2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: christine <c_ziebold@yahoo.com>
Date: 3 Jul 2003 18:42:27 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Digest for cpeo-military@igc.topica.com, issue 809

I am glad you RAB works great. To me your  view of RABs as in your
posting from 7/2 is overly idealistic; careful the ARMY might make an
advertisemnet spot with you -:). (I can=92t comment on Site-Specific
AdvisoryBoards (SSABs), and Community Advisory Groups.) In my
experience the RAB is not a bold experiment in direct democracy. In my
experience a RAB does not give the people most affected by the
contamination an opportunity to understand leave alone shape the
investigation, or remediation, and forget about long-term stewardship.
It would be worth doing a survey of RAB=92s to check out how many people
would agree with you.
_From my talking with other RAB members despite enormous local
differences in culture and civility, there is an air of exasperation
about the =93bold experiment=94.

RAB meetings are an exercise in patience, drowning us in acronyms and
technical debates, master pieces of ommitting facts, not mentioning
certain things and manipulating one=92s attention. I have come to find it
really a kind of brainwash, where if I don=92t interrupt every 15 min for
clarification of acronyms or thought processes, I am =93shut up=94. Rarely
have I seen a real discussion happen. When we have disagreed with a
clean up solution we had to submit in writing, even though somebody
takes minutes. Direct democracy or direct bureaucracy? Because of our
last disagreement with the Army which slowed the process down by asking
the clean up firm to compare all options in a table including cost
estimate, they just went ahead with the next project presenting us
their one option fait-accomplis!  In my experience mentioning the
contaminants or even  reviewing toxicology to the lay members is
completely avoided; likewise the word "health" is never ever heard or

I joined the RAB of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP)
mainly because I suspected there was DU contamination by Allianttech,
which had produced 16 million rounds of the A10 tank shells there.
However there was no public information available on this issue. It
took me a while to understand that DU was never a topic at the RAB
meetings ( and hence nobody except the Army even knew about it,
including EPA and PCA!) The production site even though part of the
CERCLA site, had no ROD for DU because " no release into the
environment had occurred" acc to EPA. How did they know? I asked.
Silence. I said that a clean up company found DU in 2300 ppm in the
sumpdrain- info on the web. Didn=92t phase the EPA guy. The Army wouldn=92t=

help either. Lipservice yes, of course. The present commander had been
a health physicist doing radiation surveys and should know all the
details but  I received no documents, no hint, no nothing.  Both EPA
and Army said you need to ask NRC. Little did I know. I proceeded to
ask NRC to fork out any environmental radiation surveys they had, have
been for the past 9 month- no success. I call this =93administrative
sequestration=94 and it removes things DU from public oversight. In the
end the RAB did sign a letter to NRC requesting the final close out
radiation survey on ONE radioactively contaminated building...and the
NRC called 2 weeks later to send the report=85in 30 days, we=92ll see.=20

In Concord, STARMET, our DU delivery machine, kept their waste in an
unlined holding basin and DU is now in their groundwater. Guess when
they were NPL listed because nobody thought "release into the
environment had occurred": late 2001.=20
Sylvia Zissman, with Military Toxics Project in NJ told me she learned
of widespread clean-up of lead at Picatinny Arsenal, but never any
mention of the definite DU contamination by the RAB. It appears that it
is a similar problem.

I really would like to see a show of hands where DU is actually part of
the superfund clean up around the country.
The bold experiment of direct democracy in action=85

Have I had any luck as a member of a RAB getting the community
interested in the clean-up of DU?
The answer is a resounding no. I haven=92t even had luck in convincing
other RAB members! Our local peace group had 2 large actions in spring,
the last on International DU day, with press coverage, in front of the
headquarters of
ALLianttech, the DU producer in Hopkins, MN. However that=92s not the
affected community, 30 miles away from the superfundsite. The =93affected
community consists of middle to upper class residents worried about
their real esttse values. A collegue of mine recently moved right east
of TCAAP. She like every adult I talked to at her housewarming had no
clue. I didn=92t press the issue because its such a grave message when
you talk about superfund- people don=92t want to hear it- and it makes
you the party pooper. I think that there=92s a huge disconnect between
peacenicks and affected community.
Can this be changed? It must be. I admit it's awfully hard to keep
people perked and irked  about a 60 year old problem, thats been part
of their landscape, especially when everything looks green and peaceful
and no health statistics are causing alarm, (because they are the wrong
measuring instruments). And mere disgust lasts only so long, and anger
is unappreciated...=20

In summary in my experience the RAB is a source of current
technical info, but with very little if any "power", otherwise the ARmy
wouldn=92t have them --the info is to be utilised in political activism,
massaging my senator, Betty Mc Collum, my Rep Martin Sabo, feeding
protest groups, ie elsewhere.

Because the RAB experience has been so dismal I am just finishing a 10
page petition to the ATSDR for another public health assessment- there
has been none for 9 years. Maybe it's pulling the breaks a bit for our
EPA and PCA rolling full steam with the Army to early land transfer.
ATSDR farms the job out to our dept of health, where we definitely have
allies. Plus ATSDR has changed a bit to the better over the past years
and there is hope. We must try every avenue.

Christine Ziebold MD PhD
3232 Bryant Ave S=20
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 872 8828

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