The agency's answers to the questions members of the CIG have been asking has been posted in the document repository in the Agency/CIG Communications section. These answers will be discussed at the June 18 CIG meeting. Members of the EPA, DEC, and DOH will be in attendance.
The agencies stated different remedial techniques may be used on similar properties but the outcome will be the same level of arsenic for all. How can similar properties have the same final soil cleanup levels since each technique will have different efficiencies?
The phrase "different approaches to confirmatory sampling" used in this answer requires an explanation. How will this affect the outcome?
It's implied the agencies will have the final word as to what the outcome will be. Why doesn't the property owner have more of a say on what is an acceptable level?
The remediation along Vernon St., Park Ave. and the culvert south of Sleeper St. are the only examples of residential property remediation that exists in Middleport. There were very few trees left standing. A comparison of property appearance between the east and west sides of South Vernon St. clearly shows the result. This is what concerns many residents. It makes no difference whether its from an ICM or a CMS. There are no assurances that after all that will be done during the CMS, the outcome will be different then an ICM.
What is the definition of "elevated arsenic"? At what point does arsenic become elevated to a level of concern or danger?
The comment: "The Agencies believe that a presentation of all the facts and information to the community in an uncomplicated manner, along with a frank discussion of remedial options with community members, is the best way to gain substantial community acceptance of the final remedial outcome." causes concern. Past performances by the agencies where they have explained "the facts" were nothing more than self serving monologues filled with one sided truths and statements meant to scare residents. This type of discussion needs to be balanced. The difference of levels of arsenic in soil needs to be taken into account during the discussion. How elevated does arsenic need to be to become a serious hazard? It is doubted 30 PPM reduced to 20 PPM is a significant reduction in risk. Also, residents should not be threatened. Several people on Vernon St. believe they were coerced into having their properties remediated.
It is agreed many of the residents on Park Ave. welcomed the remediation of their properties. It is not clear how the dangers of arsenic was explained to them (the above paragraph). They also live in the shadows of FMC and probably the closest to the plant which may have caused a higher level of concern. From what has been said, it is doubtful the residents of Vernon St. feel the same about their cleanup.
The answer to this question is incorrect. Mr. Walter Mugden of the EPA, stated in a seminar at the Middleport High School during a discussion of the remediation on Vernon St., "red letters" would be attached to deeds for properties whose owners would not allow remediation. The agencies may be in denial it was said but an auditorium full of residents heard it. If "red letters" or some other method will not be used, then either a public statement needs to be made by the agencies that the policy has changed or an admittance that the statement made by Mr. Mugden was incorrect.
The agencies have misunderstood the "stigma" in Middleport. The ill feeling may not be from what FMC did with past practices but what the agencies are doing now by continuing a project for over 20 years the residents regard as questionable. The presence of the agencies and this forever on going project is what may be affecting property values. From what has been said by some residents, the "perceived character of the community" is a concern because of the results of past remediation, the lose of landscape (trees), and the potential results of future remediation. It's not the slight elevation of arsenic levels in residential soils. The Agencies may believe any perceived stigma can be removed through the cleanup by FMC of all affected properties which require remediation. They may be mistaken.
The answer given for this question says little. If the decision making is done in Albany and New York, then representatives from those offices need to attend the monthly meetings to have a meaningful discussion. Although Mr. Mike Hinton of the DEC Region 9 does attend, he cannot make decisions for the DEC but can only give opinions on what decisions may be made. It was believed a better dialog with the agencies could be had if Region 9 was given more authority. Two months ago, in a discussion on this subject, it was mentioned Region 9 may be given this higher authority for decision making. Has this idea been abandoned?
The answer given for this question refers to the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). This regulation seems to have a more strict criteria in regards to cancer rates than the EPA Soil Cleanup Objectives. When reviewing the Summary of the BCP on the NYSDEC web site, it is not clear this regulation applies to Middleport. We are not addressing a brownfield site were redevelopment or reuse is anticipated nor are we talking about a hazardous waste or petroleum contamination.
It is known .11 PPM of arsenic in soil is impossible to attain in New York State because typical background levels are much higher. So why is this level even part of the discussion? The "New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program Development of Soil Cleanup Objectives Technical Support Document" states as much. That's why the various sampling programs were done to establish a background level for the state. Bringing in this argument does little but to emphasize the agencies desire to cleanup every spec of arsenic with the result of the entire community looking like Vernon St.
Just because the agencies were not involved in FMC's bioavailability study shouldn't mean that study should be ignored. If the agencies do not believe urine analysis is a good test, what do they suggest as an alternative?
The agencies need to point out where in the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) it was stated using the 98th percentile for calculations of background level was not for orchards or areas near a hazardous waste site. There is a difference between stated and implied criteria.
It appears there may be a conflicting definition of "background level". It was believed the purpose of this project was to have an end result which would leave Middleport with arsenic levels as if FMC was never here. However orchard areas would still have existed and property owners would still have sprayed trees and fertilized lawns. The statistical results of the background level expected in Middleport using Gasport data indicated the level could be higher than 20 PPM.
It appears the agencies are ignoring a major point by looking at only historic orchards as the only alternate source of arsenic in soil. This community had residents who worked for FMC. They had trees in their yards which they sprayed with products brought home. Yards may have also been sprayed for insects and fertilized. To blame FMC for this is inappropriate. These products could have been obtained through other means, for example: store shelves.
It is not clear what proof or evidence the agencies are looking for that orchards were sprayed and what they were sprayed with. If a property owner used a part of their land and their time to establish an orchard, they would have used the recognized product of the day for insect and disease control. They would not have consumed their land and time to grow an orchard then try to sell wormy, diseased fruit.
The conclusion by the agencies that historic orchard spraying has little effect on elevated soil arsenic needs more detail explanation. The data from Gasport seems to indicate otherwise and common sense does as well.
The 0.11 PPM reference level for arsenic appears to be in conflict with the level from the EPA Soil Cleanup Objectives document: cancer rates of 1 in 1,000,000 at .4 PPM, 1 in 100,000 at 4 PPM and 1 in 10,000 at 40 PPM. Why the difference? With the data given in the referenced EPA document, soil with a level of 20 PPM will have a risk of cancer at 5 in 100,000 and 40 PPM a risk at 10 in 100,000. Since there are less than 2000 people on all of Middleport, there is a risk of 0.1 residents having cancer at 20 PPM and 0.2 at 40 PPM over a life time. If only the air deposition area is considered with about 138 homes not getting an all clear and assuming there are 5 people per home, the rate of cancer would be expected to be 0.0345 and 0.069 people respectively. Compare these numbers with other cancer risks.
It serves no useful purpose to keep referencing the 1 in a million cancer rate target since that is not attainable. A soil arsenic level of 0.11 as referenced earlier in the Q&A's or 0.4 as referenced in the EPA Soil Cleanup Objectives are well below typical background levels in this state.
The answer given for this question uses subjective reasoning. It is true once an area is no longer used as an orchard, additional arsenic buildup in the soil will not occur. However what was built up during orchard use will remain there even if the area is converted to other uses. This answer also has the same problems as the answer for Topic 10. Orchard growers were not usually known for or successful in selling wormy, diseased fruit.
For the agencies to state it is doubtful a carcinogenic risk decision point less than 1 x 10-6 would be applied to this project without a change in New York State legislation seems to indicate the agencies already have there conclusions and Middleport can only look forward to mass excavation.
We are not talking about arsenic in drinking water. Furthermore arsenic in air is not one of the major exposure pathways referred to in the residential yards in Middleport. The main pathway is ingestion, mainly for children playing in soil. It is not clear how this is any different than the examples given for voluntary exposures to cancer risks. Parents have ways to limit their children from playing in contaminated soil.
The conclusion for the various RFI's may not be affected by expanding the project to adjacent properties but this expansion does include areas within the region and therefore extends the project and keeps it going. This goes to the stigma referred to previously. This stigma will remain as long as the agencies are here and the talk of arsenic remediation continues
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Answers to Senator Maziarz's questions which were provided by the agencies for the seminar held October, 2007, in the fire hall can be viewed by clicking here .
To view FMC comments for these answers, click here .
To view questions based on the agencies latest answers discussed during the June CIG meeting click Read Full Article below.