It’s an ongoing work in progress. I actually built this desk, custom wrap-around, out of parts from Ikea, and added a second guitar rig, a few days ago, using a Digitech 1101 and foot pedal as a midi controller for the entire studio, so I can hit one foot switch and completely reconfigure the guitar sound, through five different guitar processors (Triaxis, Pod HD, Sans Amp PSA 1.1, and Digitech 1101), and three 4 x 12 cabinets, all miked with an AT 4050, into a DBX 676 channel strip, along with eight channels of Focusrite ISA’s.
I traveled to Moab, Utah to see the arches, but stumbled upon something else, just three miles north of town.
There is a massive pile of Uranium tailings, the byproduct of Uranium enrichment, sitting in Moab, Utah that sits right next to The Colorado River and is leaking Uranium into the river which is the drinking water source for a large portion of Southern California.
The Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) is a project, administered by the Department of Energy, to move the pile out into the middle of the high desert and bury it somewhere that the Uranium cannot spill into the drinking water supply.
The Department of Energy states that the project is 51% complete. Tailing shipments began in April, 2009, and are expected to continue through about 2032.
Because of the location of the pile there is concern that a flash flood will strike and wash even more Uranium into the river, which will make it’s way to Lake Mead, and eventually directly into a major Southern California drinking water supply. What does a flash flood look like in Moab, Utah?
I’m doing all kinds of research on this subject right now, reaching out to different officials and agencies, working to understand the real risks of this pile, and soon I’ll have a short film prepared for the people of Los Angeles, filled with information and links so they can research the issue themselves, and so that we can all work together to make sure So Cal is both aware of the issue and prepared in the event of a disaster.
The 7.5-acre former salvage yard and scrap metal facility, located at 875 Ivor Ave., Akron, is bordered by the Akron-Barberton Beltway Railroad tracks to the north; a low-lying woodland and marsh to the east; a residential area to the south; and a light industrial area to the west. The marsh to the east of the salvage yard is immediately adjacent to Lake Nesmith, a local recreation area.
Operating from the 1950s to the 1980s, Summit Equipment accepted large numbers of transformers containing PCB oils. It also stored transformers and batteries intended for scrap and reclamation. In the early 1970s, batteries were recycled while metals from electrical equipment were smelted on-site in a small furnace. Oil reclaimed from the transformers reportedly provided fuel for the furnace. These activities resulted in on-site PCB contamination of soil and off-site movement of the PCBs. These site operations also resulted in ground water contamination under the site.
In 1987, EPA conducted an emergency action to stop the PCBs from moving off-site. About 300 capacitors and 1,300 transformer carcasses were also removed to stabilize the site and protect neighbors’ health as well as the environment.
In 1991, EPA also oversaw removal and disposal of:
2,000 tons of contaminated scrap, motors, and stone
over 160 drums containing various items including furnace residue, metal grinding dust, and PCB- and mercury-contaminated soil
non-hazardous waste oil, paint residue, and batteries
over 432 cubic yards of tires
219 tons of building demolition debris
two large transformer carcasses weighing 2,500 pounds
three mercury rectifiers and eight compressed air cylinders
In 1998, the EPA finalized a long-term cleanup plan, called the record of decision, which included:
clearing unexploded ordnance
excavating all contaminated soil
backfilling and regrading the excavated areas with clean fill
transporting contaminated soil to a permitted landfill for disposal
monitoring the ground water
restricting future land and ground water use
All of these actions were completed by 2000 along with continued ground water monitoring. The 1998 cleanup plan was slightly modified in 2004 to remove unnecessary land-use restrictions.
You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s PDF page to learn more.
In 2013, EPA completed a status review of the site’s cleanup. This type of review is required at least every five years where the cleanup is complete but hazardous substances remain at levels too high to allow unrestricted use of the site. These reviews are done to ensure that the cleanup continues to protect people and the environment.
The review included:
An evaluation of background information.
Effectiveness of the cleanup and any anticipated future actions.
An analysis of ways for EPA to operate more efficiently.
Maintenance and monitoring efforts.
The review found the cleanup continues to protect people and the environment. The area remains fenced to discourage trespassing, although a fence is not required to prevent exposure to hazardous substances. Also, a natural treatment process, called monitored natural attenuation, continues to cleanse the groundwater of hazardous substances before they can move off-site.
Previously, all data for this site was publicly available. Recently with the changed in the EPA website Superfund access to necessary records has been systematically blocked. In the case of missing PDF’s, when one clicks on the links they are now greeted with this page.
Please read my external autobiographical articles on LinkedIn for more information:
Note: In San Fernando Valley there is a TCE vapor intrusion issue. Yet, in the EPA documentation there is no mention on vapor intrusion, which is the biggest concern with TCE. The following infographic was created for the MEW study – a study of vapor intrusion in Mountain View under Google’s Quad Annex building and depicts the same phenomenon that is happening in San Fernando Valley. Since 2011, one article has been published in Los Angeles on the subject matter. LA Times, LA Weekly, KTLA, have refused to report. Variety has also refused to publish paid advertising for myself and my causes.
San Fernando Valley
The San Fernando Valley Superfund Sites are located in the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley (see the map), between the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains. The San Fernando Valley is an important source of drinking water for the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the cities of Glendale, Burbank, and San Fernando, La Canada- Flintridge, and the unincorporated area of La Crescenta. There are four separate areas comprising the San Fernando Superfund Sites: (1) Burbank & North Hollywood, (2) Glendale/Crystal Springs,(3) Verdugo, and (4) Pollock/Los Angeles.
The information on this page applies to the San Fernando Valley Superfund Sites overall. For information specific to the four individual areas, click on the links above and visit the web pages for the separate areas.
History: In 1980, after finding organic chemical contamination in the groundwater of the San Gabriel Valley, the California Department of Health Services (DHS) requested all major groundwater users to conduct tests for the presence of certain industrial chemicals in the water they were serving. The results of testing revealed volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination in the groundwater beneath large areas of the San Fernando Valley. The primary contaminants of concern were the solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), widely used in variety of industries including metal plating, machinery degreasing, and dry cleaning.
TCE and PCE have been detected in a large number of production wells at levels that are above the Federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), which is 5 parts per billion (ppb) for each of these VOCs. The state of California MCL is also 5 ppb for TCE and PCE. MCLs are drinking water standards. Other VOC contaminants in the San Fernando Valley have also been detected above the Federal and/or State MCLs. As a result of the groundwater contamination, many production wells have been taken out of service. The water agencies of the San Fernando Valley closely monitor the quality of drinking water delivered to residents. The water meets all federal and state requirements and is safe to drink. Due to groundwater contamination, much of the drinking water delivered to residents is purchased from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California.
Nitrate, an inorganic contaminant, has also been detected in the groundwater in the San Fernando Valley, consistently at levels in excess of the MCL of 45 parts per million (ppm). Nitrate contamination may be the result of past agricultural practices and/or septic system or ammonia releases.
State and local agencies acted to provide alternative water supplies and to investigate and clean up potential sources. EPA and other agencies became involved in coordinating efforts to address the large-scale groundwater contamination. In 1984, EPA proposed four sites for inclusion on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL): Area 1 – Burbank & North Hollywood, Area 2 – Glendale/Crystal Springs, Area 3 – Verdugo and Area 4 – Pollock/Los Angeles. The original boundaries of the sites were based on drinking water wellfields that were known to be contaminated by VOCs in 1984. In 1986, the four sites were included on the NPL. EPA manages the four sites and adjacent areas where contamination has (or may have) migrated as one large site. EPA has pursued a more comprehensive approach for the investigation and cleanup of the contamination.
In 1987, EPA and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) signed a Cooperative Agreement providing federal funds to perform a remedial investigation (RI) of groundwater contamination in the San Fernando Valley.
EPA is currently focusing its efforts on four operable units (OUs) within two of the four San Fernando Valley Superfund sites to accelerate the investigation and cleanup of the study area. Each OU represents a discrete, interim contaminant remedy currently in progress throughout the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley. EPA has signed Records of Decision (RODs) for four OUs in the San Fernando Valley: North Hollywood OU (1987 and 2009) and Burbank OU (1989) within the Area 1 site, and Glendale North and South OUs (1993) within the Area 2 site. The North Hollywood OU Interim Remedy began operating in 1989, and the Burbank OU has been operational since 1996. The Glendale North and South OUs began partial operation in August 2000 and achieved full operation capacity in June 2002. While conducting the OU remedies, EPA has also conducted basinwide investigations which ultimately may lead to a basinwide final ROD.
Since completion of the remedial investigation for the San Fernando Valley in 1992, EPA has continued to monitor groundwater contamination through its Basinwide Monitoring Program. The monitoring Program consists of quarterly sampling of over 500 groundwater wells located throughout the eastern portion of the valley. Data generated from these sampling events are used to map the extent of TCE, PCE, and Nitrate contamination in groundwater.
Plume Maps of TCE, PCE, and Chromium
The water quality data collected through the EPA’s Water Quality Monitoring Program for over 500 wells are used to map the extent of TCE, PCE, and chromium contamination in groundwater. Click here to go to the plume maps webpage.
Groundwater Quality Monitoring Reports
Since completion of the remedial investigation for the San Fernando Valley in 1992, EPA has continued to monitor groundwater contamination through its Basinwide Monitoring Program. The monitoring program consists of quarterly sampling of over 500 groundwater wells located throughout the eastern portion of the valley.
Data generated from these sampling events are used to map the extent of TCE, PCE, and Nitrate contamination in groundwater. Groundwater Quality Monitoring reports are generated periodically depending on the sampling events to present the groundwater quality results.
The report sections and tables are available in .PDF format to view and print. The figures presented in the reports are available in .JPG and .PDF file formats.
The San Fernando Valley Basinwide Operable Unit (OU) activities consist of Basinwide Field investigations, data management and groundwater modelling. The San Fernando Valley Basinwide OU supports the other San Fernando Valley OUs in all phases of the Superfund process.
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
No Further Action (“NFA”) Letter recipients
Under a cooperative agreement between EPA and the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region (“LA-RWQCB”) conducted assessments of facilities in the San Fernando Basin to determine the extent of solvent usage and to assess past and current chemical handling, storage and disposal practices. These investigations were conducted pursuant to the LA-RWQCB’s Well Investigation Program. Many of these investigations are currently in progress. For parties whose facilities the LA-RWQCB later determined that additional investigation was not required, the LA-RWQCB sent “no further action” (NFA) letters.
Additionally, EPA and the LA-RWQCB sent joint NFA letters to parties in cases where both EPA and the LA-RWQCB determined that additional investigation was not required.
Based on information provided to EPA by the RWQCB or otherwise known to EPA and the RWQCB when the joint NFA letters were issued, the entities who received the joint NFA letters were not asked by EPA or the RWQCB to participate in regional ground-water cleanup projects for the San Fernando Basin Superfund Sites. However, EPA may re-open a site investigation or request participation in regional ground-water cleanup projects, if new information becomes available or site conditions change. Click here for the list of LA-RWQCB No Further Action letter recipients and joint EPA/LA-RWQCB No Further Action letter recipients. Parties who received a joint NFA letter are noted with a “Y” in the “Joint Letter” column on the NFA Letter list.
General Notice Letter (“GNL”) and Special Notice Letter (“SNL”) Recipients
A GNL notifies an entity that EPA has identified the entity as a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) for the purpose of Superfund response actions. Besides designating a facility or person as a PRP, the GNL is used to encourage PRP coalescence and formation of steering committees, an important step prior to negotiations with EPA for Superfund response work, both investigatory and remedial.
An SNL, in addition to designating an entity as a potentially responsible party (“PRP”), initiates a formal settlement process between EPA and the PRPs. The SNL is used to facilitate an agreement between EPA and the PRPs for the PRPs to conduct site work and to pay EPA’s oversight and other response costs. The SNL requests an offer from PRPs to perform these actions and sets a formal time period for negotiations to be completed, after which EPA may unilaterally order the PRPs to undertake the site work and to pay EPA’s oversight costs, and initiate a lawsuit to recover EPA’s other response costs.
EPA sent general notice and special notice letters to parties EPA considered potential contributors to the volatile organic compound (VOC) groundwater contamination in the Area 1 – North Hollywood, and Area 2 – Glendale/Crystal Springs San Fernando Valley NPL sites.Click here for the list of General Notice and Special Notice letter recipients.
EPA may from time-to-time identify additional potentially responsible parties based on new information, or changes in site conditions.
Please note that the March 10, 2008, San Fernando Valley Chromium Workshop Poster Session Documents can be found in the Community Involvement subsection and the San Fernando Valley Chromium Workshop Material can be found in the Technical Documents subsection of the Documents and Reports section above.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Burbank Public Library,
110 North Glen Oaks Boulevard,
Burbank, CA 91502
City of Glendale Public Library,
222 East Harvard Street,
Glendale, CA 91205
City of Los Angeles Central Library
Science and Technical Department
630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
The most complete collection of documents is the official EPA site file, maintained at the following location:
Superfund Records Center
Mail Stop SFD-7C
95 Hawthorne Street, Room 403
San Francisco, CA 94105
Enter main lobby of 75 Hawthorne street, go to 4th floor of South Wing Annex.
EPA Site Manager
Before the 1970’s The United States had no Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to the creation of The EPA if one owned a factory, they loaded up a tanker and then promptly dumped their toxic waste in their local canal or stream. If they had a lot of toxic waste they put it in barrels and then buried it. The whole thing sounds ridiculous until one reads the story of Love Canal or Valley of the Drums.
In particular, ‘Love Canal’ near Buffalo, New York was the site of one of the worst — at the time — toxic waste incidents in U.S. history:
“ In the mid-1970s Love Canal became the subject of national and international attention after it was revealed in the press that the site had formerly been used to bury 21,000 tons of toxic waste by Hooker Chemical (now Occidental Petroleum Corporation). Hooker Chemical sold the site to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953 for $1, with a deed explicitly detailing the presence of the waste, and including a liability limitation clause about the contamination. The construction efforts of housing development, combined with particularly heavy rainstorms, released the chemical waste, leading to a public health emergency and an urban planning scandal. Hooker Chemical was found to be negligent in their disposal of waste, though not reckless in the sale of the land, in what became a test case for liability clauses. The dump site was discovered and investigated by the local newspaper, the Niagara Falls Gazette, from 1976 through the evacuation in 1978. Potential health problems were first raised by reporter Michael H. Brown in July 1978.”
Long story short; The New York School system knew the land was polluted. They built a school on top of the 21,000 tons of buried toxic waste, in drums, in spite of Hooker Chemical demanding the school district not do so. Eventually, after being sued for the land, Hooker Chemical relented; The company agreed to sell the land for $1 with the recommendation that the school system not build a school on the polluted land while also attempting to assign liability for the buried toxic waste to the New York school system for any damages that would arise in the event of exposure, to the students, to hazardous chemicals.
Years later, people in, and around, the school started getting sick. Local journalists furiously uncovered, and exposed, this blatant atrocity in the form of buried poison underneath a children’s playground. The U.S. government was “shocked” that all of this had occurred. As a result of Love Canal and other incidents the U.S Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Almost a decade later, the EPA Superfund was created to clean up the worst of the worst toxic waste incidents in The U.S..
“Superfund or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) is a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances as well as broadly defined “pollutants or contaminants”. Superfund also gives authority to federal natural resource agencies, states and Indian tribes to recover natural resource damages caused by releases of hazardous substances, and created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), CERCLA’s broad cleanup authority, to clean up releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or welfare or the (natural) environment was given primarily to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states.”
For the next forty years The US EPA, seemingly, worked towards exposing, isolating, and cleaning up toxic waste sites. During those four decades they uncovered over 1,323 of these sites, to date. For perspective, if you put a hot dog stand on top of every EPA Superfund site in The United States you’d have an automatic fast food chain the size of Denny’s.
II. Correlation doesn’t equal causation
What types of chemicals are found in these sites? Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, TCE, Arsenic, Dioxin, Trichloroethylene (TCE), and PCB’s are the most common offenders. Hexavalent Chromium is the same nasty substance from the movie ‘Erin Brockovich,’ which ravaged the town of Hinkley, California, along with continually rising levels of Uranium in the ground water. All of these substances have been proven to be hazardous to human health, hence the need for the Superfund project to begin with.
When we take the map of all of the cancer deaths in The US since 1980 a very visible correlation becomes apparent.
Since the subject of EPA Superfund sites is not something that is spoken about in every day circles; since most people have no idea that these sites exist in this abundance; since general practitioners and other medical professionals don’t generally keep a running tally of EPA Superfund sites in relation to the geographical location of their patients, this phenomenon of “toxic waste in your back yard” has gone relatively unexplored in the mainstream national media, and medical communities, simply because a large percentage of people seems to be unaware that any of these events have happened, so it’s really hard to say if there is any real correlation between these sites and the cancer rate, in The U.S.
Erin Brockovich, in the capacity of doing her work as an environmental advocate, runs a reporting website which assigns a “pin” to organic reports of illness, in The United States, from members of the public who believe they have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. Erin’s infographics reveal even more of those “correlations.”
Do these bits of evidences and correlations create causation? Nope.
But they prove that everywhere there are human beings there are Superfund sites, people with cancer, and people complaining that they have been exposed to volatile organic compounds.
The EPA and it’s efforts
Over the last four generations of Americans the EPA has done a lot to work towards cleaning this country up. In spite of the constant calls for the agency’s closure, or refusals to gain support for an overhaul of the system in the 1990’s, The Environmental Protection Agency has tirelessly moved forward with the clean up efforts.
As the decades passed, however, glaring organizational idiosyncrasies have started to boil to the surface of the polluted water ways of the US EPA’s marketing efforts, in the form of internet accessible public records, most of which can be found in Google results. When one starts to investigate any given EPA Superfund site, and the ways the public education campaigns have been administered, the truth become undeniably clear: all of this happened, all of it has been published, but very few people in The US know the true scope and magnitude of the ground water and soil pollution in this country.
How to locate your local Superfund site
For most people, in The United States, it’s not too hard to find your local EPA Superfund, toxic waste dump. Simply go to Google, type in the name of your town, and then the words EPA Superfund. Hit enter. You will be immediately directed to hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation written, mostly, in language only scientists can understand.
In the often bizarre cases of government conspiracies it almost seems like people are looking for a cover up. We, as Americans, in this sad state of affairs we live in, expect our government to lie to us, to the point that even if The Fed tells the truth, no one believes them. Some people expect to find genocide, or population control, in vapor trails, and evil in 9/11 conspiracy lore, false flags in domestic terrorism incidents; Alex Jones makes millions of dollars from this these theories. In this case there is no invisible conspiracy. There is no doubt The EPA has published most of this Superfund information. No person, ever, could claim the things I am reporting on are a cover up, yet at the same time, if you travel the country like I have, speaking to Americans about the Superfund, you’ll find that most people have no clue that this multi-trillion dollar industry exists.
Each Superfund record contains an explanation of the site, in plain English, and a section which details the size of the public information campaigns they’ve undertaken to let the residents who live in proximity to toxic waste sites know of their exposure to toxic waste. Yet, if we pick an EPA Superfund site, and then process the numbers, we start to see that the figures associated with these marketing campaigns are so low as to render them completely ineffective.
One example is in Akron, Ohio, the site detailed out in my short film Poison in the Grapes. The neighborhood has roughly 1,000 houses, or apartments. The documentation for the site shows that only 300 mailers were sent out, “some to residents.” The local newspaper, Akron Beacon Journal, repeatedly, misreported on the subject matter while refusing to address the communities concerns, and still continues to do this to this very day.
Across the country in Los Angeles, in San Fernando Valley there were over 800,000 residential water customers were drinking Hexavalent Chromium directly out of their water faucets up until 1986. The public education campaign for over half a million effected people was 1,800 mailers sent to residents. Currently, there are ground water pump stations situated all over San Fernando Valley furiously trying to rid the ground water supply of TCE and Hexavalent Chromium. At last report The EPA determined that the current method of remediation being used is “not effective.
Update: The EPA has raised the allowable limits of human exposure to chromium in order to bring this an other sites into “compliance.” A year after the EPA did this they released a statement that chromium-6 is “potentially” hazardous to human health.
If one did manage to put the aforementioned hot dog stands at each one of these sites you’d be out of business in a week for a bitter lack of advertising. I was nothing but shocked to learn, when I outed Summit Equipment & Supplies, how many people in Castle Homes had no idea the dump was even there. I expected people to say, “Hey I remember that!” Instead, I got “How come I never heard about this?!”
If we continue this “low education” public awareness campaign for forty years, over 1,323 sites, how many people does this leave who have been exposed to toxic waste without being informed? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, including members of the military who have been exposed at US military bases, like Camp Lejune.
What can you do to help?
At this point there is really nothing that can be done to fix this glaring national public health issue but to educate the public and hope that people will understand the risks of Superfund sites, and keep their children away from them, regardless of what The EPA says, because by their logic, they have a 100% positive track record for successful clean-ups, which is statistically and realistically impossible. The EPA will come into a community, tell them a site needs to be cleaned up for being a danger to the public health, and at the same time they will have their community relations officers tell those very same affected residents, “There is nothing to fear.”
UC Berkeley recently released a study showing that parents who have been exposed to Superfund chemicals – like TCE – have offspring that experience a 25% higher chance of experiencing genetically predisposed illnesses, which arise from random genetic anomalies, like Autism, and Lukemia. Pair this with the recent report that two thirds of all cancers occur from “random genetic anomalies,” which included no mention of the Superfund project, and you start to understand that the reality you think you live in is not the reality you actually live in, and if you demand the truth, you won’t get it.
The only real things you can do to help are to get this information out, make sure everyone knows, or start your own cause fighting to educate people to the silent monstrosity that is toxic waste.
This is a non-political issue. When Metallica’s James Hetfield wants to hunt, kill, and eat a whole bear on stage he wants it to be healthy; he wants the environment he hunts in to be free of volatile organic compounds, and the animals he hunts to be healthy. When The Daily Show’s John Stewart wants to have an intimate relationship with the forest he does not want to catch an S-Tree-D.
For once in our lives in this clusterfuck of bi-partisan madness we live in we have a found a subject we can all support. All I ask is that you share this article and be aware of what is happening in your own world.
I am a professional documentary film maker and environmental advocate that has been trying to make a movie about the 1,322, EPA Superfund sites in The US, called Death Water. After two years of battles, I’ve had enough. You could say I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. I think it’s finally time that I stood up and said how I really feel.
What have I learned while trying to make my documentary about toxic waste?
Well… I’ve learned a lot. I’m sort of an accidental environmentalist, someone who came walking along and unwittingly fell through a series of trap doors, only to emerge into a world where nothing is what it seems, after I tried to expose a toxic waste in my Akron, Ohio childhood neighborhood of Castle Homes using a short film and series of petitions.
You see that scientist? He looks nice. Really, he is collecting grant money to pay for the Persian rug in his living room, as the chemicals that are welling up inside your house slowly melt your face off, and make so you have to drive everyone you know to the doctors all the time.
But that lady from the EPA, she seemed kind. She cared about us, came and talked to us, and told us there was nothing to worry about and how creating a Superfund site would create more jobs… for scientists, heyy, wait a minute!!
That’s right, that community relations officer you just talked to was, literally, Satan.
Your local newspaper cares right? Shee-it. The Mayor was not high on meth he was helping to reduce the level of drugs on the street in order live up to his Meth Free Community Initiative. That’s why he doesn’t have time to make a statement to the media about the local Superfund site, because he’s in rehab visiting other patients to tell them of his battles, and how, for a small donation of $20, they can help, too.
In this dysfunctional dystopic world I’ve slipped into, I’ve witnessed EPA officials lie using the media, which is just disturbing.
In the 2014 ABC – WEWS news piece about the Superfund site in my neighborhood the official response was that the US EPA tested Nesmith lake “during the original incident.” Yet, when the incident occurred the Akron Beacon Journal reported, 25 years earlier, that Ralph Dolhopf from the Ohio EPA stated, “There’s probably not a problem with the lake. If we thought there was a problem we would have been out there.”
But, if there was no problem with the lake in 1987 then why did his organization place a fish eating ban, which is in place to this day, due to PCB contamination, six years previous in 1981?
And regardless of when they tested why is the lake still filled with PCB’s in 2015?
Dolhopf also stated that it was not likely that they would find cancer causing dioxin at the various locations associated with the Superfund site.
What’s never been reported clearly in any of this is that there were two incidents in Castle Homes.
The first was the Superfund site, Summit Equipment and Supplies, which was referred to the National Priorities list in 1987. During that period of time, during the original incident, The EPA did not test Nesmith Lake. This is when my friends and I played in the dump that had no signs warning us we were playing in a Superfund site.
The second incident occurred in 1991 when they found live tank and mortar shells, dumped at Summit Equipment and Supplies, by the Defense Logistics Agency. The site never made The National Priorities List because the Department of Defense became involved in the clean up.
It was only then that The EPA surface tested the water, made no statements about the sediments, and found dioxin and PCB’s on the shores of Nesmith Lake, the former location of the Hi Loma Beach Club, a local swimming hole that was used by the community until the early 1970’s.
I sat there and watched the Region 5 EPA make statements in the media, in 2014, that were maliciously false. I witnessed the falsification of public records, with the Region 5 director stating there was “no concern from the community” after I had been in The Region 5 EPA office ten days earlier telling him there were concerns from the community.
When I made my short film, Poison in the Grapes, which started all of this for me, I really didn’t have a lot of expectations for what would happen but that the local newspaper would print an article. The toxic incident in my neighborhood is a part of my back story. I had no idea the cause was going to blow up the way it did, eventually leading me into a career fighting for communities who have been effected by toxic incidents. I call it a career because that is the easiest way to frame what I do, but really, it’s my life.
I was 800 miles south of Akron when I released the film about Castle Homes in August of 2013, talking to a man about a toxic incident that occurred in his own neighborhood, with yet another example of EPA corruption. They told him he was safe, for over a decade. The one day, the EPA’s story changed.
For the last two years, after all of this has occurred, I’ve traveled the country learning about the Superfund project from fellow victims. I’m not an expert. I’m not affiliated with anyone special, not anyone that has the power to change anything, apparently.
I am a person who is simply trying to understand why the toxic waste situation in this country is so bad. I feel like no one is giving me answers, or data. I feel like the people who are supposed to be protecting us right now hopped on the money train years ago and said, “cha Ching see ya suckers!!”
To me, if this is the field I work in and I can’t even get answers, how is the average American who is focused on hundreds of their own problems supposed to be able make any decisions about their family’s health?
I know, maybe in between diaper changes, exploding juice boxes, and “The cat is on fire, again?!” parents could sit down and read 47,000 pages of EPA documentation to make sure their kids are safe. That seems reasonable. I would have loved to have known when I was nineteen that my pregnant girlfriend and I were moving in a half a mile from a Superfund site, and a PCB filled lake. Would have been too much ask to keep the neighborhood informed?
I figure, why not get the media involved? They made Ebola famous by publishing 2,000 articles in a five day period; why can’t they do the same thing with the Superfund project?
Why can’t someone just come on the news and say, “Well, I mean, I am not a scientist, or really anything, but this here EPA web site says that there are 1,322 Superfund toxic waste sites in The US, like what happened to Hinkley from the film Erin Brockovich, on the EPA’s National Priorities List, and I think we all need to know more about it.”
No dice. Instead, Kim’s ass broke the internet.
Then there is Erin Brockovich, herself, the go to woman for toxic waste. I respect Erin Brockovich, and value her for her great contributions to protecting the environment, but I reserve the right to be angry about the way things went down in Akron, Ohio. What did she do for our community? Nothing.
I created the aforementioned short film about the toxic incident in my neighborhood, marketed it myself, paid for everything, and really needed nothing else but some media support. All we wanted was an article published in the Beacon Journal about our cause. I wanted to make sure that everyone knew about that dump, and also to stay away from that lake until they make an effort to clean up the PCB’s.
That was really how all of this started. Akron Beacon Journal refused to write about us. Our group then ran a petition, got 1000 signatures, and the offending newspaper still refused to deliver a news piece about our cause. That is the day my feature length documentary about the 1,322, Superfund sites was born.
At that moment when the original short film was released, what happened was the setup for a social reform perfect storm. There were 764 people demanding answers on a Facebook Fan Page, there were three petitions running, and at that moment Erin Brockovich could have stepped in, secured the media side of things, and that would have ended my time as an environmental advocate.
I handed her a home run lob and she didn’t take it. In that respect she really let my community down. She knows I feel this way as I have directly expressed this to her but still no answers or movement. While Erin did offer me assistance in Hinkley, California, where I am working on a short film about the infamous small desert town that started her career, she has flatly refused to provide me any assistance in Castle Homes.
Then, the entire cause in Akron was destroyed, slowly devoured, along with my name and personal reputation, basically crushing my film career into submission for two years, because I was being called crazy for things that actually happened in reality and were documented by public records. I’ve still not fully recovered from the hit.
To make my life even more absurd, once Erin refused to help our community I felt like I would be a part of the problem if I didn’t take up the cause, like the day James Hetfield decided to start singing for Metallica, “OK. If there is no one else I’ll do it.”
I’m tired of fighting all of the above people – minus poor James Hetfield – to get the information I need to make responsible decisions about my health. My own battles show exactly how hard it is to get answers from the powers that be, from the EPA, to local newspapers, to Erin Brockovich, herself.
The only reason I am even doing any of this is because the people that are supposed to be doing it aren’t. If the national media had reported on any of this, I’d be somewhere else doing something else. My life would have taken an entirely different path. I feel like, sometimes, that I got dragged into something I should have never been dragged into if other people would have done what it is that they have promised the world they were going to do for us.
I’m someone who is not even supposed to be here today like the guy from Clerks. But, I am here, so I might as well give everything I have to give and make this my mission, right?
I might “work” in the entertainment industry — I apologize for that — but when I speak on the subject of toxic waste I am speaking as an American Citizen who wants answers, an average Joe, that is not getting them. If I turn the other cheek and walk away then everything I have learned, and everything I have fought for, is gone. And now that I know all of the things I know there is no way I can let that happen.
Maybe that postal worker who flew a gyro-copter onto the White House lawn had a point; making an ass out of yourself is really the only thing a US Citizen can do, anymore, to get answers, or the attention of the media for their causes.
Since no one else has the courage to back me up I guess I am going to have to show the world what I am made of and do it myself. For a couple of years I have been reluctant to come out in full force because I think I was just hoping that someone else would do something to help my community, and the other small towns I am fighting for. I really had that sense of idealism, that surely someone would do something about the PCB’s in our lake.
In Provo, Utah they had PCB’s in their fish. The city hired local fisherman to fish the effected bottom feeders out of the lake. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to ask local leaders to make sure our neighborhoods and waterways are clean. If one looks to the other cities in the US who have experienced similar toxic incidents but took the steps to clean them up it’s becomes apparent very quickly where the corruption lives in your own city.
What is unreasonable is when 1000 citizens rise up and demand answers, as they did in Castle Homes, and no one responds, not even Erin Brockovich. And guess who the councilman is who was in charge back then, Garry Moneypenny, the now-resigned Mayor of Akron who sexually assaulted one of his employees.
Because of all of this I’ve come to understand that no one is going to help Castle Homes, unless someone is crapping on cars.
No one is going to write about the 1,322, toxic waste sites in the US, from the national media.
One of the only articles out there, about Superfund sites as a national health issue, is a poorly researched piece of writing by National Geographic that claims that the “hundreds” not 1,322, they used the word, “hundreds,” of sites in the country have only resulted in three cancer clusters being discovered, failing to mention that the CDC only measures cancer clusters where you currently live.
In the article they mention the migration of US Citizens as an issue with tracking cancer rates, but nowhere in the entire argument does it suggest that the writer is aware of the problems with the way we collect cancer data in this country, and they way the CDC classifies cancer clusters. Here is is tip, NatGeo, if you can’t empirically state that toxic waste causes cancer you can’t also empirically state that it doesn’t.
In reading the National Geographic article I was just shocked. Hundreds? Erin Brockovich and her staff say there are around 10,000. The National Priorities List shows there are 1,322. How do any of those numbers equal “hundreds?”
I’m left sitting here with my head spinning when I read like that. I’m in the middle of a hellacious nightmare and I can’t wake up. I pinch myself, “No, I’m awake. This hell is real and alive on Earth. Shit.” Recently, I have been waking up in the morning feeling great, for the first ten seconds. Then the crushing reality of all of the above dumps itself into my consciousness.
I think about how Bill Clinton, arguably one of the most powerful men on the planet, couldn’t overhaul the Superfund project, so how am I, as one guy, supposed to make any kind of real difference?
Pardon my language, but the media back then had us so concerned about a blow job that we fucked ourselves by not looking beyond those headlines for what really mattered. Sometimes profanity is the only thing that can effectively describe another profanity, in my honest opinion.
Except, instead of using four letter words, the profanity I’m referring to uses a lot of three letter words, or acronyms, like TCE, PCE, PCB, EPA, and DoD and unlike saying a bad word, this “foul language” can cause your offspring to be more susceptible to childhood lukemia.
I’m sure I am not the first to confirm that we as Americans are truly powerless to change anything. The harshest reality of all was learning, without a shred of doubt, that the former statement is absolutely true.
Unless you gather up ten thousand of your neighbors to stand up and fight you will never get answers or movement on the toxic site in your community. Even then, when they clean it up, they will dump the waste somewhere else and start a new Superfund site and BOOM ten million more dollars in funding for EPA scientists. Persian rugs on the ceiling for everyone!
In Mountain View, California, where The State of California is investigating a growing cancer spike, potentially from the Moffett Field Superfund site, underneath Google and NASA locations, the TCE that has been cleaned from the groundwater supply was placed on trucks and shipped to Texas, where they promptly created another toxic waste site, so the proposition is anything other than indecent.
I could sit here and relate tale after tale of blatant corruption — or is it just ignorance? — that has effected whole towns full of people, like Hinkley, from the film Erin Brockovich but what good would it do?
From time to time people rise up and demand answers. In communities where this has happened upright citizens will fight to death for their cause while being unaware that 100 miles east of them is another community with the same fight, or that there are hundreds of other cities with same type of environmental issues demanding the same type of answers.
The result is a large number of segmented groups all fighting for their own neighborhoods but none of them working together towards a larger goal, like fighting for the environmental health of the entire country. They say, “We need to focus on our problems in our own community.”
The groups that are winning their fights the leadership of those groups have their very own special interests. I had a conversation with a prominent group in the mid-west who secured a clean up after years of fighting. The leader of the cause said to me, “We need The EPA. You stay away from The EPA.” Apparently, she must have signed a deal with their local EPA community relations officer, Bea Al-Zabub.
In Kentucky they pulled the Bible card and called me the “devil with fancy gifts,” when my ideas didn’t line up with their goals.
Trying to approach these groups has been extremely difficult as there is always someone who starts grabbing everything around them, screaming, “Mine. Its all mine!! I will be the next Erin Brockovich!! You’ll see!!” Or if you want the special interest to go even deeper than that:
This is a family member of Roberta Walker, the woman who did the foundational research that Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry used to begin the lawsuit in Hinkley. I approached them to offer them a free film. But because of their relationship with Erin Brockovich, I was shut out of the cause, and then publicly defamed. I wanted nothing from them but to offer support for their cause.
What I did was nothing more than a selfless act of kindness. This was the response.
My agenda was to support his agenda, by providing free media, film, and social media services and make sure that the myths and mistruths that block him from doing his work were dispelled. This is what happens when you try to help people.
I politely requested, for ten days, that Roberta Walker contact me so I could discuss some things about toxic waste and advocacy with her, and to make sure I got accurate information. I sent her a polite message on LinkedIn, through InMail, I tagged her in several posts, and then I put a public message to ask her to contact me, and the above post was the result.
And what is amusing about all of this is that I am still working with members of the community of Hinkley in spite of the above abject stupidity!
There is no hope of creating a rebellion that is going to rise up and take out the toxic waste Death Star. In this Universe, however, Vader breathes through that mask because the entire galaxy is a Superfund site. Yoda isn’t green because he is an alien. It’s because the mother fucker can’t breathe!
Anymore I have to laugh or will dissolve into tears, literally. The fact of the matter is while everyone else sits and makes millions from the Superfund the victims get no compensation or answers. The EPA will come into your neighborhood, tell you that there is a site that is dangerous to the human health, but then when you try to talk about the health risks they change the subject and say:
EPA: “There is nothing to worry about. We chose monitored natural attenuation to restore your site to compliance.”
Me: “Well, that’s great, but monitored natural attenuation means letting the groundwater cleans itself, right?”
EPA: “That’s right.”
Me: “So what you are saying is that you are going to do nothing and give it the official sounding name of monitored natural attenuation?”
EPA: “That’s right.”
Me: “But that means that really you are not doing anything to clean up the site?”
EPA: “That’s wrong. Our scientists come out five years, measure the toxic waste. and then bill the government $65,000,000. Good news. The laws of physics are working in your neighborhood. In 50 to 100 years it will be like nothing ever happened, and we were there to measure it, and bill you for it. Signage not included.”
I’m kidding, though, the EPA won’t talk to me, unless it’s to investigate me. In November of 2014, an article I had written on another subject scored a large audience, which caused the EPA freak out and contact me. They said they were investigators. I thought they were calling to investigate my allegations about the regional directors. Half way through the conversation they tell me they are investigating me for walking in the Region 5 EPA office and asking them to help our community. Then, even though I am not hiding from anyone, the guy on the phone screams, “We’ll find you!!”
Great. Should I prepare some nacho cheese dip and some fresh tortilla chips?
Let’s sit down and have a talk about all of these crimes I have witnesses at the hands of the nine regional directors of the US Environmental Protection Agency and why The EPA – CID is not investigating and charging them in compliance with their mandate to investigate people who contribute polluting the environment, and why is the EPA is allocating funds, your tax dollars, to investigate an environmental advocate who is working to expose their own crimes?
That was the reward for having the guts to stand up for my fellow toxic waste exposure victims. It was only recently that I learned that the EPA has used this threatening people with charges tactic on other advocates. I knew I wasn’t the only person who had been threatened with an investigation. Hearing other people’s stories, people from reputable universities, telling me the same thing about their own environmental battles resulting in threats from the EPA, made me feel at least like I wasn’t alone, or crazy for talking about what they did to me.
How I would love to secure video interviews with all of these directors of the regional EPA offices and ask them about each incidence of corruption I have witnessed but the EPA has reminded me that they plan on charging me with a crime if I attempt to secure those interviews. Michael Moore can do things like that but if I exercise my Constitutional rights as a US Citizen I get threatened with criminal charges.
I’ve often thought I should just take an entire camera crew with me, including local media, and try to get those interviews. Do you think they’ll arrest me when they are on every news channel in the city? Why do I need to even think things like that?
Why can’t I get my interviews and do my job in peace. If they The EPA feels it isn’t doing anything wrong then why do they care what kind of questions that I ask them. If I am nobody, as they say, why do they care if I make films about them? No one is ever going to see them, right? Why do they care if I catch a federal official lying on film? Oh… yeah, that’s right, I forgot, because if I get their statements on film, they could be exposing themselves to an investigation for corruption.
That is what it has come to when trying to complete my documentary about the 1,322, Superfund sites. I can’t just make a film. It has to be a war, because none of these people want things to change due to their own special interests.
In trying to do my do my work and make a film I have learned I might never get to finish my documentary because it points the finger right at all the key players we know and love. None of them are going to take a shot at their own bread and butter, and that is the realty of the situation. As a result, my life will never be the same, again. The losses I have experienced have been astounding, in my personal and professional life.
It’s like I got black balled for trying to speak my mind.
In the end, all I want is for Elon Musk to hurry up with the spaceship to Jupiter, or wherever he is going. Because he knows what I now know: This planet is screwed and there ain’t no turning back. But… until we figure out how to get off this rock I’ll still be here doing everything I can to educate people about the 1,322 EPA Superfund toxic waste sites, on the EPA’s National Priorities List.