Seen on Silentdisaster.org’s facebook page. The EPA and GA-EPD meeting last November and later test results did not satisfy them. Wastewater from that Waycross contamination was shipped to the Pecan Row Landfill in Lowndes County, adding to the other toxic materials in that landfill. -jsq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 1, 2014
By: Silentdisaster.org, a citizens group in Waycross, Georgia
Testing conducted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) have left residents frustrated and angry. Many children are sick and have died from being poisoned by toxic chemicals and residents who live, week-to-week on small budgets, are spending their own money to do testing because they don’t trust government officials who are paid to protect the people and keep them safe’. They should be spending their money on feeding their families and getting well. The lack of honesty in the EPD’s reports is a disgrace to our community and our State.
Newly released environmental testing results from the Georgia EPD on 3 water wells and 3 soil samples from Waycross residents taken January 27-28, 2014 reveal chemicals present but lack appropriateness and honesty. The GA EPD refused to test many of the metals and chemicals of concern to residents. Instead, they tested for Volatile (VOC) chemicals and Semi-Volatile (SVOC) chemicals such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many of these chemical cause cancer and were reportedly found at the CSX and Atlanta Gas & Light (AGL) sites. However, according the Center for Health and Environmental Justice (CHEJ) the EPD used high “Reporting Limits” (RL) some 50 times above the federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) or the known cancer’ limits on these chemicals. Because of this, this testing did not identify many contaminants in the soil or water. This became obvious when residents sent split samples provided by GA EPD to a 3rd party lab who confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals not identified by the GA EPD’s testing. These split samples found highly cancer causing chemical benzo(a)pyrene among other deadly PAHs at levels above acceptable cancer risk levels and above federal clean-up levels. Additionally, after reviewing the High Reporting levels, Silentdisaster.org requested the Raw Data from the GA EPD tests which revealed the GA EPD knew many toxic chemicals that were reported as “Non-Detect” on the reports sent to residents were actually present. The Raw Data included such chemicals as Trichloroethylene (TCE) which CSX reported contaminating groundwater and Semi-Volatiles in a well near the Ruskin School area which both CSX and AGL reported releasing to groundwater. Other testing, such as recent draft report from the US EPA revealed high concentrations of these PAH’s in and around ditches and the creek/canal system of Waycross. The Georgia EPD issued letters to the residents stating their drinking water and soil was “safe” despite using high Reporting Levels that exceeded federal “safe” standards.
This is another slap in the face for local residents who for the last 10 years have been upset at the high number of cancers and neurological diseases in the area. Past efforts included reaching out to the State of Georgia’s Health Department which residents considered a joke and unfruitful.
Initially frustrated by the state’s reluctance to do testing, citizens began testing themselves and found Benzo(a)anthracene , another cancer causing PAH substance in the creek that runs through the heart of the City of Waycross to the Satilla River. Residents first suspected the now closed federally monitored EPA Superfund Site in Waycross called Seven Out because EPA documents showed these chemicals present in the ground at the site. However, according to the EPA the toxic chemicals found in the ground at the Seven Out Superfund Site which is adjacent to CSX could not have come from the actually superfund site which only had small quantities of these chemicals in the tanks or on reported manifest. This led members of the Silentdisaster.org on a search for the true source of the chemicals. Residents soon found that these same toxin among other PAH’s were present in high quantities from contamination that seeped into the groundwater by GA EPD monitored CSX and AGL. In response to over 150 family members of sick or deceased people and over 2400 other concerned local citizens, the Federal EPA and the GA EPD agreed to test the area. The Federal EPA tested in the canal around Mary St. Park and ditches around the old Seven Out Superfund Site and found the same cancer causing chemicals that residents found but additionally found the more toxic Benzo(a)pyrene.
Most recently, after considerable pressure, The GA EPD has responded to pressure over the high Reporting Limits by re-testing the well locations with Reporting Limits that would meet the US EPA’s Maximum Contamination Limits but are not to include Reporting Limits that encompass Cancer Risk Limits. Additionally, they did not re-test the soil locations. Silentdisaster.org believes this matter is urgent and warrants tests that include Reporting Limits for cancer and neurological problems as well as immediate re-testing of the soil.
The citizens of this community expect the State to “serve and protect the people of this community” rather than the special interest of big business. Silentdisaster.org members have requested a meeting with the Directors of the EPA, the EPD, and the State Attorney’s office to express our concerns over the lack of honesty and irresponsible oversight of CSX and AGL. The lack of oversight and the failure to properly monitor clean- up efforts have led to contaminated property and escalating health problems in our area. To date we have not been granted these meetings.
Silentdisaster.org and the citizen’s Facebook page ‘South Georgia’s secret killer’ is a local citizens group concerned with the on-going environmental toxins that are causing health problems in our community and are committed to efforts that will remove residents from contaminated area if desired, compel the clean-up of affected properties by companies polluting, and call for adequate medical resources and information that would assist in the restoration of the health of residents affected by these toxic chemicals. For more information contact Joan Tibor McNeal at 912-281-689 or Nihlia Griffin at 912-288-4668.