• Landmark Pact Could Speed EPA Review Of Stalled Civil Rights Complaints (reprinted with permission from Inside Washington Publishers)

    This article originally appeared in Inside EPA Weekly Report on March 26, 2010. It is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, Inside Washington Publishers. Copyright 2010. No further distribution is permitted.

    Click here to view article (pdf format):

    Rosemere Landmark Pact IEPA 03-10

  • Rosemere Settles Landmark Environmental Justice Case Against EPA

    justice2

    PRESS RELEASE****PRESS RELEASE****PRESS RELEASE

    ROSEMERE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION SETTLES LANDMARK ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CASE AGAINST EPA’S OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS

    Contact: Ralph Bloemers, Crag Law Center Tel. (503) 525-2727
    Contact: Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Tel. (360) 281-4747
    www.crag.org , www.rosemerena.org

    (March 22, 2010) Judge Benjamin H. Settle, US District Court of Washington, entered a Stipulated Judgment in favor of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association on March 19, 2010. Rosemere is a non-profit community organization based in Clark County, Washington dedicated to environmental protection and improving the status of environmental justice communities. In entering the judgment, Judge Settle approved the final Settlement Agreement between Rosemere and EPA that concludes a seven year stretch of administrative Title VI complaints and litigation.

    In February 2003, Rosemere first filed a Title VI administrative complaint with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (”OCR”) alleging that the City of Vancouver, WA had discriminated in the provision of municipal services in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rosemere alleged that Vancouver failed to use EPA funds to address fairly long-standing problems in low-income and minority neighborhoods in West Vancouver.

    Soon after, the city of Vancouver began an investigation into the internal operations of Rosemere and then revoked Rosemere’s status as a “recognized” neighborhood association. The city also stripped the neighborhood of its historical name, actions later deemed “suspicious” by EPA in an investigative report. Rosemere filed a second Title VI complaint with the EPA in December 2003 alleging retaliation by the city of Vancouver. Rosemere filed suit against EPA on two separate occasions citing EPA’s failure to accept, investigate, and issue findings on Rosemere’s complaints. Each time, EPA responded to Rosemere only after the litigation was filed and EPA sought to dismiss the cases as “moot.”

    In September 2009, the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s ruling to dismiss Rosemere, citing EPA’s “consistent pattern of delay.” The appellate court substantiated the claim that Rosemere is in “realistic danger of sustaining a direct injury as a result of the agency’s [EPA's'] disregard of its own regulations.” Chris Winter, an attorney with the Crag Law Center, a Portland-based public interest law firm, represented Rosemere in all three cases against the EPA. “For years, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights ignored civil rights complaints from all across the country. This case sheds light on a long-standing national struggle for justice.”

    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere’s Director of Environment and Conservation, said “We will continue to push the Office of Civil Rights to do the job it was supposed to do years ago, and insist that EPA clean up its act.” In the Settlement Agreement, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights admits that its actions were unlawful when it failed to process Rosemere’s complaint of retaliation against the City of Vancouver. The Stipulated Judgment and Settlement Agreement require the EPA to take action on any additional Title VI complaints submitted by Rosemere over the next five years in accordance with regulatory timelines. The Stipulated Judgment and Settlement Agreement also require EPA to report quarterly to the Rosemere Neighborhood Association for the next five years and specifically track the status of all Title VI administrative complaints submitted to and investigated by EPA.

    To view documents, click on these links:
    Stipulated Judgment Rosemere v EPA
    Signed Settlement Agmt Rosemere v EPA
    Ninth Circuit Court Decision Rosemere v EPA

  • EPA Moves Forward With Site Inspection of Camp Bonneville for Consideration to List as Superfund Site

    camp_bonneville

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 10 Office has announced the results of its Preliminary Assessment of Camp Bonneville, the former US Military installation in Clark County, Washington.

    In a letter dated March 1, 2010, EPA informed Camp Bonneville cleanup contractors and the Washington State Department of Ecology that based on the information gathered in the Preliminary Assessment Report, “additional investigation is warranted” of the Camp Bonneville Site under CERCLA [Superfund*].

    According to the EPA’s report,

    “the objectives of a Preliminary Assessment are:

    • To determine whether the site is releasing or has the potential to release hazardous constituents into the environment;
    • Identify potential public health and/or environmental threats posed by the site;
    • Assess the need for additional investigation and/or response action at the site; and
    • Determine the potential for placement of the site on the National Priorities List (NPL).”

    The report states the Preliminary Assessment was conducted in response to a formal Preliminary Assessment Petition dated February 3, 2009, submitted by the Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Columbia Riverkeeper under Section 105(d) of CERCLA.

    EPA is directing its own contractor, Ecology and Environment, Inc., of Seattle, Washington, to arrange the followup investigations, also known as Site Inspection:

    From the EPA website:

    “The Site Inspection program identifies potential cleanup sites that have a high probability of qualifying for the National Priorities List (Superfund), and provides the data needed for Hazard Ranking System scoring and documentation. Site Inspection investigators typically collect samples to determine what hazardous substances are present at a site, and whether they are being released into the environment.

    EPA Preliminary Assessment Report of Camp Bonneville finds

    “the sources that appear most likely to contribute current or future contamination at the site are the firing target area, the Central Impact Target Area, the OB/OD area and Landfill4.”

    The firing target area is of concern because of “previous detections of heavy metals in the soil and because UXO [unexploded ordinance] has historically been present in these areas….there is still the possibility that people may wander outside of the cleared areas and encounter UXO.”  There is “confirmed presence of lead and RDX contaminated soil” in the Central Impact Target Area and “it is possible that contamination may migrate from this source through ground water or surface water runoff to Lacamas Creek….The OBD/OD area is of concern due to the presence of historic RDX and arsenic contaminated soil. Landfill 4 is of concern due to the continued presence of perchlorate in the ground water.”  Ground water sampling has found  “a perchlorate ground water plume is present at the site in the area surrounding Landfill4/Demolition Area 1.”

    The report recommends more “robust” modeling and testing of groundwater flow and transport to determine the impact on the Troutdale Sole Source Aquifer.

    You can view EPA’s Preliminary Assessment report by clicking on the following links (pdf format):

    EPA Preliminary Assessment Report – Camp Bonneville

    Tables & Maps for EPA Preliminary Assessment Report

    You can view Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s  Preliminary Assessment Petition from February 3, 2009, by clicking on the following links (pdf format):

    Preliminary Assessment Petition – Camp Bonneville

    Tables & Maps for Preliminary Assessment Petition – Camp Bonneville

    Here is a snapshot of the Summary and Conclusions, Section 4, (which can be found on Pages 79 & 80) from EPA Preliminary Assessment Report:

    epasummarypage1

    epasummarypg2

    *CERCLA is The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), amended in 1986 by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, (SARA), commonly known as Superfund. For more information on CERCLA and Superfund designations go to the EPA website at http://epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm.

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