• WA Court of Appeals Rules County’s Plan to Manage Polluted Runoff Illegal

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    September 26, 2012

    Contacts:
    Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice
    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper
    Mark Riskedahl, Northwest Environmental Defense Center

    WA Court of Appeals Rules County’s Plan to Manage Polluted Runoff Illegal

    Taxpayer subsidy, fish-killing loopholes scrapped by judges
    as violations to clean water laws

    Tacoma, WA – In a major decision with statewide impacts in Washington State, a court of appeals ruled Clark County’s weak development rules that allow too much polluted runoff violate state and federal laws to protect clean water. The ruling, announced late Tuesday, signals an end to the county’s on-going failure to protect rivers, streams and salmon threatened with extinction.

    “We applaud the court of appeals for recognizing that Clark County’s refusal to comply with clean water laws is unfair to other cities and counties in our state, not to mention industries, that continue to work hard to clean up our polluted waterways,” said Dvija Michael Bertish of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “As residents of Clark County who enjoy fishing and swimming in our local rivers, we’re fed up with our elected officials’ attempts to compromise our health and safety—especially when the law requires otherwise.”

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, represented by Earthjustice, challenged Clark County’s adoption of development standards that were too weak to prevent significant harm to the county’s already-stressed rivers and streams. “The Court of Appeals ruling comes down to this—clean water is our future and everyone needs to do their share to keep our water clean,” said Jan Hasselman from Earthjustice, who is representing the groups.

    Polluted runoff, or stormwater, is a toxic stew of metals, oil, grease, pesticide, herbicides, bacteria and nutrients. When it rains, the toxic runoff drains off roofs and streets in amounts that seriously degrade water quality and kill marine life. The county and an association of developers appealed a January 2011 ruling of the state Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) that the county is out of compliance with federal clean water laws and shifted the burden of protecting clean water from developers to local taxpayers.

    Specifically, the PCHB found Clark County’s stormwater program:

    • Is not based on any science and failed to protect water quality and salmon.
    • Unlawfully exempts development projects that “vested” prior to April of 2010.
    • Unlawfully allows Clark County to shift resources from its existing retrofit program to mitigate for new development.
    • Unlawfully fails to require “low impact development” at new development and mitigation sites.

    The Court of Appeals concurred. “Not only has Clark County violated the law, it is ignoring the very real economic and quality of life costs associated with dirty stormwater pollution,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “The County’s rogue approach to dealing with stormwater pollution ignores the very real costs of increased flooding, polluted drinking water, and toxics in fish. It’s time stop using outdated thinking and transition to much greater reliance on low impact development and better land use planning. The stakes are too high for delay.”

    The county has 30 days to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court if it chooses. Additionally, a federal court has stayed an enforcement action against the county until the appeals court rules, and is likely to open the case now that the appeal is resolved.

    A copy of the Court of Appeals ruling can be downloaded here: WA COURT OF APPEALS D2 41833-9-II PUBLISHED OPINION

    A copy is available online here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=418339MAJ

    Other news links:

    Editorial: County Keeps Hearing ‘No’ – Stormwater rules fight is being lost in the courts; it’s time to give up

    Clark County loses stormwater ruling

    Washington court rules against Clark County in polluted runoff case

    Clark County loses polluted runoff case

    #

  • Media Advisory: State Appeals Court Hears Arguments by County to Circumvent Clean Water Act

    Media Advisory for July 2, 2012

    CONTACTS:
    Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1025 (Available July 2)
    Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1029
    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association, (360) 281-4747
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper, (503) 348-2436

    State Appeals Court Hears Arguments by
    County to Circumvent Clean Water Act Protections of Fish and Water Quality

    Community and Clean Water Advocates ask court to ensure federal clean water laws are followed to protect rivers and salmon.

    WHAT: Hearing before Washington State Court of Appeals in Tacoma

    WHEN: July 2, 2012, 9 a.m.

    WHERE: Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II 950 Broadway, Suite 300, Tacoma, WA 98402 (Allow time to go through courthouse security.)

    WHY: Clark County deserves strong, uniform laws that protect clean water, sensitive aquatic environments and endangered species– the same requirements that over 100 other cities and counties in Washington have been complying with since 2008. Stronger stormwater controls are needed now. According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study on stormwater, Vancouver, WA showed a wide suite of contaminants, including some of the highest levels of pesticides, suspended solids, and trace elements including mercury. A copy of the USGS stormwater study is attached.

    BACKGROUND:
    Federal law required Clark County and nearly 100 other cities and counties in Western Washington to adopt new rules governing runoff from development by August of 2008. In 2009, Clark County decided that it would not comply with the terms of a stormwater permit required by the Clean Water Act. The Department of Ecology confronted Clark County for its permit violation but later backed down and agreed to allow Clark County to retain inadequate stormwater standards for new developments in exchange for a promise to implement taxpayer-funded mitigation projects that were much less protective. This didn’t protect streams polluted by development runoff and shifted the burden of protecting clean water to local taxpayers instead of developers. In 2010, community and clean water groups represented by Earthjustice, challenged Clark County’s weak stormwater runoff rules to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. In January 2011, the pollution board ruled in the community and clean water groups’ favor. The pollution board found Clark County’s weaker program to be illegal in several respects:

    • It is not based on any science and fails to protect water quality and salmon.
    • It unlawfully exempts development projects that “vested” (applied for a permit) prior to April of 2010.
    • It unlawfully allows Clark County to shift resources from its existing retrofit program to mitigate for new
    development.
    • It unlawfully fails to require “low impact development” at new development and mitigation sites.

    Clark County’s Commissioners appealed the Pollution Board’s ruling to the state Court of Appeals. The Builders’ Association joined in the appeal seeking weaker water pollution standards and the appeal will be heard July 2. Last December in a related matter, a federal judge issued a preliminary ruling that Clark County’s controversial development standards appear to violate federal laws to protect clean water. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton means Clark County must comply with federal clean water laws while the state court challenge is pending. The community and clean water groups include Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. They are represented by attorneys Jan Hasselman and Janette Brimmer of the non-profit public interest law firm Earthjustice.

    #

    To view or print a pdf version of this Media Advisory please click here.

  • PRESS RELEASE: New EPA Study shows contamination at Camp Bonneville has migrated

    ************ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***************

    NEW EPA STUDY SHOWS CONTAMINATION
    AT CAMP BONNEVILLE HAS MIGRATED

    Contact: Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association
    360-281-4747

    Original Release: May 31, 2012
    Update: June 8, 2012

    EPA Region X (Seattle Office) has published a May 2012 Technical Data Report entitled “Camp Bonneville Expanded Site Inspection, Vancouver WA” (Technical Document Number 11-02-0010), prepared by Ecology and Environment, Inc, Seattle WA.

    This report is phase II of a study EPA is conducting on-site to determine the level and pathways of contamination at the site. This study was performed subsequent to a February 2009 petition by the Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Columbia Riverkeeper requesting the site be analyzed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to determine possible Superfund status and placement of the site on the National Priorities List. The petition was filed following a litany of cleanup management problems led by the Washington State Department of Ecology, Clark County, and former cleanup Contractor Mike Gage.

    From May 2012 EPA Site Inspection Report:

    Perchlorate contamination associated with on-site sources is migrating and has
    reached North Fork Lacamas Creek and Lacamas Creek within the site boundaries….
    Based on sample results, contamination is present at on-site sources at significant concentrations.

    The Camp Bonneville Site Inspection scored above 28.5 points in an internal EPA scoring process, the threshold required to meet Superfund requirements. Next steps include regional EPA management meetings with local and state officials to determine plans on how to address the newly identified contaminant issues, and to discuss the potential of Superfund Status.

    High levels of perchlorate (used in mortars that were fired at the site) are suspected by some scientists to be a carcinogen, and are known to cause other serious health impacts. Pregnant women and children are at higher risks for adverse health impacts from perchlorate. Exposure is known to occur from drinking water contaminated with perchlorate. Significant levels of lead, mercury, HMX/RDX explosives, volatile/semi-volatile organics, and heavy metals are also present at significant concentrations at Camp Bonneville and can become mobile with stormwater activity.

    According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry “Toxic Substances Portal” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov:

    • Living near a waste site or a rocket manufacturing or testing facility that contains high levels of perchlorate in the soil or groundwater may expose you to higher levels.
    • Perchlorates will eventually end up in ground water.
    • High levels of perchlorates can affect the thyroid gland, which in turn can alter the function of many organs in the body. The fetus and young children can be especially susceptible. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that lead and lead compounds are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens and the EPA has determined that lead is a probable human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that inorganic lead is probably carcinogenic to humans.
    • Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.
    • The EPA has determined that mercuric chloride and methylmercury are possible human carcinogens.
    • Studies in children have suggested that extremely high levels of manganese exposure may produce undesirable effects on brain development, including changes in behavior and decreases in the ability to learn and remember.

    Items specified in the May 2012 EPA Site Inspection Report:

    1) Perchlorate concentration trends in ground water samples have been variable despite Interim Removal Actions that have occurred. Perchlorate is a suspected carcinogen used in rocket fuel, such as in mortars fired at the site. Perchlorate levels remain in excess of state cleanup standards at various monitoring locations. HMX and RDX, additional toxic explosives are also found in the ground water at levels that exceed state standards.

    2) Ground water also shows elevated concentrations of 12 metals: barium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, mercury, nickel, strontium, titanium, vanadium, zinc. Semivolatile organic compounds were also detected.

    3) Surface water runoff (stormwater) from the site to water bodies is a migration pathway, and this pathway extends downstream for 15 miles. Local fishing could be impacted.

    4) Elevated levels of perchlorate, strontium and Volatile/Semivolatile Organics have been found in sediment samples along the North Fork of Lacamas Creek.

    5) Surface water samples show elevated levels of manganese and perchlorate in Lacamas Creek.

    6) Soil samples indicate elevated levels of RDX, perchlorate, lead, Volatile/Semivolatile Organic Compounds, Nickel, and other toxics at various site Target Areas, Target Impact Areas, Artillery Positions, Firing Ranges, and Demolition/Landfill areas.

    7) A Total of 64 Target/Receptor samples were collected, including 20 ground water samples, 10 surface water samples, 33 sediment samples and one surface soil sample. The sample results show that the contamination at significant concentrations from on-site sources is migrating and has reached these targets/receptors. Targets and receptors of sample locations include wetlands.

    9) Perchlorate contamination associated with on-site sources is migrating and has reached North Fork Lacamas Creek and Lacamas Creek within the site boundaries. Perchlorate was detected at elevated concentrations in surface water from the creeks.

    10) Analytical results show that contamination continues to impact ground water.

    11) Approximately 9,627 people use ground water for drinking water purposes within the 4 mile Target Distance Limit used in this study, including the presence of 3,269 domestic wells. The nearest well is within 1/4 mile of the site.

    To view or download this Press Release please click here: RNA PRESS RELEASE: EPA Camp Bonneville Expanded Site Inspection Report May 2012

    To view complete EPA Camp Bonneville Expanded Site Inspection Report: http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/camp_bonneville/Camp_Bonneville_Expanded_Site_Inspection_Report.pdf

    For EPA Camp Bonneville Site Summary information: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/CB

    To see Portland TV station KGW Channel 8′s story on Camp Bonneville, “Toxins found in Lacamas Creek”, go to our video page here  http://www.rosemerena.org/home/videos/

    ***********************

    Activists Resist DOD Bid To Block EPA Policy Changes During Cleanups

    In a related story, this article originally appeared in Inside EPA Weekly Report on April 20, 2012. It is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, Inside Washington Publishers. Copyright 2012. No further distribution is permitted.

    Click here to view article (pdf format): Activists Resist DOD Bid To Block EPA Policy Changes During Cleanups 4-2012

  • Community Representatives Sign Letter to EPA & DOD Urging Inclusive Military Cleanup Discussions

    Representatives from community and environmental groups from across the United States and Puerto Rico have signed a letter to Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and Mathy Stanislaus, Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator, urging more comprehensive transparent and inclusive discussions on military cleanup regulatory requirements.

    We are representatives of communities that host active, closing, and former military facilities. We ask that we, as well as state and tribal regulatory agencies, be brought into this important conversation.
    We are sympathetic to the desire to have a consistent set of regulatory requirements from U.S. EPA or other regulatory agencies. However, twenty-six years after the establishment of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, we expect some natural evolution in cleanup regulation as new problems are discovered and the scientific knowledge of the impacts of pollutants changes.

    We support Congressman Sam Farr’s suggestion that a forum be created in which regulators, the military components, and affected communities seek common ground to achieve faster, more efficient, and more protective cleanups.

    The letter dated April 14, 2012, was signed by Rosemere Neighborhood Association along with representatives of environmental and community groups, including Earth Island Institute, Arc Ecology, United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, and representatives of the Restoration Advisory Boards of former Defense sites in a dozen states.

    To view the letter please click here: Communities Letter on Military Cleanup

  • Judge Leighton Denies Clark County Motion For Bond

    US District Court Tacoma

    U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton has denied Clark County’s request that Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper and Northwest Environmental Defense Center (Rosemere et al) post a monetary bond in their ongoing stormwater case.

    In January 2011, the Washington State Pollution Control Board ruled that Clark County’s “alternative” plan for monitoring stormwater was illegal  (see full story here).  Clark County subsequently filed an appeal of the Pollution Board’s ruling, but in December 2011, Judge Leighton ruled that pending their appeal, Clark County must comply with Washington State’s stormwater guidelines (story here).

    In January, Clark County also filed a motion asking the court to require Rosemere et al to post a $2.9 million bond (later reduced to $1.1 million) in the event the county wins in state court the plaintiffs could pay damages.

    Yesterday, Judge Leighton ruled against defendant Clark County’s motion saying,

    Here, Plaintiff has little or no means to post a substantial bond. The litigation seeks to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act, and as such, is in the public interest. Further, Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, given the indications of the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

    See full order here: ORDER DENYING MOTION TO ESTABLISH BOND

  • CITIZENS FIGHT FOR CLEAN WATER IN CLARK COUNTY

    Fighting For Clean Water

    CITIZENS TAKE ON CLARK COUNTY’S FAILED ATTEMPT TO MAKE TAXPAYERS PAY FOR DEVELOPERS’ STORMWATER POLLUTION

    Nationwide, stormwater is the leading source of water pollution. This is also true for the Columbia River Basin. In urban areas, rain runs across dirty pavement and roofs, picking up toxic metals, oil, grease, bacteria and other contaminants along the way.

    Experts across the country agree: the cost of stormwater pollution is steep. Murky, smelly streams and rivers and fish advisories warning people not to eat otherwise healthy, locally caught fish are a stark reminder of the public costs of stormwater pollution. Yet Clark County tried to make taxpayers pay for stormwater impacts that are the responsibility of private development. Taxpayer dollars already support public stormwater infrastructure and now its time for developers to pay their share.

    IGNORING COMMON SENSE

    Why is Clark County Trying to Evade Protections for Safe, Swimmable Rivers and Livable Communities?

    In 2010, local citizens and conservation groups successfully challenged Clark County’s sweetheart deal with Washington State regulators—a deal that made Clark County the only major county in the state to avoid critical steps to reduce stormwater pollution. Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled that the County’s controversial development standards violated state laws to protect clean water. In 2011, a federal court judge also found that Clark County’s actions likely violate the federal Clean Water Act.

    Not only is Clark County violating the law, it is ignoring the very real economic and quality of life costs associated with stormwater pollution. For example, stormwater pollution:

    • Increases flooding—the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that stormwater causes or contributes to at least one quarter of economic losses due to flooding—or $1 billion per year.
    • Adds costs to providing safe drinking water.
    • Threatens public health.
    • Impacts fishing opportunities and water recreation.

    CITIZENS FIGHT FOR CLEAN WATER IN CLARK COUNTY

    Many cities and counties in Washington State are working hard to clean up polluted waterways. One of the primary ways Washington State is trying to reduce stormwater pollution is by requiring new development and redevelopment to control stormwater as it leaves the property.

    CONTINUED….Click here for the full document: CITIZENS FIGHT FOR CLEAN WATER IN CLARK COUNTY

  • Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate Polluted Runoff Standards

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 29, 2011

    Contacts:
    Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340 ext. 1029
    Dvija Michael Bertish, Rosemere Neighborhood Association, 360-281-4747
    Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper, 503-348-2436

    Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate
    Polluted Runoff Standards

    Injunction requires Clark County to shelve fish-killing loopholes
    in its development standards

    Tacoma, WA.—A Washington state county’s controversial development standards appear to violate federal laws to protect clean water, according to a preliminary ruling by a U.S. District Court Judge.

    The decision, issued December 28 by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, means Clark County must comply with federal clean water laws, like other cities and counties in the state, to protect rivers, streams and salmon threatened with extinction. The ruling applies to development projects permitted or approved by the county on or after the court’s order while a related state court appeal is pending.

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, represented by Earthjustice, challenged Clark County’s failure to protect threatened salmon.

    “Many cities and counties in our state are working hard to clean up polluted waterways and now Clark County must finally do the same,” said Janette Brimmer, an Earthjustice attorney who is representing the groups. “The ruling recognizes that everyone needs to do their share to protect our precious streams, rivers and salmon and that Clark County, like everyone else, must follow the law.”

    Last year, the neighborhood and conservation groups prevailed before the state Pollution Control Hearings Board, which hears appeals of state environmental regulations and permits. In January of this year, the Board rejected the county’s “alternative” plan for managing polluted stormwater runoff finding that it violated the County’s stormwater permit and was too weak to prevent significant harm to already stressed rivers and streams.

    The County’s inadequate “alternative” plan was developed in a compromise with the Department of Ecology (Ecology), which oversees the federal Clean Water Act. Stormwater runoff a major source of water pollution because it is a stew of toxic metals, oil, grease, pesticides, herbicides, bacteria that runs off pavement into streams and rivers.

    Clark County refused to implement the required development runoff standards. After finding Clark County in violation of its stormwater permit, the Department of Ecology yielded to county pressure and agreed to allow Clark County to retain inadequate stormwater standards for development in exchange for a promise to implement taxpayer-funded mitigation projects. The controversial approach did not protect streams polluted by development runoff and shifted the burden of protecting clean water from developers to local taxpayers.

    As noted by the federal court, the Board had found the program to be illegal in several important respects. Specifically, the Clark County program:

    • Is not based on any science and fails to protect water quality and salmon.
    • Unlawfully exempts development projects that “vested” prior to April of 2010.
    • Unlawfully allows Clark County to shift resources from its existing retrofit program to mitigate for new development.
    • Unlawfully fails to require “low impact development” at new development and mitigation sites.

    Clark County appealed the Board decision in state court and refused to comply with the Board’s decision, forcing clean water advocates to take the matter to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to enforce the Clean Water Act.

    Judge Leighton’s preliminary ruling agreed that the clean water advocacy groups have demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claims that Clark County’s inadequate development standards for polluted runoff violate the Clean Water Act and that irreparable harm to the environment is the result.

    The judge therefore imposed an obligation on the County to follow the original requirements of its stormwater permit; the same requirements that over 100 other cities and counties in Western Washington have been complying with since 2008.

    Judge Leighton’s order states:

    “Environmental injury, by its nature, is often permanent or at least of long duration” (page 11)
    “The public interest favors compliance with environmental laws” (page 12) and the Clean Water Act requires strict enforcement to effectuate its purpose of protecting sensitive aquatic environments” (id)
    “…More than 100 cities and counties in Western Washington are subject to the Phase I [stormwater] Permit’s default flow control standard and are apparently able to comply with its requirements.” (id)

    “Our association applauds the judge’s order because it reinforces that we need to do everything we can to stop undermining water quality,” said Dvija Michael Bertish of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association. “Clark County has ignored the public’s concerns about stormwater violations,and we hope the court’s decision will bring the County back into
    compliance with the law in order to protect the water and endangered species.”

    “Columbia River salmon and our communities need clean water,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Clark County must take steps to reduce pollution.”

    The clean water groups include Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper, and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center. They are represented by attorneys Janette Brimmer and Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice.

    A copy of the ruling is available here: SJOrderGrantingPreliminaryInjunction12-28-11.pdf

    To view this Press Release in pdf format click here: For Immediate Release:Federal Judge Suspends County’s Inadequate Polluted Runoff Standards.pdf

    ##

  • 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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