Excerpt from Vol. 2 (1995), No. 3 of F.A.C.T.S. Newsletter

F.A.C.T.S. Briefs:

...

90 per cent of the toxicity? Reacting to the announced partial cleanup of the Linde/Praxair property Tonawanda Supervisor Carl Calabrese was reported to say that it made sense to deal with the Linde site first because, while it has 10 per cent of the total waste volume, it has 90 per cent of the toxicity making it the dirtiest property in the total Tonawanda Site. These figures are incorrect; according to the Feasibility Study, (page 5-63) the Linde property has 80,130 cubic yards of waste or about 22 per cent of the total volume at the total Site. And the Linde property certainly does not have anywhere near 90 per cent of the radioactivity or toxicity. In fact, most reports show the Linde property to be the least contaminated of the five properties in terms of the amounts (in curies) of each of the three principal radioactive elements present: radium, thorium and uranium; the sole exception being the uranium content at Ashland 2. Even the most recently designated property, the Town of Tonawanda Landfill has more contamination:

 Radioactive Content of Tonawanda Properties
                                 (in Curies)
                                       
               Volume (yd3)    Radium-226    Thorium-230    Uranium-238

Ashland 1      120,000             1.2            20             5.5

Seaway         117,000             0.8            13             1.5

Ashland 2       52,100             0.3             4             0.8

Town of Ton.    15,200             1.3             1             2.3
Landfill

Linde           47,950             0.2             0.7           1.0

(derived from information presented in "EMAB Briefing on New York FUSRAP Sites, August 22-23, 1995, Tonawanda, New York" [see table])

Why then has DOE chosen the Linde/Praxair property for a partial "interim" cleanup? DOE officials have repeatedly said there is no health threat posed to workers by contamination at this site. Of course, if that were true then a cleanup would not be necessary. Obviously, it's not true. In addition, could it be that Praxair is better connected politically than the other property owners?

 

SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT

by Don Finch

At the March 29 workshop held by DOE, Kevin Ironsides was explaining to me the dose- response curves (linear, supralinear, etc.) used to predict cancer hazards due to long-term exposure to low-level radioactive waste. Mr. Ironsides works for Science Applications International Corporation, a contractor to DOE at the Tonawanda Site. He identified himself as a toxicologist. After listening attentively to his explanations, I asked him if he was familiar with the works of Drs. Mancuso, Gofman, Stewart and Quigley? He said he was not familiar with their research. Yet, it was these independent specialists, in the fields of medicine, radiobiology and epidemiology, who years ago documented greater hazards of long-term exposure to low-level radioactive waste than were then officially recognized.

 

DEFICIENCIES IN THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

by Jim Rauch

The draft environmental review document (RI-BRA/FS/EIS) for the Tonawanda, N.Y. Site contains several significant deficiencies (see "Comments on RI/FS-EIS for the Tonawanda, New York FUSRAP Site" by James Rauch, 2-6-94):

1.) For example, over 50% of Manhattan Project-related environmental contamination (27.3 curies of uranium and radium) at the five properties which make up the Site consists of radioactive liquid effluents which were discharged to surface water, via storm and sanitary sewers, and to groundwater by 'deep' (130 ft. to 150 ft.) well injection, by the Linde Air Products Division of Union Carbide.

The company decided to inject 55 million gallons of radioactive liquid effluent containing 5.5 curies of radium-226 into the bedrock aquifer below their refinery facility because their legal department thought "that it is considered impossible to determine the course of subterranean streams and, therefore, the responsibilty for any contamination could not be fixed."

Linde's legal department preferred the injection well disposal route to the surface routes because surface disposal "is objectionable because of probable future complications in the event of claims of contamination against us." Despite this, Linde later used the surface disposal routes as well. Although the Army expressed reservations at the injection well plan, saying, "We would also like some assurance that the government will not under the terms of the contract be required at some later date to remove any effluent which may remain in the well or be required to restore the well to its original condition," it apparently acquiesced to Linde's use of both disposal routes. Linde still occupies the site, however they have changed their name to Praxair, Inc.

Curiously, The EIS package for the Tonawanda, N.Y. Site does not define the extent of groundwater contamination resulting from the 'deep well' injection nor does it contain any remediation proposal for the injected effluent as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). [see J. Rauch's "Comments on RI/FS-EIS for the Tonawanda, New York FUSRAP Site" comments 29 and 50].

2) The same is true for the surface discharge effluents, including dredgings and sewer plant sludge taken to Tonawanda's municipal landfill (see J. Rauch's comments 33, 34, 39, and 42).

3) In these cases, it seems the DOE does not intend to fulfill the requirements of NEPA. Based on the above, it appears likely that Linde Division/Union Carbide Corporation may share legal responsibilty with the federal government for the contamination associated with these discharge routes. If so, shouldn't the federal government pursue Union Carbide Corporation (Linde's parent firm at the time) for a portion of the remediation costs?

The previous quotations are from correspondence contained in "The Federal Connection: A History of U.S. Military Involvement in the Toxic Contamination of Love Canal and the Niagara Frontier Region, 1-29-81, a report by the New York State Assembly Task Force on Toxic Substances" (see verbatim excerpt directly below). This report made several recommendations including a request that the state attorney general determine if New York State should bring legal action against the federal government.

 

Ed. note: The following excerpt is an exact copy of text found in the Federal Connection - A History of U.S. Military Involvement in the Toxic Contamination of Love Canal and the Niagara Frontier Region Volume 1, Page 128:

The Advantage of Dumping Wastes into Underground Wells

The rationale behind the initial decision to use the underground wells, revealed in a remarkable and discerning series of correspondence between Linde and MED, merits particularly close review. In a March 29, 1944 letter to Captain Emery Van Horn, MED's Tonawanda Area Engineer (its chief regional officer), [see appendix] Linde stated that dumping the wastes into the storm sewer system which drained into a nearby creek ("Plan 1") was "objectionable because of probable future complications in the event of claims of contamination against us." see footnote 24

Linde's fear was that the discharge of Step I wastes in this obvious and crude manner might cause injury and give rise to clear-cut liability, particularly since the hot, caustic liquors would be flowing through a public park in which children frequently played. see footnote 25 Moreover, Linde's Law Department had ruled that dumping the wastes in this manner would be in violation of existing New York State regulations. see footnote 25a

Linde strongly favored the pumping of the effluent into underground wells ("Plan 2") for one simple, but convincing reason - - it believed that the resultant underground toxic contamination could not be readily traced to the Linde Plant. In requesting MED's permission to use the underground wells, Linde explained the principal advantage of Plan 2:

"our Law Department advises that it is considered impossible to determine the course of subterranean streams and, therefore, the responsibility for any contamination could not be fixed. Our Law Department recommends that this method of disposal be followed." see footnote 26 (emphasis added)

Linde further asserted that the content of the liquors themselves were not harmful, a fact which Linde claimed had been attested to by local, state and federal officials:

"We understand that local representatives of the New York State Board of Health and of the Town of Tonawanda Filtration Plant have given the opinion that the effluent liquors are not detrimental to the public health. We also are told that Captain Ferry has expressed the opinion that there is nothing in the effluent liquors detrimental to public health." see footnote 27 (emphasis added)

The self-contradiction inherent in Linde's analysis of the disposal alternatives is evident. If the Step 1 effluents truly were, as Linde represented, not 'detrimental to public health', the fear of liability arising from their discharge into the wells would be groundless.

Clearly, Linde recognized that contamination from discharge of the effluent would have a detrimental impact, since the choice of the well disposal method was made in order to evade liability. It is most disheartening that the use of underground wells was advised by Linde not because this method was safer or scientifically more sound but so that the source of contamination, the MED-owned, Linde-operated Ceramics Plant, could not be readily identified.