Thursday, September 5, 2013

How Virginia DEQ violates the Clean Air Act & RCRA Subpart X

At the direction of Congress, the EPA established guidelines in RCRA Subpart X permits to protect human health and the environment. The ability of Virginia DEQ to write the provisions of the permit for the Open Burning Ground at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant does not allow them to violate federal law, but that's exactly what they have done without any enforcement action from EPA.  The hazardous nature of the debris in question means it is NOT SAFE nor appropriate for disposal by Open Burning (OB). This is one reason that Hercules Chemical recognized that building material contaminated with nitrocellulose (NC) must be disposed of very carefully. In fact, this judicial record of hazardous waste clean up at the former NC plant in New Jersey (Picatinny Arsenal) notes:

Hercules is currently in the second phase of the shut down: demolishing the buildings and disposing of the debris. There is no projected completion date for this phase since disposal of the debris is a dangerous and tedious process. Because of its nature, nitrocellulose permeates the buildings and equipment. Each piece of material and equipment must be wiped clean of nitrocellulose particles and the nitrocellulose disposed of, per New Jersey regulations. SAR 34.

The Virginia DEQ, on the other hand, gave the U.S. Army (under the corporate management of Alliant Techsystems [ATK] in 2010) the okey dokey to burn this type of extremely hazardous material at the Open Burning Ground next to the New River without any pollution control devices, air quality monitoring or even informing the community living nearby. In an email exchange dated June 3, 2010 between Frank Adams of DEQ and ATK subject: Re: B-Line Demo Project, Mr. Adams writes:

"The DEQ Air and Waste staff has discussed your proposal for open burning materials from the demolition project. We agree with your proposal, provided that only those materials identified in section 5c are burned."

The description of the materials as defined in 5c to be burned includes:

There is an estimated 200 tons of wood from the building walls that will need to be burned. This wood has been exposed to many years of building nitrocellulose/nitrocotton (NC) purification. The building has been in "stand-by" status for many years with operations continuing to wash the building down due to the risk of nitrocellulose in the building. An estimated 100 tons of scrap metal requires burning to decontaminate prior to recycling off-plant as scrap metal.

NOTE: Rob Davie of the U.S. Army stated at the meeting last night (9.5.13) that this material was sent off-site for disposal. He said it was first "decontaminated by thermal treatment," which he clarified to mean Open Burning at the OBG next to the New River. He did not elaborate on whether the 200 tons of wood were "consumed" in this unique decontamination process or sent offsite along with the 100 tons of scrap metal. He said there is documentation of his assertion that this waste was transferred off site, which the Army will provide. 

ATK goes on to reply to a  question from VA DEQ about prior permission granted by their agency for the open burning of such waste:

A review of our records indicate that about 140,000 pounds were accumulated on the scarp burning during the first calendar quarter 2001 (January - March) and 165,000 pounds were accumulated on the scrap burning ground during the second calendar quarter 2001 (April - June). Records indicate that the scrap burning ground was burned once in 2001 on June 8, 2001.

{What were YOU doing that fine Friday in 2001, or the following weekend ~ floating the river, kayaking or perhaps fishing downstream on the New River?}

Further explanation as to why this hazardous waste (B-Line debris) ought to be "treated" by open burning at the OBG, a mere ~ 1 1/2 miles upwind of Belview Elementary School:

This project will generate three kinds of materials that present a safety concern that requires open burning. First, there are carbon steel tanks and piping (mostly water piping) that have been in NC service that have a rust layer in contact with NC. Our experience indicates that NC is incorporated into this rust layer as it is formed and cannot be removed by washing. The joints of pipe that are less than 9' feet long will be sent to the decon oven. The tanks and longer piping sections will require open burning. Second there are stainless steel items that have been in NC service such as long joints of pipe that are too big to go in the decon oven and cannot be adequately cleaned and inspected to be sold as scrap metal without heat decontamination. Third there is wood that has been in NC service that has sufficient cracks and NC exposure that the Safety Department requires heat decontamination before removal from the facility. In general, this will be limited to the interior wood walls and structural support for the NC service buildings. The hollow wall construction and years of operation has allowed NC to build up in the space between the metal siding and the interior wooden walls. These buildings have been kept wet weekly wet downs during the standby period. The wood will be keep (sic) wet during demolition and removal... 

Even though the Virginia DEQ seems to believe they had the right to allow this egregious violation of the Clean Air Act, they do not in fact have that right. The EPA MUST follow up to the inspection of May 2011 which includes the details of this violation. 

Ask Senator Mark Warner why his office has not responded to requests for a review of EPA compliance at this Federal Facility. In fact, in 2011, Senator Warner's office instructed us NOT TO SEND any more emails about RAAP to ANYONE at his's that for representation of constituent interests? Call Senator Warner today to ask about this failure 202-224-2023 - talk to Luke Albee, who has a copy of that letter from Ann Rust. Ask what his office is doing to ensure compliance with all Federal regulations at RAAP.

See you at the BAE/U.S. Army meeting TONIGHT ~ Sept. 5, 6 pm sharp! 6580 Valley Center Drive  24141! I'll be the one carrying the 2 inch thick EPA inspection report.

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