Test now to protect our children –Waycross citizens group to GA EPD

Waycross citizens have not ceased trying to get answers since they first met with GA EPD in November. -jsq

For Immediate Release:
Silentdisaster.org Meets with Judson Turner, Director of Georgia EPD
May 12, 2014
By: Silentdisaster.org, a citizens group in Waycross, Georgia

After over a year of delays and disappointments, Members of Silentdisaster.org Group met with Judson Turner, Director of EPD on Monday, May 5th to discuss the harmful chemicals found in the Waycross area which the group believes points to CSX as the source of the community’s toxic contamination which is killing local residents. With several children having died and a new childhood case being reported, the Members of Silentdisaster.org want immediate action to protect the children from environmental exposure.

The list of chemicals found in soil and water tests include Trichloroethylene (TCE), Lead, Mercury, Methylene Chloride, Acetone, 1-4 Dioxan, and Benzo(a)pyrene. Toxicologist and scientists with the Center for Health and Environmental Justice have been helping Silentdisaster by reviewing documents and testing results. Based on the finding Silentdisaster.org requested the following immediate actions be taken to prevent further sickness and to protect the people of Waycross:

  • Water testing at both public school systems — the Ruskin Elementary School (3/4 mile from the west end of CSX property) and the Ware County High School (1/8 mile from the CSX contaminated LPABS/OEH CSX RCRA sites).
  • Vapor intrusion testing at both public school buildings d.
  • If any chemicals are identified in either media, the state will immediately respond with clean water supplies and vapor intrusion mitigation system.
  • Water testing beginning at the edge of the CSX property site every 8th of a mile around the perimeter and then out every 8th of a mile until no CSX chemicals are found.
  • Vapor intrusion testing at every other home around the perimeter of the CSX site.
  • If chemicals are found that immediate vapor intrusion mitigation systems are installed.

After Silentdisaster.org members made their request known to Mr. Turner, Mr. Turner referred to Mr. Cowns, Chief of the Land Protection Division, regarding the CSX contamination who insisted the CSX contamination was contained to CSX property OR properties they had purchased. Silentdisaster provided the State with a list of all the chemicals found along with the corresponding excerpts from CSX documents related to the CSX releases of each chemical. The mapped testing locations represented areas to the north, south, and west of CSX property. Silentdisaster insisted that it was not possible for the contamination to be contained on CSX property because ALL of the various testing locations had the SAME chemicals as released by CSX and therefore, logic would reason that there must be a link between CSX and the chemicals found in the community. Silentdisaster members also told the Director, they thought the State’s testing had skirted the real issue of groundwater and vapor intrusion which are causing most of the health issues. Mr. Turner told Mr. Cowns, ‘he needed an explanation’ and Mr. Turner said, he would get back with the Silentdisaster members but they needed time to look into it. Silentdisaster members reminded The Director of all the children who have died and all the people sick.

Specifically, regarding the water testing at the schools, Mr. Turner said drinking water was a priority for the State and they would verify the source of water at each school and review the water results for the City and County wells that supply the schools water. Mr. Turner agreed to provide the group with a copy of these reports by Friday, May 9th, a date which has now come and gone without Silentdisaster members receiving reports.

Members of Silentdisaster voiced their concerns over past testing methods and specifically, that the State’s testing failed to measure for contaminants at levels lower than the Federal Standards called ‘Maximum Contamination Level’ (MCL) for drinking water. High reporting levels were also used to measure for chemicals in the soil tests. The State ‘resampled’ the wells after members of Silentdisaster accused the State of hiding true health risks behind inadequate testing, but the results of the ‘resampling’ have yet to be released. The State had written letters to local residents telling them their water was ‘safe’ even though they had not been tested to ‘Federal Standards’. Silentdisaster pressed the State for the most recent well water testing results which they agreed were ready but they said they needed to notify the home owners first. Mr. Turner again agreed to have the results to the group by May 9th (another report not yet received by members of the group). Regarding the ‘high reporting limits used for soil testing’, Mr. Turner said they did not realize there was a problem with the soil testing and would look into it by Friday, May 9th.

Regarding the vapor intrusion testing for the schools, the State said they usually don’t do vapor intrusion testing without knowing a contamination plume is present under the area being tested, so the State said they would get back with the members on May 9th after reviewing the latest water testing results. Silentdisaster members have not heard from the State on this matter either.

The members of Silentdisaster.org believe these tests are immediately necessary for the safety of the children in our area and anything less would be a violation of EPD’s duty to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens, it’s children.

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 912-281-6897 or Nihlia Griffin at 912-2884668.