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GLIN==> Geologist Challenges Assumptions Used In Planning Fox River PCB Cleanup

Posted on behalf of Alice McCombs <tarawins@ezwebtech.com>

> For Immediate Release
> January 16, 2002
> Geologist Challenges Assumptions Used In Planning Fox River PCB Cleanup
> Models and averages used inappropriately. Cap unwarranted.
> (Green Bay, WI)  A geologist has identified several shortcomings in the
> Wisconsin DNR's proposed PCB cleanup plan for the Fox River and Green
> Bay.  Donna Boreck was hired by the Clean Water Action Council on behalf
> a citizen coalition funded with a Superfund Technical Assistance Grant by
> the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The grant program was created
> Congress to allow local citizens to hire outside experts for a "second
> opinion" to help them review and comment on the highly technical documents
> produced by the government and the polluting industries.
> "The cleanup plan depends heavily on computer models, rather than actual
> data, particularly in the bay," concluded Boreck, a geologist with many
> years of experience with hazardous waste sites.  "Each model has
> limitations.  The farther the model is projected into the future, the more
> inaccurate it becomes.   It is not appropriate to leave the PCBs in the
> river and bay based on imprecise computer models, when we know through
> actual data that public health risks will remain high without cleanup."
> The Wisconsin DNR and U.S. EPA have proposed to leave 20 miles of the
> and the entire bay to "natural recovery" due to flawed computer model
> projections.  For example, very few sample points from Zone 2 of the Bay
> (the extreme southern end) were factored into the model, which would skew
> the model results from cleaning that area.  In addition, the agencies
> that natural recovery will occur on the bay in 100 years, when this is
> based on a computer model which stops at 100 years.  Actual recovery may
> take 200 or 500 years without cleanup.
> The agencies also place an "all or nothing" emphasis on the model
> results.  They concluded bay cleanup would not be worthwhile based on
> assumption that it could be more than 100 years before fish-advisories
> could be lifted.  This ignores the fact that a bay cleanup would greatly
> reduce risks in the meantime.
> "The plan assumes PCBs will be buried or diluted by natural processes over
> time, yet the DNR's own documents show this will not be protective in a
> reasonable time frame," added Boreck. "This is a significant
> "The river and large sections of the bay are not quiet waters.  The higher
> energy environments do not allow for efficient burial and isolation of
> PCB-bearing sediments.  Erosion of PCB deposits, storm waves, ice action,
> bioturbation (bottom wildlife activity) and human disturbance will
> to keep PCBs in active circulation and available to the foodchain for a
> long time, unless the PCBs are permanently removed."
> Boreck was critical of the plan's priorities.  "The cleanup levels seem
> focused more on minimizing costs and less on protecting human health,"
> concluded Boreck. "The method used to determine the 1 ppm PCB extraction
> level is not appropriate for a contaminant like PCB.  The DNR's consultant
> used methods similar to those used to determine the most cost-effective
> quantity of ore to extract in a mining operation, where the resulting
> health risk would not be a factor."
> Boreck also challenged the notion of capping PCB deposits in the river,
> to her concerns about erosion potential from excessive currents in the
> river, and the potential for increased currents following major storms and
> flooding.  She noted, "The proposed capping has been described as 'the
> biggest ever attempted in the U.S.'  Any time an engineering design is
> sized larger, there are new challenges and risks.  Large scale cleanup
> requires the best available proven technology, which would be dredging and
> removal of PCBs in this case."
> Boreck recommended a more stringent clean-up target of no more than .25
> PCBs in the remaining sediments.  Even with the extensive averaging used
> the plan, she found that the proposed, higher 1 ppm target level could not
> achieve the averages necessary to meet the public health protection
> objectives stated in the plan.
> Donna Boreck's full comments are posted at http://www.foxriverwatch.com/
> Boreck's resume is posted online at:
> http://www.foxriverwatch.com/boreck/boreck_cv.pdf
> For more information, contact Rebecca Katers, 920-437-7304.
> # # #
> =============================================
> For information about the Fox River & Bay PCB Clean Up visit
> www.FoxRiverWatch.com

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