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E-M:/ News-Herald - BASF Response to Controversy



http://www.thenewsherald.com/editorial/N04ENQ2.asp?ID=127
(url good through 3-6-2001)
Wednesday, February 28, 2001
The News-Herald

Letters to the Editor 

To the Editor: Recent news items and an editorial in the 
News Herald and Heritage Sunday deserve a more detailed 
discussion to correct misstatements and allow better public understanding
of environmental issues surrounding BASF 
Corp.’s Riverview property.

First, BASF has always acknowledged its responsibility to address and
contain contaminants at the Riverview
site. No one needs to exert pressure on us to do so.

We have been actively and willingly engaged with state authorities
responsible for overseeing Riverview’s
remediation and we will continue that engagement.

Second, BASF will not implement ad hoc or haphazard environmental
remedies merely at the suggestion of
groups or individuals who are not involved in the technical evaluations
and who bear no responsibility for the outcome.

For BASF to pursue a remedy just for the sake of a quick fix serves no
one’s interest.

This approach is not only required by state law, it is the most practical
and effective method.

To do otherwise would risk upsetting the known hydrogeologic data and
contaminant profile, and replacing it with
a series of unknown and unpredictable variables.

Further, the assertion that we should pump empty static wells at this
time without the proposed protective seawall
will provide minimal protection to the river and could potentially make
the problem worse.

We will not be goaded into such an irresponsible approach.

Third, BASF hopes to move forward with a remediation plan as quickly as
possible.

We have spent more than $2.5 million to cap the site, install appropriate
drainage and establish a solid
environmental database that describes site condition — $1 million in the
last two years.

We have proposed to spend $6 million more to carry out the remediation
plan. 

Fourth, until such a plan is approved, state regulators agree that the
site poses no imminent danger to public health
and safety.

Finally, BASF has communicated the status of the Riverview property to
all appropriate authorities at every level
of government. Any suggestions to the contrary are baseless.

As general manager for BASF’s Wyandotte site, I am responsible for the
Riverview site that BASF inherited
when it purchased the Wyandotte Chemicals Co. in 1969.

Let me personally assure everyone that the actual condition of this
property does not even remotely reflect how it
has been portrayed by certain groups. Their leaders have never contacted
BASF to discuss their concerns or
suggested remedies.

Use of the Riverview site as a disposal facility long pre-dates BASF
Corp.’s ownership. Wyandotte Chemicals
Co. purchased the property from the former Firestone Steel Co. in 1951.

BASF bought Wyandotte Chemicals in 1969. Since BASF had no need for this
property, it was sold to Federal
Marine Terminal for the construction of a terminal facility.

During the excavation, Federal Marine found buried industrial wastes, and
BASF subsequently repurchased theland.

In 1984, BASF signed a consent decree with both the state of Michigan and
the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to ensure that contaminants on the property are prevented from
entering the Detroit River.

The approved plan required BASF to install a 24-inch thick impervious
clay cap on the sections of the property   where the contaminants 
were located.

This was done to prevent rainwater and snow melt from soaking into the
soil, entering the groundwater and thus causing the groundwater 
to move toward the river.

Essentially we made a "sandwich" — natural clay on the bottom, the
contaminated soil in the middle and clay
placed on the top. Another part of the consent decree prescribed
monitoring and testing.

We have monitored and tested the groundwater continuously over the past
16 years, and reported our findings regularly to the state of Michigan.

In the fall of 1998, we identified and reported to the state of Michigan
that we found a small area of dead grass
next to the clay cap.

Immediate actions were taken by BASF to capture and remove the surface
water from the site and enlarge the
amount of property under the cap to prevent contamination of the surface.

As a result of our disclosure, the state requested and BASF agreed to
develop a plan to prevent any groundwater
from migrating into the Detroit River.

We hired one of the major engineering consulting firms that specializes
in environmental concerns to analyze the
situation and develop remedies.

On Feb. 1, 2001, BASF presented to the state its proposed remedies and a
recommendation to install an impervious seawall that will prevent any
possibility of groundwater under the Riverview property from migrating
into the Detroit River.

With BASF working with the consultant, it took almost a year to sample,
test, calculate, and develop the
recommended solutions. In all fairness, the state has only had the
consultant’s report for three weeks. So, it is too
soon to expect their findings. 

BASF is committed to working with the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality and EPA to bring the
agreed-upon remedy to conclusion as soon as possible.

BASF is doing everything it can to examine, solve and implement a
solution to this situation as soon as possible. I
must admit that I am sensitive to any assertion to the contrary.

I strongly feel our track record and ongoing commitments in the community
demonstrate that we care and that we meet all our responsibilities.

With the cooperation of the MDEQ and the city of Wyandotte, we cleaned up
Wyandotte Chemicals’ old South Works, and turned it into 
a park and a golf course.

We continuously support environmental and conservation groups through
donations of funds and property. Also, for the last 14 years we have been
planting trees and grass and completed a habitat restoration project on a
large portion of Fighting Island.

Our record speaks for itself and we expect to fulfill our 
obligations at Riverview in the same fashion. 
                                                                       
Ed Nuernberg

General manager, Wyandotte site
BASF Corp.
The News-Herald, A Heritage Newspapers Weekly Publication
http://www.thenewsherald.com
Title: The News-Herald - Opinions

To the Editor: Recent news items and an editorial in the News Herald and Heritage Sunday deserve a more detailed discussion to correct misstatements and allow better public understanding of environmental issues surrounding BASF Corp.’s Riverview property.

First, BASF has always acknowledged its responsibility to address and contain contaminants at the Riverview site. No one needs to exert pressure on us to do so.

We have been actively and willingly engaged with state authorities responsible for overseeing Riverview’s remediation and we will continue that engagement.

Second, BASF will not implement ad hoc or haphazard environmental remedies merely at the suggestion of groups or individuals who are not involved in the technical evaluations and who bear no responsibility for the outcome.

For BASF to pursue a remedy just for the sake of a quick fix serves no one’s interest.

This approach is not only required by state law, it is the most practical and effective method.

To do otherwise would risk upsetting the known hydrogeologic data and contaminant profile, and replacing it with a series of unknown and unpredictable variables.

Further, the assertion that we should pump empty static wells at this time without the proposed protective seawall will provide minimal protection to the river and could potentially make the problem worse.

We will not be goaded into such an irresponsible approach.

Third, BASF hopes to move forward with a remediation plan as quickly as possible.

We have spent more than $2.5 million to cap the site, install appropriate drainage and establish a solid environmental database that describes site condition — $1 million in the last two years.

We have proposed to spend $6 million more to carry out the remediation plan.

Fourth, until such a plan is approved, state regulators agree that the site poses no imminent danger to public health and safety.

Finally, BASF has communicated the status of the Riverview property to all appropriate authorities at every level of government. Any suggestions to the contrary are baseless.

As general manager for BASF’s Wyandotte site, I am responsible for the Riverview site that BASF inherited when it purchased the Wyandotte Chemicals Co. in 1969.

Let me personally assure everyone that the actual condition of this property does not even remotely reflect how it has been portrayed by certain groups. Their leaders have never contacted BASF to discuss their concerns or suggested remedies.

Use of the Riverview site as a disposal facility long pre-dates BASF Corp.’s ownership. Wyandotte Chemicals Co. purchased the property from the former Firestone Steel Co. in 1951.

BASF bought Wyandotte Chemicals in 1969. Since BASF had no need for this property, it was sold to Federal Marine Terminal for the construction of a terminal facility.

During the excavation, Federal Marine found buried industrial wastes, and BASF subsequently repurchased the land.

In 1984, BASF signed a consent decree with both the state of Michigan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that contaminants on the property are prevented from entering the Detroit River.

The approved plan required BASF to install a 24-inch thick impervious clay cap on the sections of the property where the contaminants were located.

This was done to prevent rainwater and snow melt from soaking into the soil, entering the groundwater and thus causing the groundwater to move toward the river.

Essentially we made a "sandwich" — natural clay on the bottom, the contaminated soil in the middle and clay placed on the top. Another part of the consent decree prescribed monitoring and testing.

We have monitored and tested the groundwater continuously over the past 16 years, and reported our findings regularly to the state of Michigan.

In the fall of 1998, we identified and reported to the state of Michigan that we found a small area of dead grass next to the clay cap.

Immediate actions were taken by BASF to capture and remove the surface water from the site and enlarge the amount of property under the cap to prevent contamination of the surface.

As a result of our disclosure, the state requested and BASF agreed to develop a plan to prevent any groundwater from migrating into the Detroit River.

We hired one of the major engineering consulting firms that specializes in environmental concerns to analyze the situation and develop remedies.

On Feb. 1, 2001, BASF presented to the state its proposed remedies and a recommendation to install an impervious seawall that will prevent any possibility of groundwater under the Riverview property from migrating into the Detroit River.

With BASF working with the consultant, it took almost a year to sample, test, calculate, and develop the recommended solutions. In all fairness, the state has only had the consultant’s report for three weeks. So, it is too soon to expect their findings.

BASF is committed to working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and EPA to bring the agreed-upon remedy to conclusion as soon as possible.

BASF is doing everything it can to examine, solve and implement a solution to this situation as soon as possible. I must admit that I am sensitive to any assertion to the contrary.

I strongly feel our track record and ongoing commitments in the community demonstrate that we care and that we meet all our responsibilities.

With the cooperation of the MDEQ and the city of Wyandotte, we cleaned up Wyandotte Chemicals’ old South Works, and turned it into a park and a golf course.

We continuously support environmental and conservation groups through donations of funds and property. Also, for the last 14 years we have been planting trees and grass and completed a habitat restoration project on a large portion of Fighting Island.

Our record speaks for itself and we expect to fulfill our obligations at Riverview in the same fashion.

Ed Nuernberg

General manager, Wyandotte site

BASF Corp.

 

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http://www.thenewsherald.com

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