2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: "Laura Olah" <cswab@merr.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 09:53:29 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] CSWAB UPDATE: EPA Questions Military's Handling of PCBs

CSWAB UPDATE: EPA Questions Military?s Handling of PCBs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants answers to dozens of
long-standing questions about the handling of PCB-contaminated wastes at
Badger Army Ammunition Plant and other U.S. Army production facilities
nationwide.  In a July 7 letter to the U.S. Army, the EPA asks for a
detailed response to questions about the status of demolition of buildings,
management and storage of PCB wastes, research on destruction or removal of
paint, and operation of decontamination ovens. 

In addition to Badger, Army facilities that the EPA has identified as having
PCB contamination include Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in Kansas, Iowa
Army Ammunition Plant, Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant in Nebraska, Kansas
Army Ammunition Plant and the Ravenna Arsenal in Ohio.  Activities at as
many as 28 closing Army ammunition production facilities with a total of
number of more than 16,000 buildings and structures could be affected.  
The EPA inquiry comes as good news to community activists who have been
challenging the military?s use of thermal treatment to decontaminate objects
that contain PCBs, lead and other toxins.

?It took 6 years of dedicated work to get this issue to the forefront,? said
Laura Olah, Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
(CSWAB). ?The EPA?s action is a critical first step in protecting nearby
families and workers from exposure to PCBs and other toxins that are being
handled and disposed of as part of base closure and realignment.?

The decontamination oven, located on the west side of Badger Army Ammunition
Plant near the Bluffview community, is an example of an uncontrolled and
unpermitted source of toxic emissions caused by the thermal treatment of
contaminated metal objects.  

Early in 2008, Badger provided state and federal regulators with test
results for paint samples taken from cross sections of plant equipment and
piping that were analyzed for both lead and PCBs.  The Army reported lead
concentrations as high as 260,000 parts per million (ppm).  By comparison,
lead paint is defined as having concentrations greater than 5,000 ppm. 
The Army also reported PCB concentrations as high as 76,000 ppm in paint
samples  Paint containing PCB concentrations greater than 50 ppm is
regulated by the EPA as ?PCB bulk product waste? and the decontamination
oven is considered a form of disposal subject to regulation if used to
decontaminate any materials with such paint. 

The oven uses heat to degrade potential explosive residues on pipes, valves,
and other equipment before it is sold as salvage.  Equipment is placed into
the oven and the temperature is raised to 450° F for several hours ? a
process that could volatilize PCBs.  Fugitive emissions are released
directly to the open air and surrounding environment as the oven has no air
emissions controls.  Testing near a former oven at Badger found elevated
levels of PCBs in surrounding soils.

The federal Toxics Substances Control Act gives EPA the authority to
regulate PCBs.  Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and
therefore may remain for long periods of time cycling between air, water,
and soil.  PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety
of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system,
nervous system, and endocrine system. 

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) was organized in 1990 when
rural families near Wisconsin?s Badger Army Ammunition Plant learned that
private drinking water wells were polluted with high levels of
cancer-causing solvents.  The group continues to serve as a local watchdog
and national leader on military cleanups.

Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
E12629 Weigand's Bay South
Merrimac, WI  53561
(608) 643-3124

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