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E-M:/ News Herald -- BASF toxic leaks -- Contradictions Abound



http://www.thenewsherald.com/news/N01IKG1.asp?ID=184

The News-Herald
A Heritage Newspaper 
Contradictions abound over contaminated dump 
By Kristi Gutowski and Paula Evans Neuman, Heritage Newspapers

RIVERVIEW — BASF Corp. officials say they told the city of problems at an
old chemical dump next to a public boat launch.

City officials say, however, that they were not properly informed 
by the company or by the state about chemicals leaking at 
BASF’s property.

The 30-acre site just south of Pennsylvania Road near the Grosse Ile Toll
Bridge is an old chemical dump that  was capped with clay in 
the mid-1980s.

"BASF has communicated the status of the Riverview property to all
appropriate authorities at every level of government," Ed 
Nuernberg, general manager of BASF’s Wyandotte site, said Monday.

Letters from BASF to City Manager James Feudner were sent in 
July 1999 and July 2000. 

It was up to Feudner to inform the mayor and other city 
officials of the situation, said Randy Hicks, BASF’s 
communications manager.

The 1999 letter calls the work at the site "an environmental 
assessment" of the property being done "in                           
cooperation" with the Michigan Department of Environmental 
Quality. It never refers to any chemical leaks.

The 2000 letter talks about the installation of monitoring wells.

"We will conduct a series of hydraulic conductivity tests and 
gather groundwater samples for chemical analyses," Thomas 
McGourty, BASF’s manager for safety, health and the 
environment, says in the letter. "These activities are 
quiet and should not raise questions from the public."

The letter also says that BASF would prepare a report for 
the DEQ.

"That report will present the results of the investigation 
and describe feasible remedial alternatives for ensuring
contaminated groundwater is not leaving the site and 
entering the Trenton Channel or migrating onto our                   
neighbor’s property," the letter says.

Yesterday morning, Riverview Mayor Tim Durand said: "We 
were kept informed of the testing; however, we were 
not advised of what the testing was about.

"Sorry to say, we assumed it was normal testing, because 
nothing in this correspondence would have led us to                 
believe anything else."

The letters from BASF to the city never mention specific 
chemicals at the site and don’t present the situation as a
serious problem, Hicks said.

"We don’t think it is that serious," Hicks said.

Durand said he spoke with both BASF and DEQ officials after 
he learned of the situation from a Heritage Newspapers 
story two weeks ago.

He added that city officials should have been better informed 
by one or more of the parties involved.

"I’m disappointed that MDEQ didn’t tell us," Durand said. 
"BASF indicated to us that they have not confirmed any 
significant leaching into the river, but they acknowledge 
problems with the surface."

BASF officials say they don’t believe the leaking chemicals, 
which include mercury, dioxin and PCBs well above legally 
allowable levels, are reaching the Detroit River’s Trenton Channel.

State environmental experts disagree.

"To date, BASF has not ceased or slowed the discharge of 
contaminated groundwater above (allowable) criteria into 
the Trenton Channel," writes Al Howard, chief of the DEQ’s 
Environmental Response Division, in a letter dated Monday.

In 1999, in a letter to BASF, the agency stressed the need for
"immediate" response to the leaking chemicals, which 
"constitute a substantial risk to the environment."

Nuernberg said the company won’t use "haphazard environmental 
remedies" to correct the situation at the property, which 
BASF purchased along with Wyandotte Chemicals Co. in 1969 — 
long after the chemicals were dumped there.

"For BASF to pursue a remedy just for the sake of a quick 
fix serves no one’s interest," Nuernberg said. "We will
not be goaded into such an irresponsible approach."

He said BASF officials discovered the leak in 1998, 
reported it to the state and have been cooperating with 
the DEQ ever since.

Howard said, however, in Monday’s letter that "interactions at 
meetings and correspondence from BASF have tended to be 
acrimonious during the last few years."

Nuernberg said the company is doing everything possible to 
correct the situation at the Riverview property.

He cited BASF’s track record of responsible environmental 
actions, which include the highly acclaimed transformation 
of Wyandotte Chemicals’ contaminated South Works site into 
a park and golf course.

On Feb. 1, BASF gave the state its "proposed remedies" and
recommendations "to install an impervious seawall that will 
prevent any possibility of groundwater under the Riverview 
property from migrating into the Detroit River," 
Nuernberg said.

Durand said both DEQ and BASF officials indicated that the 
company is now willing to do what the state has asked it to 
do, which could cost the company at least $6 million.

"They have been dealing with the site in a responsible 
way," the mayor said. "They may not have wanted to say 
the problem was more. I don’t think they believed the 
problem was as serious as MDEQ was saying."

Now that officials are in the loop, Durand said they plan 
to stay on top of the situation at the waterfront site.

"Now that this has been identified as a potentially 
serious problem, we hope they’re going to move expeditiously 
to protect the residents and the environment," he said. 

The News-Herald, A Heritage Newspapers Weekly Publication
http://www.thenewsherald.com
feedback@thenewsherald.com
Please visit the Contact Us area for additional contact information.
© Copyright 2001 Heritage Media Network.
Title: The News-Herald

 

RIVERVIEW — BASF Corp. officials say they told the city of problems at an old chemical dump next to a public boat launch.

City officials say, however, that they were not properly informed by the company or by the state about chemicals leaking at BASF’s property.

The 30-acre site just south of Pennsylvania Road near the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge is an old chemical dump that was capped with clay in the mid-1980s.

"BASF has communicated the status of the Riverview property to all appropriate authorities at every level of government," Ed Nuernberg, general manager of BASF’s Wyandotte site, said Monday.

Letters from BASF to City Manager James Feudner were sent in July 1999 and July 2000.

It was up to Feudner to inform the mayor and other city officials of the situation, said Randy Hicks, BASF’s communications manager.

The 1999 letter calls the work at the site "an environmental assessment" of the property being done "in cooperation" with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. It never refers to any chemical leaks.

The 2000 letter talks about the installation of monitoring wells.

"We will conduct a series of hydraulic conductivity tests and gather groundwater samples for chemical analyses," Thomas McGourty, BASF’s manager for safety, health and the environment, says in the letter. "These activities are quiet and should not raise questions from the public."

The letter also says that BASF would prepare a report for the DEQ.

"That report will present the results of the investigation and describe feasible remedial alternatives for ensuring contaminated groundwater is not leaving the site and entering the Trenton Channel or migrating onto our neighbor’s property," the letter says.

Yesterday morning, Riverview Mayor Tim Durand said: "We were kept informed of the testing; however, we were not advised of what the testing was about.

"Sorry to say, we assumed it was normal testing, because nothing in this correspondence would have led us to believe anything else."

The letters from BASF to the city never mention specific chemicals at the site and don’t present the situation as a serious problem, Hicks said.

"We don’t think it is that serious," Hicks said.

Durand said he spoke with both BASF and DEQ officials after he learned of the situation from a Heritage Newspapers story two weeks ago.

He added that city officials should have been better informed by one or more of the parties involved.

"I’m disappointed that MDEQ didn’t tell us," Durand said. "BASF indicated to us that they have not confirmed any significant leaching into the river, but they acknowledge problems with the surface."

BASF officials say they don’t believe the leaking chemicals, which include mercury, dioxin and PCBs well above legally allowable levels, are reaching the Detroit River’s Trenton Channel.

State environmental experts disagree.

"To date, BASF has not ceased or slowed the discharge of contaminated groundwater above (allowable) criteria into the Trenton Channel," writes Al Howard, chief of the DEQ’s Environmental Response Division, in a letter dated Monday.

In 1999, in a letter to BASF, the agency stressed the need for "immediate" response to the leaking chemicals, which "constitute a substantial risk to the environment."

Nuernberg said the company won’t use "haphazard environmental remedies" to correct the situation at the property, which BASF purchased along with Wyandotte Chemicals Co. in 1969 — long after the chemicals were dumped there.

"For BASF to pursue a remedy just for the sake of a quick fix serves no one’s interest," Nuernberg said. "We will not be goaded into such an irresponsible approach."

He said BASF officials discovered the leak in 1998, reported it to the state and have been cooperating with the DEQ ever since.

Howard said, however, in Monday’s letter that "interactions at meetings and correspondence from BASF have tended to be acrimonious during the last few years."

Nuernberg said the company is doing everything possible to correct the situation at the Riverview property.

He cited BASF’s track record of responsible environmental actions, which include the highly acclaimed transformation of Wyandotte Chemicals’ contaminated South Works site into a park and golf course.

On Feb. 1, BASF gave the state its "proposed remedies" and recommendations "to install an impervious seawall that will prevent any possibility of groundwater under the Riverview property from migrating into the Detroit River," Nuernberg said.

Durand said both DEQ and BASF officials indicated that the company is now willing to do what the state has asked it to do, which could cost the company at least $6 million.

"They have been dealing with the site in a responsible way," the mayor said. "They may not have wanted to say the problem was more. I don’t think they believed the problem was as serious as MDEQ was saying."

Now that officials are in the loop, Durand said they plan to stay on top of the situation at the waterfront site.

"Now that this has been identified as a potentially serious problem, we hope they’re going to move expeditiously to protect the residents and the environment," he said.

 

The News-Herald, A Heritage Newspapers Weekly Publication
http://www.thenewsherald.com

feedback@thenewsherald.com
Please visit the Contact Us area for additional contact information.
© Copyright 2001 Heritage Media Network.