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PASS THE PLUTONIUM, PLEASE?


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Date: Mon, 07 Dec 1998 01:14:57 -0700
From: Adrienne Anderson andersa@spot.Colorado.EDU
Subject: PASS THE PLUTONIUM, PLEASE?

PLEASE POST

Dear Friends:

Last week, you received preliminary information about the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District's proposed permit to allow Waste Management, Inc./City and County of Denver to discharge plutonium and other deadly wastes from the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site in Colorado into the metro Denver area sewer system, with the resulting sludge to be spread on farmland (bought by Metro Wastewater with public funds) in Eastern Colorado in the small rural town of Deer Trail.

Again, the plan involves the release of numerous radionuclides, including plutonium, americium, strontium-90, uranium, radium, and a host of others, in solution with scores of volatile organic toxins, toxic metals, PCB's dioxins, etc. While Metro now proposes to release PLUTONIUM at up to 24 piC/L (more than 150 X higher than Colorado's already absurd drinking water level of .15), as well as similarly high levels of radionuclides (see attached file; I hope it is readable). EPA has attempted to deny that plutonium is even there, despite extensive evidence from their own files that it is. Rocky Flats dumped there, records show, and an eyewitness law enforcement officer reported, as well as several other area AEC contractors.

Our citizens' investigation of this evolving, outrageous plan to dump hazardous and radioactive waste onto public lands as "fertilizer", spans now over two years of research, culled largely, though not exclusively from public records, using the Freedom of Information Act. yet over 8,000 records on the Lowry Landfill site alone are being withheld as "confidential" by EPA from a FOIA request I made over a year ago. Nonetheless, available records strongly support our conclusion that EPA and its liable parties at this Superfund site are using a growing loophole (now large enough to drive a nuclear TRU-PAK truck through), in order to transfer financial liability for these deadly wastes from the dumpers and the government (DOE/DOD, etc.) , and back onto the public as taxpayers, with the public health liability foisted onto us as consumers of commercial food products. That loophole, as many of you know, is Section 503 of the Clean Water act, which in 1992-93 essentially detoxified hazardous sewage sludge into "beneficial biosolids."

Metro Wastewater and EPA claims the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site waste will be "pre-treated" before it is piped into the sewers at the Lowry Landfill, yet the on-site "treatment" plant has no capability or design for handling - or removing - radionuclides or heavy metals, or many of the other deadly compounds planned to be released. Metro Wasterwater and EPA claim that then it will receive further "treatment" at Metro Wastewater. As a former Metro Wasterwater Board member, appointed to represent the sewage plant workers, I (and they, represented by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers' Union) can tell you that there is absolutely NO treatment mechanism in place at this POTW to remove radionuclides, metals, dioxins, PCBs and other persistent compounds of the sort present in huge quantities at the Lowry Landfill. They will end up, largely, in the SLUDGE, (aka "beneficial biosolids", if you use the industry's preferred lingo). The sludge will be trucked 60 miles east to Metro's "farm" at Deer Trail, purchased a few years ago for this purpose. Some of it is also bagged as "MetroGro" for commercial sale to home gardeners and such; in fact as a Metro board member, I was entitled to a ton of the stuff (which already had agreed to accept wastes from 3 other Denver-area Superfund sites and which a federal judge had ruled in 1996 as containing hazardous wastes for the contents of the sewage sludge dumped at Lowry up until 1980). Thanks, but no thanks.

EPA's PR person for the Lowry Landfill site, Diana Hammer, has had her hands full trying to help EPA's higher-ups keep their story straight while trying to keep a straight face herself, in the face of our public disclosures of "smoking gun" evidence from EPA's own files, and growing allegations of EPA fraud, lies, malfeasance, failure to enforce the laws, conflicts of interest, and possible criminal acts, all purportedly under investigation by the USEPA's Office of Inspector General, at our request.

Many citizens have requested that Metro Wastewater hold a public hearing on this critical issue, which they have, to date, refused to agree to do. We are requesting that citizens via e-mail urge metro and EPA to do this, given the nature of the permit, and public concern.

For those who want to comment on this proposed permit, please e-mail your comments by December 14th to:

Theresa Pfeifer, Metro Wastewater can be reached via email through SPearlman@mwrd.dst.co.us

(or by mail, postmarked by December 14th, to:

Theresa Pfeifer, MWRD,
6450 York Street,
Denver, Colorado 80229.

with copies to:

Max Dodson, USEPA Region VIII, DODSON.MAX@epamail.epa.gov
Carol Browner, USEPA Administrator BROWNER.CAROL@epamail.gov

Also send a copy to any Senators, Representatives in your area who would support EPA requiring Metro Wastewater to hold a public hearing on this important national issue of allowing Superfund wastes -- including nuclear weapons wastes -- to be redistributed to farms growing crops for human comsumption in the United States. My "Advanced Environmental Investigations" students at C.U. Boulder opted to conduct an investigation into this emergent practice as a Report to Congress, in order to spawn Congressional hearings on the abuse of this ever-widening loophole.

The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News have looked the other way on this story, to date; both also dumped poisonous wastes at the Lowry Landfill themselves. You may want to e-mail your comments as "letters to the editors", at addresses available on their websites, and urge them to cover this issue in their own backyards.

Finally, please forward to me via e-mail a copy of your comments, should you wish us to use them in showing the range of public support, comments received, etc.

For background on this scandal, check out stories in the Christian Science Monitor, CNN's "MoneyLine", the Boulder Weekly and Boulder Planet. Search using keywords "sludge", "plutonium".

Boulder Weekly, "Miracle Glo: Coming Soon to a Food Chain Near You" and follow-up coverage:

5/22/97 - "Miracle Glo - Coming to a Food Chain Near You ..by Greg Campbell
5/22/97 - "History of Contamination" by Greg Campbell
6/19/97 - "A Battle to the Death of Sludge - Lowry Landfill looms with radiation" by Greg Campbell
6/26/97 - "Liars at the Helm ... EPA gets into deep sludge" by Greg Campbell
7/10/97 - "The Sludge hits the Fan ... More dirt on Toxic Topsoil" by Greg Campbell
11/10/97 - "Class Action" by Greg Campbell
11/13/97 - "Misinterpreting data the EPA way -- CU Students take Lowry landfill officials to pollution school" by Greg Campbell
2/26/98 - "EPA's Lowry Case Unravelling -- Official Line Frays in Toxic Sludge Fiasco" by Greg Campbell
5/7/98 - "Money doesn't grow on trees .... CU Environmental studies students go for the green" by Richard Fleming
6/10/98 - Christian Science Monitor: "A Trooper, A Dump and a Tale of Doubt"

Thanks for reviewing this matter of urgent importance to public and occupational health, safe communities and a safe food supply.

Adrienne Anderson Instructor Environmental Studies
University of Colorado at Boulder CB 339,
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0339
(303)492-4555 (message)
andersa@spot.Colorado.EDU

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