[CPEO-BIF] State of Delaware Environmental Agency Caught In Violation of EPA Re
The following article appeared in the Wilmington, Delaware’s “Wilmington
News Journal” (www.delawareonline.com) on 7/23/03. The impact of the
article on Brownfields development, PRP relationships, and community trust is
likely to be negative. The perception of the State of Delaware’s
environmental regulation agency will be that it doesn’t believe in
following its own rules and that the Federal government must police the State
of Delaware to make
sure it doesn’t jeopardize its citizens’ public health or the natural
its lax enforcement of EPA regulations. It will be very instructive to see how
the State’s Executive Office and the Delaware Department of Natural
Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) behaves in the face of being caught
in violation of EPA regulations and the State’s Hazardous Substance
DNREC has been accepting “risk” based” clean
up standards from its VCP participants. It’s more than interesting to
note that DNREC Secretary Hughes insists DNREC’s waste site will be “cleaned
to the highest standards.”What
does that mean, that they’re going to clean a 9.7 acre field to “health”
This apprehension of DNREC comes at a time when the agency
is considering letting the Dupont Company open a sulfuric acid plant on the
Motiva site even though the DelawareCity area is
filled with chemical company wastes and was the location of a disastrous acid spill.
Green Delaware, who opposes the Dupont permit, has an email discussion of the
last public hearing posted on CPEO dated 7/22/03.
If DNREC cleans it rural site to health based standards,
what will the people living in the urban residential areas of Wilmington have a
right to expect regarding the clean up standards for the arsenic laden tannery waste
sites near (http://www.tetratech-de.com/tanneries/activity.asp) their homes or
in parks where their children play, e.g., Christian, Joe White, and Kruse parks.
Should they continue to accept the “you have to eat an aspirin size piece
of arsenic contaminated soil for 20 years” standard argument that is used
to support “risk” based clean ups in their neighborhoods or should
they demand that sites be “cleaned to the highest standards?”
EPA unearths toxins at DNREC site Investigators arrived
By MOLLY MURRAY AND PATRICK JACKSON Staff
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unearthed as many as 17 five-gallon
containers filled with a toxic wood preservative Tuesday in a search of
property near Lewes owned by the state Department of Natural Resources and
Environmental Control, DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes said Tuesday.
discovery followed a day of searching and digging on the 9.7-acre site off of Pilottown
Road that serves as the headquarters
for DNREC's Division of Soil and Water Conservation. EPA investigators arrived
unannounced at with a
warrant authorizing a search for hazardous waste that the federal agency
suspected was buried on the property.
Boyle, an EPA spokesman, said agents were investigating a pollution report and
collecting samples for laboratory analysis. He declined further comment.
said the wood preservative discovered on land the state has owned since 1995
was the chemical pentachlorophenol, which was banned by the EPA in 1987. The
chemical can cause nerve damage and also harm the kidneys and liver. It also is
a suspected carcinogen.
said DNREC had a supply of the chemical, but disposed of it years ago by
shipping it to a disposal company in Canada. He said
he had no knowledge of hazardous materials being buried at the Lewes-area site,
but thinks they must have been buried after DNREC bought the land. Hughes led
the conservation division for more than a decade before he was named state
environmental secretary last year.
said he would let the EPA finish its investigation. Any employees responsible
for the illegal burial of the chemical would face disciplinary action from DNREC.
an environmental agency, this is a grave offense," Hughes said. "I
want to assure our neighbors that we will not allow this, that we will proceed
to clean this up to the highest standards."
site is located along the BroadkillRiver just
west of Roosevelt Inlet. It was used as a clam-processing plant by Doxsee Food
Corp. until the factory closed in 1986. It later was used by a company that was
working to develop a better system of desalinating sea water. The state
acquired the property in August 1995 for $500,000.
Kimbro, a spokeswoman for DNREC, said the state used the land primarily as a
base for the division's beach preservation and dredging operations. The site
has several warehouses and a small office building, and 21 DNREC employees are
based there, she said.
recent years, the state also has used a small corner of the property for a
composting operation for the thick algae called sea lettuce harvested from
Rehoboth and Indian River bays,
agents conducting the Tuesday search were from the EPA's Philadelphia and New
York offices. Agents removed boxes of
documents from the DNREC office and used a backhoe to dig at the western corner
of the property where the chemicals were found.
Gary Simpson, R- Milford, said he was surprised by the investigation.
one called me about it, which I find a little bit surprising. I can't imagine
the state, especially the Department of Natural Resources, doing something that
would violate environmental laws."
George H. Bunting Jr., D-BethanyBeach, said he
was puzzled by the find.
not like this is XYZ Corp. that might learn disposing of something would cost
$200,000 and bury it instead," Bunting said. "The state doesn't work
that way. We pay the money needed to dispose of things properly."
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