doors and expects the affected residents to believe it to be an acceptable health risk. Why should we accept that inflated level when other sites have had nearby residences cleaned up by the responsible party for a median contamination level of 61 ppt. We’re tired of “reports” that declare everything is fine and pull out the kitchen sink to discredit toxic trespass from Koppers while using vague language and disassociated facts as its basis. People have died and continue to die from Koppers contamination.

None of the members of PGC live in the affected area. It should also be noted that the President of PGC is a realtor who owns property in the Stephen Foster neighborhood.

City’s Superfund Cost Recovery Another Failure

4 Feb

 Some preliminary work on infrastructure in the Stephen Foster neighborhood. This property is contaminated and did not have topsoil replacement. No precautions were taken during this digging.

Some preliminary work on infrastructure in the Stephen Foster neighborhood. This property is contaminated and did not have topsoil replacement. No precautions were taken during this digging.

The City of Gainesville recently settled with Beazer East for less than half of the city’s original cost-recovery claims regarding the Koppers Superfund site. Out of approximately $1.8M tax-payer money spent, Gainesville now stands to recoup a paltry $674,500. In return, the city agreed to release Beazer East from any and all cost recovery claims related to Koppers contamination. This latest example of the City of Gainesville’s nonexistent business acumen brings to mind the disastrous, money-losing biomass plant negotiations. Once again, the tax-payers are on the hook to pay the rest of the bill for a slick multi-national multi-billion dollar corporation. And, once again, public and environmental health is sacrificed by this City Commission who repeatedly put Beazer East’s bottom line over the welfare of its own citizens. During the meeting, Commissioner Wells remarked that the city had expected Beazer East to have done some of the improvements to the infrastructure in the remediation area as part of the cleanup. So in actuality, the city is using the settlement money to do what Beazer East was supposed to do before paying the cost-recovery claim. Sounds like a total loss for the city’s coffers.

The one shining beacon in last Thursday’s Commission meeting was when Mayor Braddy brought up the alternate consideration of using the settlement money to help relocate contaminated households. This suggestion was immediately discarded by a unanimous vote in favor of spending the settlement money to replace water lines and repave roads in areas of Stephen Foster Neighborhood where some properties had topsoil replacement. When will this idea of relocation be re-visited or developed? Not only does the Commission’s decision have no immediate benefit to the sick and dying residents in the area, it actually adds to their suffering by exposing more contaminated soil during the reconstruction process.

While replacing the infrastructure, city workers are being exposed to more contaminated soil that was not replaced. What kind of employee health plan does the city offer? And how does the city plan to keep toxic soil disturbed by this activity from recontaminating newly remediated properties? Beazer East has already said it won’t be coming back if more contamination surfaces, and now the city has negotiated away any legal recourse it may have had.

There is another less tangible and more sinister side to this “reinvestment” to infrastructure in the offsite remediation zone: it benefits non-resident property investors looking to make a killing when the redevelopment occurs. In fact, plans are already underway for onsite redevelopment at this very moment. No need to update roads and water works when the city (taxpayers) has already done it, and paid for it. Greedy sharks are circling while toxic trespass gets a beautification band-aid.

New Public Health Failure at Love Canal Decades after EPA Remediation

13 Jan

After 35 years, a new generation of Love Canal residents claims illnesses from buried chemicals

Current residents of the redeveloped Love Canal neighborhood say that capping, an impermeable layer and clean topsoil failed to protect their families from toxic exposure and resulting catastrophic illnesses, prompting a new lawsuit against Occidental Chemical, its remediation contractors, the City of Niagara Falls, and the Niagara Falls Water Board:

http://www.lovecanaltoxicexposure.com/files/WPost-AP_11-3-13.pdf

Alachua County Commission Votes to Ask Beazer East to Relocate Residents Out of Toxic Homes- Story and Video Coming Soon!!

19 Sep