26. July. 2010
United States Senate
Re: Uniontown IEL Superfund Site
Dear Senator Brown,
Thank you for your leadership in speaking out and calling for the British Petroleum Corporation to be held responsible and liable for their role in the horrific ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
There is yet another disaster connected to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig - a political disaster. The British Petroleum Corporation acquired the authority in the past up to the present time to define the terms of drilling, oversight of the well, capping of the exploded well, and cleanup of the well.
This political disaster of the British Petroleum Corporation being in charge of these functions is due to political campaign investments (misnamed "contributions"), political lobbying, and influence over regulatory agencies (ie, Mineral Management Services, MMS, a part of the US Department of the Interior). The root of the problem is acquired constitutional rights that the BP Corporation and other business corporations have acquired over time.
These constitutionally granted rights have usurped the power of citizens to control their communities, nation, and natural world. The fundamental problem is not corporate power as it is corporate rule.
Your public statements to the media and your constituents concerning accountability of the British Petroleum Corporation is laudable. I hope they intensify to include issues of corporate rule or governance.
A somewhat similar environmental and political disaster exists closer to home in connection to the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) in Uniontown, Ohio. The corporate polluters here have also been put in charge of the so-called "cleanup." The regulatory agency here, the EPA, has been compliant to the wishes of the corporate polluters. A real cleanup of IEL has not take place. Those responsible and accountability for the damages, cost and liability have not been brought to justice.
In the case of the Uniontown IEL, each of the three major cleanup components - the groundwater pump & treat system (that was to operate "in perpetuity"), the multi-layered cap to prevent rainfall infiltration of the waste, the expansion of the gas interception control system - have been replaced in favor of continued flushing the site into the area's drinking water system.
Formal public hearings, legal comment periods and EPA written responsiveness summaries were conducted by US EPA per Superfund law prior to the first two components being legally removed from the EPA's amended Record of Decision (ROD). Local citizens opposed both changes to the ROD. Citizens had no input, no due process, however, prior to the ending of the gas control system. This change occurred reportedly at the behest of a corporate polluter.
Shocked and dismayed by this apparent illegality by US EPA, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT) turned to your office last year on this issue as well as the serious questions pertaining to radiation /Plutonium issues at IEL. CCLT asked your office to contact investigators and scientists who have provided critical information to the citizens group.
I was therefore very concerned to recently learn that your office had informed CCLT that EPA will not answer the Senator's questions on these basic points regarding when such a hearing/comment period/summary might have taken place on the gas issue, perhaps unbeknownst to the citizens' group.
Experts have cited at least 150 tons of toxic gases generated yearly at IEL. The Agency on Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR - an agency of the Center for Disease Control) expressed health concerns in a 1989 report connected to offsite migration of soil gases at IEL. The report stated: “Significant concentrations of soil-gas may be migrating offsite continually or periodically, but not detected by the present monitoring system…” and “An improved MVS system could intercept all significant quantities of migrating soil-gas.”
I appreciate your staff taking the time to continue pursuing the answers to these questions and others, which affected citizens, certainly deserve. Uniontown’s citizens have long since expressed many of the same concerns now being heard around the country regarding the BP Corporation and compliant regulatory agencies. Perhaps those concerns held are now better understood.
Please continue to raise concerns about the lack of accountability of the BP Corporation and the need for more assertive oversight. The same is called for in our own back yard at the Uniontown IEL and its corporate polluters.
I hope you'll agree the rights and heath of citizens are the most important priorities.
Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee