SEPTEMBER 2007 NEWSLETTER
PROPOSED COAL-BURNING POWER PLANT
On September 20, 2007, representatives of Columbia Riverkeeper, Willapa Audubon Society, and the Rosemere Neighborhood Association, along with a number of other concerned citizens, attended a public hearing held by Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to voice their opinions about Energy Northwest’s proposed Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant in Kalama, WA. The council took comments from the public on Energy Northwest’s greenhouse gas “sequestration plan” (view the plan at http://http:www.esfec.wa.gov/pmec.shtml).
Energy Northwest’s coal burning power plant would be a major new industrial polluter on the Columbia River. This $1 BILLION, 600-megawatt facility will increase our air and water pollution, threaten habitat for endangered salmon and add to our global warming by producing more than 4 MILLION tons of carbon dioxide per year–that is the same as adding 700,000 cars to our highways! Energy Northwest readily admits its “sequestration plan” fails to comply with Washington’s new Climate Change bill(SB6001) which bans heavily polluting facilities unless the facility produces a plan proving it can sequester, within 5 years, greenhouse gas by pumping it into the bedrock. Energy Northwest is asking for approval to build anyway even though it cannot comply with Washington state law!
In presenting their plan, Energy Northwest repeatedly told the audience they did not have answers to some very important questions and much of their plan is experimental–they have no clear cut operating/plan for this process. The attorney General’s office has called Energy Northwest’s plan “deficient” and “vague”, the Department of Ecology has requested the EFSEC reject their application and the people of Washington have expressed their desire to move toward clean, renewable, alternative sources of energy with the passage of Initiative 937. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is moving forward in spite of this response!
To learn more about the coal gasification process go to http://discovermagazine.com/2006/clean-coal-technology and read “Can Coal Come Clean? How to survive the return of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel”. Voice your opinion to the Energy Facility Site Council at email@example.com.
Comments will be taken through October 20, 2007, and can be sent to the following person and address:
EFSEC Siting Specialist
P.O. Box 43172
Olympia, Washington 98504-3172
Demand the council reject the sequestration plan and tell them Washington does not want a massive new polluter on the Columbia River!
WASHINGTON STATE ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION UPDATE:
INITIATIVE 937 AND SENATE BILL 6001
The voters of the State of Washington joined 20 other States in 2006 by passing Initiative 937 showing their support for renewable clean energy over polluting or fossil fuel. This initiative requires large utilities (greater than 25,000 customers) to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable resources such as solar or wind by 2020.
Our legislators in 2007 passed Senate Bill 6001 setting limits on global warming pollutions emitted by new power plants. The bill also calls for reducing state climate-pollution emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, 25% below 1990 levels by 2035 and to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050. The 2050 goal actually requires improvement since climate scientists say an 80% emissions reduction is needed to avert the worst effects of global warming.
COLUMBIA RIVER WATER TESTING
For the second year in a row, members of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association have completed water monitoring of the Columbia River for the 2007 summer season.
Numerous RNA members take water samples twice per month in several locations that range from Wintler Park to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The goal of this testing is to create a historical data base that documents the health of the river over a long period of time. What began in the summer of 2006 was repeated again this year and will continue to be repeated each year for the foreseeable future.
Water samples are analyzed for turbidity (water clarity), pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and conductivity. During each month, each site must be tested once in the morning and once in the evening so that a broad range of conditions can be evaluated.
Frequently, the water monitors are asked by the public what they are doing. RNA members simply explain that they are working toward the long term health of the River by collecting data about its condition. The public at large has been very receptive to date with the volunteer effort.
UPDATE ON VANCOUVER LAKE WATERSHED PARTNERSHIP
Attempts to improve the water quality at Vancouver Lake was the topic of a public Forum held at the Vancouver Public Library on Thursday, September 20th, 2007. The Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership was formed two years ago to examine the condition of the Lake. The Partnership includes citizen members, along with representatives of a several local, state and federal agencies. Thom McConathy, a citizen member and member of RNA, was one of the Panelists at the library forum.
The expected report from the US Army Corps of Engineers, will not be available for the October meeting so the Partnership meeting for October has been cancelled and the next meeting will be held on December with the full partnership. It is expected that the Army Corps report will include their final “Go” or “No Go” for the “Fish Recovery” project. A Technical Group meeting will be scheduled in the upcoming weeks to discuss the Corps findings.
Thom said “… be prepared for bad news!” Federal funding of any water project is scant at best due to the Federal fiscal money crunch. No water projects are being accepted for studies let alone being funded for construction. Over 30 federal projects are currently seeking funding.
Although the Vancouver Lake Watershed Partnership has support from the Congressional delegation for getting the project funded, they have also been informed that they still need quite a bit of work in order to move this project to the head of the list to get funding. This work would include studies with the US Army Corps of Engineers, who have very little spare monies. The US Army Corps of Engineers is looking at enlarging the flushing mechanism to add more water to the eutrophic lake, deepening and/or dredging the lake; all with a cost/benefit ratio without looking at the science that will make the decision. The US Army Corps can only fund projects that improve fishery habitat and this lake has so many problems that it may not be able to achieve this goal.
RNA FILES CITIZEN PETITION WITH EPA REGARDING ALCOA PROPERTY
During the recent primary elections in Clark County, a whopping 72% of the voters shot down the Port of Vancouver’s proposal to purchase the former Alcoa property for development of additional port industries and to extend railroad facilities through the area. During the campaign, RNA performed research to determine the condition of the Alcoa property that the Port of Vancouver was asking the taxpayers to buy, and serious issues about contamination at the site have arisen, including pollutants that the state has known to be in the Columbia River for at least the past 10 years.
The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) has been in charge of clean up at the Alcoa site since 1989. The site was initially a Superfund site, meaning it was among the most heavily contaminated properties in the entire country. Remedial activities conducted in the early 1990′s were deemed sufficient at the time to remove Alcoa from the Superfund list. A large on-site landfill (adjacent to the Columbia River) was “wrap and capped” with state oversight in order to seal in the pollutants, and other remedial activities were also completed. However, RNA working collaboratively with Columbia Riverkeeper, has raised some serious environmental concerns that continue to exist at the Alcoa property. In light of these concerns, on August 21, 2007, RNA and Columbia Riverkeeper submitted a formal Citizen Petition for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a Preliminary Assessment at the Alcoa Aluminum (Vanalco)/Evergreen Aluminum site. The purpose of this citizen petition is to ask EPA to re-list the Alcoa site as a Superfund and/or to gain better clean-up efforts on the project.
EPA acknowledged receipt of the petition, and stated that it will be reviewing available cleanup activities at Alcoa before recommending a course of action. EPA is currently reviewing investigative reports and data, prior cleanup actions, and cleanup work plans currently underway. EPA has met with Ecology’s Industrial Section staff in primary discussions, and both agencies will be coming to Vancouver to meet with RNA and other interested parties to further discuss environmental concerns at the site. EPA has assigned an investigator to manage the citizens’ petition and to organize the review process with Ecology. EPA plans to solicit valuable input from other Federal , State, Tribal and other community partners, including RNA during the petition process.
RNA has submitted the following questions and statements about cleanup activity at Alcoa:
- Ecology’s the work plan states, “What caused the original PCB hot spot [in the Columbia River and on the shoreline] was never determined in the investigation.” If the cause has not been determined, how is Ecology going to be able to determine that the contaminant has been cleaned up to standard? Also, at least one additional hot spot of PCB has been identified beyond the property lines of Alcoa, and no cause has been investigated there either. Another PCB hot spot has been discovered very near the mouth of the Flushing Channel into Vancouver Lake. Ecology says there is no plan to remedy the additional hot spot, and Ecology has not dedicated resources to identify the cause of the hotspot. The flow of the Columbia River could easily have moved PCBs from on-site at Alcoa to the nearby off-site location. When will Ecology’s 2003 Draft Work Plan be finalized? Furthermore, fish in Vancouver Lake are also known to be contaminated with PCBs, and RNA asks if it is possible for Alcoa to have contributed to pollutants in Vancouver Lake.
- The work plan describes a Temporary Storage Area adjacent to the East Landfill that contains 17,100 cubic yards of soil with concentrations of PAHs that exceed state standards. This placement is recognized as temporary/short term. The Work Plan does not sufficiently explain how this temporary storage area will be converted to permanent storage, especially since this workplan was developed in order to fast track cleanup in order to facilitate transfer of this property to the Port of Vancouver.
- Ecology admitted in a public meeting about Alcoa that contaminant from the Alcoa site is leaking into the Columbia River, and that nothing will be done to fully address this problem. The contaminant in this case is TCE, and the response was “Dilution is the solution,” meaning the river will dilute the contaminant load. The public freely accesses the river in this area for fishing, swimming, boating, clamming, etc. There is a public health risk.
- Ecology also admitted that there is groundwater contamination on site (TCE) , and that the groundwater contamination will not be pumped or treated, and will remain on site in perpetuity. There is another TCE plume in the very near vicinity being treated by the Port of Vancouver from the Cadet site. Has Ecology analyzed the effects of having two TCE plumes close together?
- Alcoa sits within an EPA designated Sole Source Aquifer — The Troutdale System. Does this have any bearing on the petition, especially when municipal groundwater wells are nearby?
- Ecology states that one of Alcoa’s smelter buildings acts as a cap to a deep-seated PCB problem more than 30 feet underground. There would be deed restrictions to develop this area, and the building would not be allowed to be removed without Ecology approval. The property is slated for re-development, so the building will obviously have to come down in the near future. What will need to be done to address this problem when the building is removed?
BURNT BRIDGE CREEK ADDED TO ECOLOGY’S WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Burnt Bridge Creek has finally been included for study under the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Improvement Project for 2008. The Rosemere Neighborhood Association along with local environmental groups and individuals have pushed for many years for Burnt Bridge Creek to be included in Ecology’s Water Quality study.
The Water Quality Improvement Project or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process was established by Section 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Act which requires states to identify sources of pollution in waters that fail to meet state water quality standards, and to develop Water Quality Improvement Reports to address those pollutants.
Washington’s Water Quality Improvement Project establishes the Total Maximum Daily Load limits on pollutants that can be discharged to the water body and still allow state standards to be met. TMDLs describe the type, amount and sources of water pollution in a particular water body; they analyze how much the pollution needs to be reduced or eliminated to meet water quality standards; and they provide targets and strategies to control the pollution.
Burnt Bridge Creek, once a beautiful fish-filled creek, has suffered from decades of pollution and neglect. The 2008 TMDL listing, which can be found at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/tmdl/tmdl_underdev.html, will bring more public scrutiny and environmental analysis to Burnt Bridge Creek, as well as being an important step toward the clean up of the watershed and our area’s groundwater.
ANNUAL TREE PLANTING EVENT
It’s time to start thinking about planting trees. Trees help to reduce global warming by reducing carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen. A typical tree produces about 260 pounds of oxygen and absorbs 26 pounds of carbon dioxide. Trees are a shade source in the summer, a habitat for birds and can reduce the energy to heat and cool our homes. They can increase property values and contribute to our neighborhood’s livability. Trees reduce noise and glare. Studies show that trees calm and slow down traffic. Trees stabilize soil, reduce erosion and mitigate flooding by intercepting an average of over 700 gallons of rainfall a year.
Rosemere Neighborhood Association, along with Friends of Trees, has had a neighborhood planting in early March for the last several years. Now is the time to start thinking about planting yard and street trees at your home. Through the Friends of Trees program, trees are very low cost. The price of the trees includes your choice of tree, the holes dug, mulch, stakes and care instructions. The trees are guaranteed for at least one year. If you are interested in participating next year, send us a message through our website. We will get back to you with all the information needed.
So come and join use in the annual tree planting event. We will have a great time planting trees with our neighbors and friends and we will all enjoy the beauty and fruits of our efforts for years to come.
CLARK COUNTY CODE 24.17 FOR ON-SITE SEWAGE SYSTEM RULES AND REGULATIONS
Clark County is in the process of fine tuning an Ordinance that will help clean up our waterways. One element of this new code will enforce regular inspections of septic systems and require repair should the systems be found faulty. Currently it is estimated that there are 7,000-9,000 septic tanks within Vancouver’s sewer service area. Many of these systems are over 25 years old and there appears to be confusion as to where some of these systems are. Failing septic systems leak sewage into Burnt Bridge Creek which flows into Vancouver Lake. Clark County’s plan will greatly improve this situation. Another public hearing will be scheduled for early October. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.co.clark.wa.us/health/environmental/septic/index.html.
DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE QUALITY OF OUR LOCAL WATER?
Rosemere Neighborhood Association has become involved in many arenas to protect our water. We want all citizens to enjoy the beauty of clean water to recreate in, bathe and drink, not just for the present, but for years to come.
We work extensively to bring this about. Please support our ongoing work by giving a tax deductible contribution. Thank you!
HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENTS
Household products such as pesticides, paints, solvents, batteries, thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, and household cleaners may be hazardous. Look for signal words such as poison, danger, warning, caution, or flammable on the label.
What Will Be Accepted At These Events? Most types of household hazardous waste will be accepted, however, all wastes must be from households.
What Will Not Be Accepted? Explosives, radioactive materials, ammunition, biological material or business generated wastes. Please call Clark County Solid Waste, (360) 397-6118 ext. 4352 for information on where to properly dispose of these items.
How Do I Prepare My Household Hazardous Waste?
• Keep products in their original containers whenever possible.
• Don’t mix products together.
• Seal products to prevent leaks and spills.
• Transport products in the trunk away from the driver and passengers.
There is a collection event scheduled for Saturday, October 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Clark County Public Works, 4700 NE 78th Street. Bring unwanted household hazardous waste, electronics, and block foam.
What If I Can’t Make It To A Collection Event? Clark County has three collection facilities that you can take your household hazardous waste to for no charge:
Central Transfer and Recycling Center
11034 NE 117th Avenue; Vancouver
Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
West Van Materials Recovery Center
6601 NW Old Lower River Road; Vancouver
Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Disposal of household hazardous wastes at facilities or events is free of charge; however, there is a 25-gallon or 220-pound limit. Clark County and its cities also sponsor a free Home Collection Program for eligible senior citizens and residents with disabilities who have no means of transporting household hazardous waste to the collection facilities or mobile collection events. To see if you qualify for this service please call Clark County Solid Waste, (360) 397-6118 ext. 4352.
Link to HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENTS (PDF document) – includes schedule as well as information on Electronics Collection Events in the area, block foam collection, and reusable items collection.