• PEAC Comments on Final Environmental Impact Statement for I-5 Columbia River Crossing Project

    I-5 Interstate Bridge Over Columbia River

    Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (“PEAC”), the Environmental Legal Clinic of Lewis & Clark Law School, has submitted comments on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups on the Columbia River Crossing Project (“CRC”) Final Environmental Impact Statement.

    PEAC clients include Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Coalition for a Livable Future, the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Columbia Riverkeeper, the Portland Audubon Society, Oregon Public Health Institute, Upstream Public Health, and Association of Oregon Rail and Trail Advocates. PEAC also states that although it specifically represents these groups, it is “in fact representing the concerns and views of a broad and diverse coalition of groups.”

    To date, CRC has established a pattern of ignoring input from these environmental and stakeholder groups concerned about the proposed bridge design impacts to our sole source aquifer, surface and groundwater resources, salmon, air quality, general public health concerns and other environmental impacts.

    In this document PEAC details all these concerns and the various technical reports behind them, finding,

    Overall it is remarkable how much incomplete and missing analysis is found when the public reviews this FEIS, which has already cost Oregon and Washington taxpayers more than $130 million. This would be Oregon’s largest public works project, and its taxpayers and the taxpayers of Washington are entitled to a much more thorough and complete analysis, a true comparison of all reasonable alternatives that “sharply defines the issues and provide[s] a clear basis of choice among options” (40 C.F.R. § 1502.14), and a meaningful opportunity to review and comment on all of those things in a supplemental DEIS.

    While the coalition is not “anti-bridge”, it does charge CRC with the responsibility to not harm our environment, destroy our resources or our community and to be fiscally responsible.

    PEAC concludes with,

    For all the reasons set forth above, PEAC respectfully requests, on behalf of its clients listed below, that the responsible federal agencies and the CRC Task Force withdraw the CRC FEIS and issue a corrected Supplemental DEIS for public comment.

    You can read the entire PEAC document “Comments on September 2011 Final Environmental Impact Statement for I-5 Columbia Crossing Project” here: PEAC_Comments_on_CRC_FEIS
    (pdf format – please note this is a fairly large document a may take a moment to open)

  • EPA Testing Results at Camp Bonneville Show Contaminated Plume Growing & Moving

    EPA has released the initial results of its testing at Camp Bonneville, the former US Military installation in Clark County, Washington.

    EPA is conducting assessment of the known and suspected release of hazardous substances at Camp Bonneville to determine whether it warrants listing under the Superfund Program following a petition from Rosemere Neighborhood Association (RNA).

    The first round of samples was collected last May (2011) and EPA’s report on that testing can be found http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/camp_bonneville/bonneville-p1-sample-results.pdf.

    The second round of data was collected in August (2011) and that report is expected in January 2012. Following the secondary reports, EPA will score the site to determine Superfund status upon which a final report will be released.

    RNA brought the Superfund petition in 2009 citing faulty clean-up efforts at the site where live munition drills and chemical warfare had been conducted for decades. RNA contended in its petition that contamination from buried military munitions and chemicals, including the continued rise of measured perchlorate and RDX, has leached into the soil and groundwater at the site. RNA was also concerned that the plume of toxic chemicals had become mobile threatening Lacamas Creek. Lacamas Creek feeds into Lacamas Lake and ultimately into the Columbia River.

    EPA’s latest data reveal – as suspected by RNA – that the plume has traveled and has become larger, possibly entering the creek flow or infiltrating below the creek to the opposite shore. Although RNA had raised these concerns to the Washington State Department of Ecology for years, Ecology officials had maintained that topography would prevent any additional test wells from being established. Based on RNA’s petition and subsequent discussions regarding hydrologic flow, EPA successfully installed additional testing wells in suspect areas that proved the plume had moved.

    The danger to surrounding groundwater and surface water would have gone undiscovered had it not been for the Superfund petition brought by RNA. Following the incomplete clean-up led by Mike Gage and BCCRT, property ownership of Camp Bonneville was to go back to Clark County over a month ago, but the transfer of ownership has been stalled due to a dispute that Gage has with the Washington State Department of Revenue. All other contractors who worked on the initial phases of clean-up at the site have paid their taxes, but Mike Gage has thus far refused to pay his taxes. Apparently clean-up will be stalled until Gage’s tax dispute is resolved.

    Around $28 million has been spent on the Bonneville clean-up thus far including extensive efforts to alleviate the contaminated goundwater plume. The groundwater contamination was initially caused by munitions that had been buried in landfills. The landfills were evacuated but during that process the backhoes began to sink and they were not able to remove all of the contaminated soil. As a result, much of the contaminated soil was left behind and the remaining holes were filled with porous, loamy soil that was extremely permeable and allowed the plume to become mobile.

    EPA Camp Bonneville page can be found here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/CB

    Direct link to the Camp Bonneville Phase 1 Sample Results Report is here: http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/camp_bonneville/bonneville-p1-sample-results.pdf

    UPDATE:

    Responding to the EPA test results announcement, Clark County Department of Public Works Project Manager, Jerry Barnett, said, “The county will meet with Ecology and the EPA to determine the significance of these results. Findings include perchlorate in sediments and subsurface water adjacent to Lacamas Creek at concentrations below cleanup levels.”

    However, while EPA might agree to discuss site assessment as a process, it is premature to be discussing the “significance” of the data. As explained above, EPA management will not conduct its complete review of the data until next year after all phases of testing have been completed.

    The Washington Department of Ecology also announced Thursday that it is opening a period of public review and comment on an updated legal agreement for the cleanup of Camp Bonneville. Under the proposed Amended Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree between Clark County and Ecology, Clark County will take the lead role in the cleanup of Camp Bonneville. Ecology will accept comments on the proposal from Oct. 14 through Nov. 17, 2011.

    For more information go to Ecology’s website here: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2011/277.html

    For the amended decree, click here: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=11670

    You can send comments to Ecology on the draft documents from Oct. 14 through Nov. 17.

    Here’s how you can submit comments:

    By US Mail:
    Ben Forson, Site Manager
    Washington Department of Ecology
    Toxics Cleanup Program
    P.O. Box 47600
    Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

    By Email to:
    bfor461@ecy.wa.gov

  • Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s Clean Water Act settlement victory leads to changes at Millennium coal terminal in Longview, $50,000 in mitigation payments

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Longview based Land Owners and Citizens for a Safe Community have prevailed in their efforts to bring substantial pollution reduction changes to the Millennium Bulk Logistics coal terminal in Longview. The settlement was finalized just days before the community groups planned to file a federal Clean Water Act suit in federal district court against Millennium and their Australian parent company Ambre Energy. Millennium claimed to be operating under a permit first issued to Reynolds Aluminum over 20 years ago.

    The agreement creates substantial new limits on the operation of the facility and requires Millennium to obtain a new pollution permit that will update the outdated pollution limits which are now two decades old.

    A summary of key points from the settlement is below. The entire settlement document can be found here: FINAL Settlement Agreement RNA & LCSC vs MBTL

    Clean Water Act settlement summary:

    Under the agreement with Rosemere Neighborhood Association & Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, until Millennium Bulk Terminals/Longview receives a new Clean Water Act discharge permit from Ecology, Millennium must:

    1. Remove coal and pet coke piles: Millennium will have to remove the massive outdoor coal and petroleum coke piles that have dominated the site in recent years. Millennium will also be prohibited from any outdoor storage of coal. Millennium has already moved much if not all of the coal pile inside the old aluminum plant buildings and plans to remove the pet coke piles within six months.
    2. No new customers: Millennium is prohibited from providing coal to any new customers and thus the terminal is limited to providing coal to Weyerhauser.
    3. New pollution reduction measures: The agreement requires Millennium to implement a capital project to cover over its coal conveyors used to move coal around the site to prevent rainfall from contacting the coal. It is also required to install EPA- certified pollution control filters at stormwater inlets.
    4. Penalty payment of $50,000. In lieu of any Clean Water Act penalties Millennium will pay a $50,000 “Supplemental Environmental Project” in two increments to Friends of the East Fork, which works on habitat restoration for salmon.
    5. Commitment to obtain new pollution control permit: After LCSC and Rosemere filed its notice of intent to sue Millennium filed for a new pollution control permit with the Dept. of Ecology. Under the settlement Millennium must continue to move forward with this new permit which should provide significantly tougher pollution limits on the terminal than those contained in the 20-year old permit Millennium says currently applies to its operations.
    6. Attorney fees and costs. Millennium will pay all of LCSC and Rosemere’s attorneys fees and costs for preparing the case.

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