Whit Gibbons: ‘Why do we need the Environmental Protection Agency?’

January 29, 2012


From the Tuscaloosa News (Whit Gibbons). Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Want to have cancer-causing, bird-killing DDT sprayed in your neighborhood? How about having high levels of brain- damaging mercury dumped into your favorite fishing spot? What about paper mill wastes clogging up rivers and fouling the air people breathe?

These health hazards were once commonplace in communities throughout our country. That they are no longer the hazards they once were is due in no small part to the Environmental Protection Agency, which protects us from these and other environmental abuses. Without EPA oversight, the United States would be a much less healthy place to live.

Those who believe we do not need federal regulation of activities that can turn the country into a toxic waste dump are likely unaware of the far-reaching environmental and human health consequences of such actions. They may also not want to accept the fact that some individuals and many corporations will put profit ahead of all other considerations–including the health and well-being of the general populace.

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal superfund site cleanup update

September 20, 2010

A picture named rockymountainarsenal1964

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley) via the Sky-Hi Daily News:

For half a century, the arsenal at Denver’s northeast edge loomed as a secretive complex of more than 250 buildings with signs around it warning “Use of Deadly Force Authorized.” There, the Army made chemical weapons and later, Shell made pesticides. Residential and commercial development gradually encroached on the site. Today, 47 bison roam, raptors circle and badgers burrow on recovering short-grass prairie 10 miles from downtown Denver. “We’ve transformed a very highly contaminated site into a beautiful prairie landscape,” said Carol Campbell, the EPA’s assistant regional administrator handling Superfund cleanups and other officials. “Because it is something that people now can go to and enjoy, it is different from other Superfund cleanup sites.”

The Army still will be responsible for 725 acres of fenced-off land where toxic materials were consolidated and buried. Devices called lysimeters, about 6 feet beneath the clay and dirt, are supposed to verify that surface water isn’t reaching the waste. In addition, monitoring of the already-contaminated groundwater at the arsenal must continue to ensure that lethal chemicals don’t spread farther toward the South Platte River…

Once, homesteading farmers and ranchers lived here. In 1942, the Army established the arsenal to make mustard gas and blister agent to deter Japan and Germany. Then, during the Cold War, factory workers in body suits and gas masks produced thousands of tons of napalm and sarin nerve gas, which was stuffed into bomblets that were placed in Honest John rocket warheads.

Army leaders later leased the site to private companies, including Shell, which arrived in 1952 and for three decades produced chemical pesticides, such as dieldrin, that Shell sold worldwide for agriculture. The liquid waste was dumped in evaporation ponds. Solid waste was dumped into trenches. More than 600 lethal chemicals spread through the soil into groundwater.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.

EPA proposes removal of more than 2,500 acres at Rocky Mountain Arsenal from Superfund list

June 18, 2010

A picture named rockymountainarsenal1964

Here’s the release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Jennifer Chergo):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposal to delete portions of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) from the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is a list of the nation’s most contaminated sites, known as Superfund sites. EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have determined that all required cleanup activities are complete in the areas proposed for deletion. EPA is accepting public comments on the Notice of Intent to Delete for 30 days, from June 17 to July 19, 2010.

EPA is proposing to delete 2,500 acres of soil, sediment, surface water and structures from the central and eastern surface areas within the RMA boundaries. EPA is also proposing to delete the entire surface area just north of the RMA boundary. Groundwater underlying these areas is not included in this deletion and will remain on the NPL. All areas at RMA deleted from the NPL will continue to be subject to regular EPA review to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.

Deleting property from the NPL facilitates reuse of that property. Should the proposed deletion of the central and eastern surface area be finalized, its 2,500 acres will be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to become part of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

This is the fifth proposed partial deletion of land at RMA. Between 2003 and 2006, EPA completed four partial deletions consisting of 13,406 acres. Of the property deleted at RMA to date, 917 acres were sold to Commerce City for commercial development, 12 acres were transferred to South Adams County Water and Sanitation District for the Klein Treatment Facility, 126 acres were transferred to local governments for road-widening, and 163 acres were retained by the Army, primarily for water treatment systems. Another 12,188 acres were transferred to the FWS to become part of the National Wildlife Refuge, as prescribed in the 1992 Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act.

RMA is located in Commerce City, approximately ten miles northeast of Denver, Colo., in Adams County. RMA was established in 1942 by the U.S. Army to manufacture chemical warfare agents and munitions for use in World War II. Beginning in 1946, some facilities were leased to private companies to manufacture industrial and agricultural chemicals. Shell Oil Company, the principal lessee, manufactured pesticides at the site from 1952 to 1982. Industrial and waste disposal practices resulted in contamination of structures, soil, surface water and groundwater. EPA placed RMA on the NPL in 1987. Since that time, the site has been undergoing extensive environmental investigation and cleanup.

For more information, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/co/rkymtnarsenal/

More superfund coverage here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 886 other followers

%d bloggers like this: