07/31/08 State refutes 1000 ppt cleanup level
Recent inside EPA article had several inaccuracies: MDEQ
In response to TRW's concerns after reading a recent Inside EPA report (see next article), the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had this to say:
"Director Chester has asked that I respond to your inquiries about the article that was read by each of you.
This article was written by John Heltman, who had identified himself to staff as a reporter from "Inside EPA". The article has several inaccuracies. The DEQ will pursue having a retraction printed and making sure the corrections are printed.
The reporter's first question was why we were using 1 ppb as the cleanup level and staff repeated several times that it was not a cleanup level, 90 ppt or 0.09 ppb is the current state residential cleanup value and explained that Dow has the option to propose a site-specific cleanup value, which would require our review and approval. The 1-ppb was never identified as a clean-up level, but as an INTERIM RESPONSE ACTIVITY (IRA) LEVEL. The IRA Level was explained to be a trigger for more immediate action, not a clean-up criterion. When asked if the final cleanup level would be lower than 1 ppb, staff indicated that we could not predict what the final cleanup level would be at this time. It would depend on the exposure pathways addressed and toxicity values used. Staff did say that without EPA's reassessment being complete, MDEQ will need to review what Dow proposes to use as part of their site-specific assessment.
When asked why we used 1 ppb instead of 0.09 ppb for IRAs, staff indicated the IRA levels were chosen to address the worst first, highest likely residential exposures as interim responses, with others to be addressed as part of the final cleanup. If you recall, in 2005, the Department required Dow to complete IRAs on properties that were frequently flooded, assuming, based on DEQ sampling, that these properties were at or near the 1 ppb level. If we tried to address everything over 90 ppt as an IRA, the number of properties would be so large that it could hold up the investigation of the rest of the river. Staff also indicated that agreeing to 1 ppb for IRAs allowed for IRAs to proceed sooner for the areas with greater exposure potential".
Department of Environmental Quality
While we appreciate MDEQ's timely response, TRW believes that if this is a State RCRA lead project, the States 90 ppt. residential contact number should be used instead of EPA's 1000 ppt., until a time that that number is proven overprotective.