Sunday, October 12, 2003

 
THE CORPS' PARTIAL THORIUM RECORD OF DECISION.


QUESTIONS THAT SEPT. 30 "MAINSTREAM" DAILY ARTICLE EITHER COULD NOT OR WOULD NOT ADDRESS, BUT WHICH ABSOLUTELY MUST BE ANSWERED IN THE COMING WEEKS AND MONTHS.

A. WHEN WILL - OR EVEN WILL - THE EPA FINALLY REQUIRE STEPAN CHEMICAL COMPANY TO ISSUE ITS OWN LONG_DELAYED PROPOSED PLAN FOR ADDRESSING THE CLEANUP OF SEPARATE SOIL AND GROUNDWATER CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION THROUGHOUT MAYWOOD'S MASSIVE SITE?

STEPAN HAS BEEN WORKING UNDER ORDERS FROM THE EPA TO COME UP WITH SOME KIND OF PLAN ADDRESSING THIS IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE CLEANUP SINCE 1991, AND AMAZINGLY, THE ISSUE STILL HAS NOT BEEN RESOLVED.

THIS, DESPITE THE FACT THAT MUCH OF THE REMAINING WASTE IS MIXED WITH CHEMICALS AND THORIUM, AND MUST EFFECTIVELY BE ADDRESSED TOGETHER.

B. HOW WILL THIS PROJECT BE FINANCED, AND WHO EXACTLY WILL PAY FOR IT?

WILL THE CORPS AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE EFFORTS AT OVERTURNING THEN-CONGRESSMAN (AND FORMER U.S. SENATOR) ROBERT TORRICELLI'S CONTROVERSIAL AND POLITICAL "DOE-STEPAN" AGREEMENT - WHICH HE ADMITTEDLY NEGOTIATED HIMSELF FOR HIS CAMPAIGN DONOR (STEPAN CHEMICAL) - SO THE CORPS CAN TRY RECOVERING MORE CLEANUP MONIES FOR THE THORIUM PART OF THE FINAL CLEANUP?

THAT IS, RATHER THAN SIMPLY AND EXCLUSIVELY RELYING ON THE UNCERTAIN NATURE OF ANNUAL CONGRESSIONAL APPROPRIATIONS, TO ATTACK THIS MASSIVE PROBLEM?

IN FACT, THE CORPS RAISED THIS POSSIBILITY IN ITS 1997 REPORT TO CONGRESS, AFTER CONGRESS TRANSFERRED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MAYWOOD SITE FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE).

NOW FOR SOME BACKGROUND.

IN 1983, TORRICELLI ACTED TO OVERRIDE THE EPA VIA BIFURCATING FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLEANING UP CHEMICALS (RETAINED BY STEPAN) AND THORIUM (SWITCHED FROM STEPAN TO THE TAXPAYERS THROUGH THE DOE).

CITING CONCERNS OVER WHAT HE INSISTED WAS THE UNCERTAIN NATURE OF STEPAN'S FULL LIABILITY, TORRICELLI ACTED 20 YEARS AGO ON BEHALF OF HIS CAMPAIGN DONOR EVEN THOUGH THE EPA ORIGINALLY INTENDED ON DESIGNATING STEPAN THE PRIME "POTENTIALLY RESPONSIBLE PARTY (PRP)" FOR BOTH THORIUM AND CHEMICALS. STEPAN WAS READY TO MOVE ON THE FEASIBILITY STUDY BEFORE TORRICELLI INTERVENED.

IN FOLLOWING THE SUPERFUND LAW - THE AGENCY BASED ITS DETERMINATION ON THE FACT THAT STEPAN INHERITED THE FINANCIAL ASSETS OF ITS PREDECESSOR, MAYWOOD CHEMICAL WORKS, VIA A 1960 STOCK TRANSACTION. THE NEW BOROUGH COMPANY EVEN CONSOLIDATED MAYWOOD CHEMICAL WITH ITS OPERATION AS "A DIVISION OF STEPAN."

THOUGH ITS (STEPAN'S) CLAIM DID NOT DETER THE EPA FROM ORIGINALLY INITIATING PRP ENFORCEMENT ACTION ON THORIUM - STEPAN HAS - AND APPARENTLY STILL- MAINTAINS (ALONG WITH COUNCILMAN TOM RICHARDS AND REP. STEVE ROTHMAN (D-9), AT LEAST UP UNTIL RECENTLY) THAT TAXPAYERS MUST BEAR FULL LIABILITY FOR CLEANING UP ANY REMAINING THORIUM FOUND AT THE SITE.

THEY HAVE ASSERTED THAT TORRICELLI'S CAMPAIGN DONOR IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE RADIOLOGICAL PART OF THE MESS BECAUSE THE PROBLEM WAS GENERATED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

YET, DURING DISCUSSIONS AS EARLY AS 1981 INVOLVING THE DOE AND MAYWOOD'S THEN-REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN MARGE ROUKEMA, THE DOE POINTED OUT THAT "THERE NEVER WAS A CONTRACT" FOR MAKING PRODUCTS USING THORIUM BETWEEN MAYWOOD CHEMICAL AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

MOREOVER, THE EPA, YEARS AFTER TORRICELLI NEGOTIATED - AND FOUGHT WITH RICHARDS TO RETAIN - THE ORIGINAL COST-SHARING AGREEMENT - HELD TO ITS VIEW THAT STEPAN WAS THE PRIME PRP, FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEANING UP THORIUM AND CHEMICALS IN ONE CLEANUP ACTION.

BUT, PERHAPS DUE TO PRESSURE FROM TORRICELLI, THE POLITICALLY IMPOTENT (AND VERY POLITICAL) EPA ITSELF NEVER MOVED TOWARD OVERTURNING THE LAWMAKER'S (SOME CRITICS CHARACTERIZED AS A 'SWEETGEART') AGREEMENT.

THE AGENCY, RATHER INEXPLICABLY, DEFERRED COMPLETELY TO STEPAN'S SUPPORTIVE POLITICIANS VIA ALLOWING THEM TO HELP THE PLANT OVERRIDE THE SWEEPING ENFORCEMENT ACTION IT ORIGINALLY WANTED TO TAKE AGAINST THE WEST HUNTER AVENUE PLANT.

CRITICS ASSERTED THAT TORRICELLI'S ACTIONS IMPROPERLY SAVED THE PLANT TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CLEANUP COSTS, CAUSED DELAYS, AND UNNECESSARILY CREATED A NEW LAYER OF BUREAUCRACY (VIA MAKING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT A PRP).

D. THUS, WILL RICHARDS, IF BECOMING MAYOR OR EVEN IF HE REMAINS A COUNCILMAN IN 2004, FIGHT WITH ROTHMAN TO TRY UPHOLDING TORRICELLI'S ORIGINAL AGREEMENT ON BEHALF OF HIS CAMPAIGN DONOR? -

WILL EITHER RICHARDS OR ROTHMAN (OR BOTH MEN TOGETHER) TRY THROWING UP ROADBLOCKS IN FURTHER PROTECTING STEPAN - IF THE CORPS SEEKS TO MOVE AHEAD IN COMMENCING NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PLANT IN TRYING TO GET IT TO POKE UP MORE MONEY FOR HELPING MAYWOOD REMOVE THE THORIUM (ALONG WITH THE CHEMICALS) , AS PER THE EPA'S ORIGINAL DICTATE?

FOR THAT MATTER, WILL STEPAN FURTHER TRY DRAGGING THE WHOLE SCENARIO OUT BY SEEKING TO BLOCK ANY SUCH ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS - WHICH THE ARMY CORPS -MIGHT INITIATE - IN COURT?

E. WILL THE CORPS FINALLY ISSUE ANY PLAN OF ACTION (OR A "NO ACTION" DECISION) RELATED TO ADDRESSING RADIOACTIVE GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION - WHICH IT DID NOT RELEASE WITH THE "SOILS AND BUILDINGS" PROPOSALIN AUGUST OF 2002? WHY HAVE THEY DELAYED RELEASING IT?

iF THAT IS THE CORPS' INTENTION, THEN WHEN WILL ANY SUCH PLAN BE RELASED?

F. IS "UP AND OUT" DEFINED BY THE CORPS AND EPA AS CLEANING UP MANDATORILY (AND NOT MERELY STRIVING TO ACHIEVE) A LEVEL OF FIVE PICOCURIES PER GRAM (pcI/g) THROUGHOUT ALL LEVELS OF MAYWOOD'S REMAINING SOIL- AS HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN DEFINED BY THE EPA?

IF SO, HOW WILL ALL FUTURE CLEANUPS IN MAYWOOD CONCLUSIVELY VERIFY THIS LEVEL WAS OBTAINED THROUGHOUT THE SITE?

THE AGENCY HAS STATED, IN A POSITION PAPER AFFECTING A THORIUM SITE IN WEST CHICAGO, ILL.,THAT THIS DEFINITIVE CRITERIA IS "HEALTH-BASED" AND MOST PROTECTIVE OF HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT-

IT HAS ALSO STATED THAT THE LEVEL WOULD FREE ALL REMAINING UNREMEDIATED MAYWOOD PROPERTIES FOR "UNRESTRICTED USE." THE POSITION, ONCE REJECTED IN MAYWOOD BY THE DOE (CAUSING THE EPA TO RELENT IN ITS EARLIER ADVOCACY) TRIGGERED OVER NINE YEARS OF STRUGGLE ONCE THE STATE RAISED OBJECTIONS.

THUS, IF 5 pcI/g IS NOW GUARANTEED AND MANDATED, IT WILL END A CLEANUP CRITERIA DISPUTE BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES THAT HAS ACTUALLY DRAGGED ON FOR NINE YEARS.

THE CORPS' PARTIAL THORIUM RECORD OF DECISION.

FIRST OF TWO PARTS.

SOME FACTS THAT THE CURRENT POLITICIANS - PARTICULARLY REP. STEVE ROTHMAN (D-9) AND DEMOCRATIC COUNCILMAN TOM RICHARDS - SIMPLY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW- - AND WHICH BERGEN COUNTY'S "MAINSTREAM DAILY PRINT ORGAN" EITHER CANNOT, OR SIMPLY REFUSES TO, EXPOSE

By Chris Neidenberg

A. RICHARDS CONSTANTLY TRIED THWARTING MIKE NOLAN'S EFFORTS.

THAT "MAINSTREAM" DAILY NEWSPAPER IN HACKENSACK:

Quoted Democratic mayoral candidate Councilman Thomas Richards in the Sept. 30 daily newspaper report as praising the late Michael Nolan, environmental chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Maywood, for being largely responsible for helping convince the federal government to excavate and dispose all of Maywood's remaining soil - as purportedly outlined in the thorium Record of Decision (ROD)

THE REALITY IS:

Richards can criticize whomever he wants, and the fact remains that, for an approximate 18-year period, he was one of Nolan's loudest and harshest critics.

In addition, the councilman (whether on the governing body, or as chairman of his flawed and failed Environmental Legislative Action Committee - ELAC) tried constantly throwing roadblocks in the way of the late resident at almost every step.

In truth, and in stark contrast to Nolan; Richards never really cared that much about pursuing "up and out," in ending Maywood's thorium woes.

In fact, he kept trying to help the corps promote the "soil separation" proposal he now opposes up until only recently. Richards was not alone. His Republican mayoral opponent, Councilman Thomas Gaffney, also supported the corps' efforts at trying to promote and pursue the technology.

Yet Richards tried promoting the separation technology in a clandestine manner.

In late 2000 (with the full knowledge of Gaffney), he and then-Borough Administrator John Perkins invited Richards' Democratic colleagues to the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS) to view a test of the separation machine during a secretive meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Congressman Steve Rothman and 37th District state legislators Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg, then-Assemblyman Charles "Ken" Zisa and State Senator Byron Baer, attended.

The meeting was secretive because, in a letter to the lawmakers, Perkins said "no public or press" would be invited to the session.

Additionally, Richards (while a private citizen) tried promoting (and fought Nolan over) using an even earlier treatment scheme known as "soil washing," that was being pitched as far back as 1994 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE.)

The earlier proposal - while stressing treating soils in place - differed somewhat from the "segmented gate soil separation" system the corps tried pitching in its partial proposed thorium cleanup plan of last year

Richards did so, even as he knew there was no guarantee this treatment method could assure the same results as the "up and out" strategy - also known as full off-site excavation and permanent disposal - he now reportedly espouses.

As far back as 1994, Richards even questioned the need to excavate all of Maywood's soil - the policy long advocated by Nolan and his Concerned Citizens colleagues.

He asserted that it was not necessary, given that all of Maywood's remaining contaminated dirt lied in a commercially-zoned area.

At the same time, Richards said he was confident that soil washing "could suck out all of the thorium anyway," even as the DOE's reports remained uncertain

Nolan was generally treated very poorly through the years by Democrats and Republicans on the council. Yet Richards lashed out particularly quite harshly against the community activist.

Richards consistently tried undercutting Nolan in a number of ways. He did so as the late resident kept raising valid questions over Torricelli's "DOE-Stepan agreement," the Borough Council's - and Richards' - own strange conduct concerning the Superfund site, various issues pertaining to safety at Stepan Chemical's plant, and the federal government's own sordid conduct in Maywood's sad thorium mess.

For instance, the councilman repeatedly, and falsely, accused Nolan of providing "misinformation," even as Nolan proved many key points in citing language from the U.S. government's own documents

And as ELAC chairman, starting in 1995, while he was not an elected official, Richards tried to block Nolan from publicly addressing the body at its meetings. This, despite a requirement in ELAC's own ordinance calling for the body to work with residents in identifying community concerns.

Stepan supporters such as former Mayors Tom Murphy, James Panos (and potential borough-attorney-in-waiting William Rupp) are somewhat nervous over the possibility that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency will move to try and expand Stepan's financial liability for the entire project - in an effort to try and accelerate the cleanup timetable.

For the moment. these Stepan supporters have the ear of Rothman, who, by now, is well aware of Stepan's status as a one-time campaign donor to now-former federal lawmaker Torricelli and Richards' own questionable conduct relating to Stepan.

It could be that Stepan's historic supporters will have to "grit their teeth" and go along, assuming the federal government (a big if) tries securing more funding from Stepan for the entire project's final remediation.

If the feds do, expect to hear much talk from Richards and company about Stepan Chemical's newfound "benevolence."

Even agencies like the corps, the DOE, the EPA, the latter agency's beleaguered site manager (perhaps she's had no choice), as well as the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), have historically catered to Maywood's own troubling pro-Stepan elected officials (really, in both parties) under the most questionable of circumstances

And they have done so in a manner that - at least up to this point - has always seen Maywood lose out in the end.

It would appear that, at least based on what has been reported, these agencies and politicians, will - if only because they have no real choice - be forced to finally start taking a "pro-Maywood" bent after years of neglecting the community during this sordid affair

Still, when it comes to politics (most glaringly in Maywood), morality always gets the short shrift.

THE REALITY IS:

Even though Stepan's name gets underplayed, traditionally, in Bergen County's "mainstream" daily print press when it comes to thorium - using the guise, "Maywood Chemical Works" - the federal government has historically mentioned that Stepan has liability for both thorium and chemicals. It has cited the plant's direct liability even after Torricelli's infamous "DOE-Stepan agreement."

In a letter issued to a borough resident around 1986 (some three years after Torricelli''s dealings), Joyce Feldman, then an enforcement official with EPA's Region II office in New York, essentially stated that the company had major culpability. She explained that, under terms of the Superfund law, current site owners and operators can be held financially liable for cleaning up pollution generated by their predecessors.

Feldman insisted that Stepan met the definition for liability.

Feldman's letter mirrors the position that the EPA's Lawrence Diamond took in his letter to Stepan official John O’Brien, several months before Torricelli helped override this decision in 1983.

Diamond pointed out that Stepan was a "potentially responsible party" for "radioactive contamination" under Superfund as a current "owner/operator."


In response to this, then-Stepan lawyer Richard Jacobson replied that, even though Stepan questioned the extent of this liability. Stepan was prepared to pay to start a feasibility study evaluating the extent of the problem and was ready to hire a health physicist.

This all was completely negated after Torricelli, who publicly expressed doubts as to Stepan's full liability (even though the then-congressman was certainly aware of the EPA's earlier enforcement initiative) intervened.

And Stepan, which even profited by selling some of Maywood Chemical's old land - shrinking the size of what had been its predecessor's site - did not stumble on to this property (Maywood's commercially-zoned portion of the Superfund site) blindly.

It inherited the financial assets of Maywood Chemical in a 1960 stock transaction, and incorporated the old company into Stepan as "a division of" the plant. Stepan later buried some of Maywood Chemical's old toxic drums under its plant grounds.

C. DOES ANYONE IN BERGEN COUNTY'S "MAINSTREAM" DAILY PRINT MEDIA EVEN REMEMBER THE DOE, BECHTEL AND TORRICELLI?

WHAT WERE THEY DOING IN MAYWOOD DURING THE FIRST14 YEARS OF TORRICELLI'S "DOE-STEPAN AGREEMENT.”

MANY YEARS, AND HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (COULD IT BE OVER $300 MILLION?) LATER; THE FACT IS THE DOE COULD HAVE SELECTED 'UP AND OUT "- OR FULL EXCAVATION AND DISPOSAL- THE FINAL REMEDY THE CORPS HAS REPORTEDLY CHOSEN NOW, YEARS EARLIER.

MAYWOOD POLITICIANS, INCLUDING THE LATE FORMER REPUBLICAN MAYOR JOHN STEUERT AND RICHARDS, WERE MADE AWARE OF THIS.

Nolan long ago pointed out that the DOE - already in control of Maywood's thorium program under a highly questionable pretense - could have used "up and out" in excavating all of Maywood's soils - the same result the corps maintains it intends on using now - as early as the mid-1980s.

This startling revelation was contained in a memo the late resident received from an official working in EPA's Region II office in New York at the time. Nolan was told there was a massive amount of available space to permanently store all of Maywood's soil in a federally-operated disposal site known as Vitro.

This facility is not too far from the privately-held Envirocare site the corps is allegedly promising to utilize in disposing, presumably via rail, all of Maywood's remaining waste.

Nolan was told then that the DOE simply declined to use the option.

Thus, the DOE and contractor, Bechtel National Inc., subsequently decided to spend tens of millions of dollars to try finding ways to keep much of Maywood's waste in the community (while at the same time, either hiding or delaying release of a mandatory proposed plan). Pursuing this option, reportedly rejected only recently, represented a costly failure on their part.

D. WHEN IT HAS COME TO TRYING AND EXECUTE A FINAL CLEANUP PLAN FOR MAYWOOD (PHASE II COMMERCIAL SITES), IT CERTAINLY SEEMS, AS THOUGH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - PARTICULARLY ALLEN ROOS - THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS, MAYWOOD SITE MANAGER - HAS APPPLIED THE "COST-EFFECTIVENESS" TEST ONLY TO MAYWOOD.

WHAT YOU DIDN'T READ SEPT. 30. IS THAT TONS OF MONEY HAD ALREADY BEEN SPENT - QUESTIONABLY - IN CLEANING UP OTHER SITES (NAMELY, THE PHASE I RESIDENTIAL, AND THE ROCHELLE PARK BALLOD SITE) BEFORE THE CORPS EVER CAME INTO TOWN.

IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH NOW - AT LEAST IN READING BERGEN COUNTY'S "MAINSTREAM" DAILY PRESS’; THAT THE DOE, AND EVEN TORRICELLI, NEVER EXISTED.

THAT "MAINSTREAM" DAILY NEWSPAPER IN HACKENSACK:

Reported Sept. 30 that the corps spent roughly $174 million in Maywood since Congress transferred responsibility from the DOE in 1997.

THE REALITY IS:

Even hundreds of millions of dollars were previously spent (possibly even more than the amount spent by the corps) by the DOE. They were expended in addressing the smaller Phase I residential and Ballod commercial sites in Maywood, Lodi and Rochelle Park.

All during that time; the feds kept delaying action on the most important part of Maywood's cleanup.

And given the questionable nature of their presence in the community, one has to wonder how much of this largess was improperly expended - given Stepan Chemical's existing status as the big PRP - defined by the EPA - for thorium and chemicals.

For instance, Stepan paid nothing for undertaking the Phase I and Ballod cleanups -as performed by the corps and the DOE through Torricelli's earlier agreement.

This, despite the fact that various government reports indicated that thorium-tainted soil generated from its predecessor, Maywood Chemical, was used as fill under houses in Lodi and Maywood.

Also, was there a lot of unnecessary duplication - and government waste - due to Torricelli's earlier agreement shielding Stepan from having greater overall financial liability - and cleanup responsibility?

Even with this history, Roos and another corps official were quoted in that Sept. 30 published report as saying that the corps was obligated to try finding ways "to save the taxpayers money" in executing Maywood's final and permanent cleanup.

This "cost effectiveness test," applied selectively through the years. assuredly contributed to the federal government's minimum eight year delay in releasing a proposed plan to Maywoodians, and an additional 13-month delay in coming up with the Maywood thorium ROD,

Roos reportedly persisted on Sept. 30 in insisting that an estimated $10 million difference in costs between full excavation and treatment ($254 million to $244 million) would have made using soil separation an attractive, more cost-effective option - despite wide community opposition to the initiative.

Perhaps Roos was overruled by his superiors.

But, as you'll see in reading further, Maywood and its
citizenry were always held to a double-standard during the project, on issues such as evaluating "cost effectiveness," and in applying the Superfund law.

SECOND OF TWO PARTS

THE CORPS' PARTIAL THORIUM RECORD OF DECISION

SOME FACTS THAT THE CURRENT POLITICIANS - PARTICULARLY REP. STEVE ROTHMAN (D-9) AND DEMOCRATIC COUNCILMAN TOM RICHARDS - SIMPLY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW- - AND WHICH BERGEN COUNTY'S "MAINSTREAM DAILY PRINT ORGAN" EITHER CANNOT, OR SIMPLY REFUSES TO, EXPOSE

By Chris Neidenberg

E. BEFORE THIS GRAND ANNOUNCEMENT SEPT. 29 , WHEN DID ANYONE - THE DOE, THE CORPS THE EPA, OR MAYWOOD'S OWN ELECTED OFFICIALS. EVER REALLY CARE ABOUT MAYWOOD'S VITAL INTERESTS?

THE POLITICALLY IMPOTENT (AND VERY POLITICAL) EPA, WHICH HAS SUPPOSEDLY OVERSEEN THE DOE AND THE CORPS, CONSISTENTLY SEEMED TO COLLUDE WITH VARIOUS FEDERAL AGENCY BUREAUCRATS - AND MAYWOOD'S OWN POLITICIANS - IN TRYING TO MARGINALIZE THE COMMUNITY"S VOICE - AND IN WEAKENING MAYWOOD'S CLOUT IN THE FINALTHORIUM FIGHT.

THE EPA CERTAINLY APPEARED TO DO THIS IN A CALCULATED WAY, BY (WORKING HAND-IN-GLOVE WITH THE DOE AND THE CORPS), IN EVADING THE ROD REQUIREMENTS IT ONCE PROMISED WOULD BE APPLIED UNIVERSALLY TO ALL MAYWOOD AREA (PHASE I AND PHASE II) SITES.



INSTEAD. THE EPA ABANDONED ITS PRIOR PROMISE TO TREAT EVERYONE FAIRLY BY REQUIRING ONE COMPLETE THORIUM ROD - COVERING BOTH PHASES - AS IT EVEN ASSURED WOULD BE DONE IN VARIOUS GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS, AND FLIERS ISSUED TO THE COMMUNITY. THIS POLITICAL MOVE SEVERELY WEAKENED MAYWOOD.

ADDITIONALLY, THE EPA WORKED METHODICALLY TO PREVENT ANY ANALYSIS OF "COST-EFECTIVENESS" FOR CLEANUP PROPOSALS AFFECTING THE SMALLER NON-MAYWOOD SITES IN PHASE I (RESIDENTIAL) AND THE BALLOD COMMERCIAL PROPERTY.

IT (EPA) DID THIS BY REVOKING A REQUIREMENT THAT ALL THE PROPERTIES NEEDING CLEANUP BE SUBJECTED TO ONE REMEDIAL INVESTIGATION FEASIBILIRT STUDY, WHERE ALL CLEANUP ALTERNATIVES COULD BE ANALYZED BEFORE DOING ANY WORK.

YET THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ABANDONED THIS REQUIREMENT, AS THE SUPERFUND LAW SEEMINGLY MANDATED. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE EPA, DOE AND THE CORPS SPENT ABOUT NINE YEARS CLEANING UP PHASE I RESIDENTIAL SITES VIA "REMOVAL ACTIONS," (MOVING EVERYTHING FROM LODI AND ROCHELLE PARK INTO MAYWOOD) WHILE DELAYING THE RELEASE OF ANY PLAN TO CLEAN UP MOST OF MAYWOOD DURING THIS PERIOD.

ALL DURING THIS TIME, MAYWOOD'S REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC MAYORS, STEUERT, TOM MURPHY, WAYNE KUSS AND COUNCIL MEMBERS SUCH AS RICHARDS AND GAFFNEY, NEVER REALLY VOICED ANY CONCERNS OVER MAYWOOD'S SECOND=CLASS TREATNEBT.

THE EPA/DOE/CORPS CLEANUP DECISIONS WERE INSTEAD APPLIED INCONSISTENTLY AND PREDICATED ENTIRELY ON POLITICS.

AND THE INVOLVED FEDERAL AGENCIES CERTAINLY SEEMED ALIGNED WITH FORCES WHO CONSISTENTLY TRIED INTIMIDATING ANYONE DARING TO CRITICIZE STEPAN CHEMICAL COMPANY OR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS OWN POLITICALLY MISGUIDED EFFORTS.

THAT "MAINSTREAM" DAILY NEWSPAPER IN HACKENSACK:

Reported Sept. 30 that federal officials picked "up and out" for Maywood because they received a three-inch thick stack of letters, almost exclusively including comments supporting this option. The tone seemed to suggest that federal officials were always sympathetic to Maywood's concerns.

THE REALITY IS::

Federal officials, historically, never really cared that much about Maywood's feelings or long-term interests.

They essentially ignored local public opinion, as local elected officials kept turning a blind eye in a way that weakened their own community's voice..

Along the way, the federal government (particularly the EPA) never really did much in developing a community relations program to keep the public informed.

The DOE, in 1991, rejected the results of a non-binding referendum, where over 90 percent of borough voters backed demanding full excavation and permanent disposal of all of Maywood's soil. These voters also wanted to move any contamination found in Lodi and Rochelle Park directly from where the contamination was located - and bypass Maywood entirely.

The vast majority of residents demanded disposal of all foreign soil directly from their properties into an outside permanent storage site.

In fact, the DOE and the corps moved in the exact opposite direction in the ensuing years - trucking all outside soil into the MISS, even though there was a railroad track in close proximity to many of the contaminated Lodi properties.

The DOE's policy was continued by the corps, which around 1998-99 further evaded the ROD via cleaning up the Phase I sites under the premise of something called an Environmental Engineering Costs Analysis (EECA) document, a policy the DOE and Bechtel actually started.

True, the EECA allowed for written public comments. But it also enabled federal authorities to avoid undergoing the much more public process of holding a formal public hearing, as the proposed plan/ROD mandate under Superfund calls for.

Using this supposed regulation, the DOE essentially rejected the concerns of a good deal of Maywood residents who signed a petition and wrote letters demanding that the corps take a radically different approach.

These residents wanted the corps to uphold the federal government's earlier promise to issue one proposed plan and finally issue the ROD for both phases of the overall thorium cleanup, prior to doing any work.

All during this time, the federal government, in a slap in the face to Maywood, kept evading issuing the thorium ROD while doing cleanup work. And the feds stoll have said nothing about the status of Stepan's own chemical ROD.

Maywood's road was made even rougher, and the cleanup process seemed to become most politicized, once Clinton-era Democratic Regional Adminsistrator Jeanne Fox moved to take over the New York office in 1994.

Fox took the federal post overseeing Region II after serving for a time as state DEP commissioner under one-time Gov. James Florio.

Simply put, the EPA, under Fox, significantly weakened Matwood's voice and influence over the next nine years. It did this via literally, and rather arrogantly, "changing the rules in the middle of the game."

The chief rogue and architect of the policy strangling Maywood was Fox' deputy, and career EPA official, Kathleen Callahan (who has since been promoted), then-head of the New York region's Office of Emergency and Remedial Response.

The DOE was apparently getting ready to issue a complete proposed plan covering both phases of the entire Maywood area site, under the requirements of the Superfund law, and as community activists wanted. Fox, in fact, issued a letter under her name assuring that this would happen.

Yet around 1994, things changed for the worse as Fox shifted gears for some strange reason. Callahan began implementing Fox' objecttives on abandoning the proposed plan-ROD process in weakening Maywood.

She did this via suddenly decreeing that the DOE enjoyed "unilateral authority" to essentially do whatever it wanted, This, even as its whole reason for being in Maywood was based on a very shaky premise resulting from a political agreement negotiated by then-Congressman Torricellli.

Callahan issued an opinion that the DOE could undertake "removal actions" at the Phase I sites, under the guise of Executive Order 12580. This order essentially held that federal agencies/departments could implement environmental cleanups to handle "emergent" matters, such as where public health seemed to be most at risk.

The DOE in Maywood, under the direction of then-controversial Site Manager Susan Cange, interpreted this ruling as allowing the department to remove contamination from under houses in Lodi and trucking it into Maywood. The DOE tried creating the premise that residents living under contamination in houses faced "near-term" risks.

In implementing this objective, Cange held a series of secretive meeting. with certain elected officials, including Steuert, and then-Democratic Councilwoman Joan Winnie.

There was only one problem - and a serious and glaring inconsistency - with this (prioritizing residential cleanups) premise.

Based on the DOE's past history, the department never seemed that concerned about prioritizing removing contamination located under Lodi homes.

Around 1985, the department left contamination under many homes in Lodi as it moved with Bechtel in initiating cleanup of the first portion of the vacant Ballod Associates property in Rochelle Park, zoned entirely for commercial use.


To do this, the DOE sought the permission of the Maywood governing body, controlled by the Democrats at the time under Mayor James Panos, given it needed to relocate the waste into the Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS).

Richards himself played a role in swaying his Democratic colleagues (Panos and then Council Members Harry Hillenius and Karen Mitchell) to go along with this move, despite Republican objections.

Though Richards has tried maintaining that he was always concerned about protecting the health of Lodi residents (in using the MISS for interim storage), the fact is roughly 90 percent of the MISS' first wave of contamination came from the commercially-zoned and vacant Ballod site with a a small smattering of Lodi and Maywood residential-based contamination thrown into the mix.

This move touched off a firestorm of controversy, as Maywood's Republicans (who later relented and started colluding with the Democrats) initially decried that they were generally opposed to the interim storage of any radioactive materials trucked in from outside the community.

Borough Democrats - as their move to take in the Ballod waste over many Lodi houses proved - falsely asserted that the cleanup had to be prioritized on the premise that Lodi residents living in these houses needed protection.

The Ballod property was owned by a group that included well-connected Bergen County Republicans J. Fletcher Creamer (a big bucks campaign donor) and John Schepiisi, former county Republican chairman. With former Maywood school district auditor Moses Sternlieb, this group profited handsomely from the Ballod cleanup - which the DOE initiated based on  a request from Torricelli (Richards longtime ally) - at Maywood's expense.

The cleanup helped the Ballod group sell the land, which was eventually developed into the Bristol Manor Nursing Home. This waste, dubbed derisively as "Torricelli Hill" or "Mt. Torricelli," due to the then-lawmaker's intervention creating this big contaminated pile, essentially sat under a tarp cover near homes on West Central Avenue for at least another nine years.

Many years later, Democrat Torricelli's connections with Republicans Schepisi and Creamer, who he earlier aided at Maywood's expense in lobbying for the Ballod cleanup, remained strong.

Schepisi and Creamer have been partners in Bergen County's Bridgeview Bank - where Torricelli was once suspected of keeping questionable campaign funds donated by Cresskill businessman David Chang.

In 2001, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Mary Jo White, subpoenaed bank records concerning Torricelli's account during her investigation into the Chang/Torricelli affair. The probe ultimately led to Torricelli's political downfall and landed Chang in jail..

For sure, the curious Ballod precedent raises questions over the legitimacy of Callalhan's later decision asserting that the DOE could abandon the proposed plan/ROD process in initiating "removal actions" based on "residential" health concerns.

When the corps took control of the project from the DOE six years ago, it basically continued evading the ROD, as allowed by the EPA, for entirely different reasons than its predecessor earlier cited (protectring human health) under Executive Order 12580.

The corps, under Site Managers Ben Wood (1997-98) and Roos (1998 until now) essentially asserted that it enjoyed "unilateral authority" in doing whatever it wanted for whatever reason.. It never cited Executive Order 12580 as the pretext.

Perhaps the best example of this was Roos' contention that the corps could initiate some of the cleanup work without a ROD affecting Phase II properties near Route 17 to assist the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT has started work to widen the state highway, and to rehabilitate the Essex Street Bridge. It began this policy in 2001, when it again issued an EECA for portions of some properties, including the Sears Distribution Center.

Yet all during its tenure, the EPA criticized the corps for needlessly prolonging the process of developing a proposed plan addressing radiological waste. The plan was not completed until almost five years after the start of the corps' Maywood tenure - and over 20 years after Torricelli's deal limiting Stepan's liability.

And in failing to issue one common remedial investigation feasibility study to analyze cleanup alternatives under both Phases I and II, instead limiting the requirement only to the larger second phase of greater interest to Maywood, the corps and the DOE (as the EPA allowed) continued discriminating against the borough. It again reneged on a prior pledge to the community.

This political decision prevented Maywood residents from evaluating the "cost effectiveness" of all potential cleanup altermatives affecting the first phase.

Conceivably, Maywoodians could have had the chance to compare the costs/benefits of excavating all the Phase I residential and Ballod commercial wastes and transporting them through Maywood streets to the MISS for shipment to Utah, to treating them through "soil separation," via using some New Jersey facility or property. The DOE and the corps refused to do this.

Ultimately, the corps and the DOE limited evaluating "cost effectiveness" only to the bigger Maywood commercial sites (and some smaller Lodi properties) in Phase II, imposing a double standard and discriminating against Maywood residents.

One factor that has helped the DOE and the corps stretch the whole Maywood scenario out, even when the EPA objected, is the fact that the DOE and the corps (through the U.S. Department of Defense) have presidential Cabinet-rank status in the complex federal bureaucracy.

This fact gives these agencies somewhat more power than the EPA, an independent agency that is not part of the Cabinet.

Yet certainly, Roos and his corps colleagues are well aware as the EPA has been all along) of the fact that their power was derived solely from Torricelli's original agreement that obstructed federal law enforcement actions against - and financially benefited - his campaign donor, Stepan Chemical.

If it was not for this agreement (strongly supported by chief Stepan ally Richards), Stepan today would have retained sole financial liability for cleaning up thorium and chemicals affecting approximately 80 area properties in one combined cleanup action.

Stepan would have been required to issue one proposed plan, ideally leading to a ROD before any cleanup work could start.

And, today, Stepan would be acting solely under the authority of the EPA as the chief PRP for thorium and chemicals.

The DOE and the corps would have never even existed at the local level in Maywood, if not for the political deal Torricelli struck on Stepan's behalf.

Roos, when once asked about the Maywood site's highly troubled history, simply replied that this history was not a concern of the corps.

The corps, in fact, continued many of the DOE' s and the EPA's questionable practices.

Such a response, however, raises valid questions as to whether the corps - since 1997 - has engaged in a continued Maywood coverup on the federal government's behalf.


F. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS CONCLUSIVELY SHOW THAT THE PROPOSED THORIUM CLEANUP PLAN MOST AFFECTING MAYWOOD (PHASE II COMMERCIAL) WAS EITHER HIDDEN OR WITHELD FROM THE COMMUNITY - WITHOUT ANY OBJECTION FROM THE MAYWOOD GOVERNING BODY - FOR AT LEAST EIGHT YEARS AND MAYBE EVEN LONGER.

In 1994, the DOE advertised in a local weekly newspaper that it was getting ready to convene a public hearing on both phases of a proposed plan affecting the radiological cleanup of the Maywood area sites before initiating any remedial action, as the Superfund law seemingly required.

That is, before some kind of strange political intervention involving the EPA halted the process, led to the DOE's canceling the hearing and triggered questionable actions that were subsequently undertaken over the ensuing nine years, much to Maywood's detriment (as explained previously);.

Two key documents, secured by Nolan and which he periodically presented before the council, without receiving any kind of response. prove this.

In 1993, Nolan received a reply from Albert Johnson, then a DOE remedial engineer, stating that the department was developing a proposed plan addressing the cleanup of radiological waste under two separate (residential and commercial) phases, based on "a firm understanding of community concerns." Johnson told Nolan that the DOE's understanding was based on the resukts of a series of "public information availability sessions" convened by Cange in 1993.

Yet this proposed plan never came, as cleanup decisions became very politicized, thanks to the EPA's poor oversight.

In 1994, Nolan secured a quarterly progress report from the EPA. It stated that "the draft proposed plan/feasibility study" affecting radiological contamination at the Maywood sites was "on hold due to community concerns over soil washing."

These " community concerns," in fact, were not finally addressed by the federal government for another eight years, until Aug. 28, 2002. At that time, the corps finally convened a public hearing on a proposed plan affecting that cleanup

IN CONCLUSION:

WE KNOW THAT THE DOE, AS EARLY AS 1994, WAS GETTING READY TO.ISSUE A PROPOSED PLAN FOR CLEANING UP ALL THORIUM AFFECTING BOTH PHASES OF THE MAYWOOD AREA CLEANUP, IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE SUPERFUND LAW, BEFORE INITIATING CLEANUP OF BOTH PHASES.

YET WHEN JEANNE FOX, A DEMOCRATIC APPOINTEE IN CHARGE OF EPA’S REGION II OFFICE IN NEW YORK TOOK CHARGE, THIS DIRECTIVE WAS MYSTERIOUSLY RESCINDED, AND SOME STRANGE THINGS STARTED
HAPPENING.

IN 1994, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESCINDED USING THE PROPOSED PLAN/ROD REQUIREMENT FOR THE PHASE I AND BALLOD COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES AND SIMPLY STARTED SHIPPING THESE WASTES INTO MAYWOOD, BUT WHILE CONCEALING AND STALLING ON RELEASING THE BULK OF MAYWOOD’S OWN PLAN (AFECTONG PHASE II COMMERCIAL SITES) FOR ANOTHER EIGHT YEARS.

THIS POLICY SEVERELY WEAKENED MAYWOOD.

YET, ALL DURING THIS TIME, MAYWOOD’S OWN STRANGE ELECTED OFFICIALS WENT ALONG WITH THIS POLICY THAT WEAKENED THEIR OWN COMMUNITY’S VOICE IN THE CLEANUP FIGHT.

THE KEY QUESTION IS, WHY DID THE MAYWOOD GOVERNING BODY, ACTING AS AGENTS FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, MOVE TO HURT AND WEAKEN THEIR COMMUNITY?

AND WHY DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ARROGANTLY MOVE TO HARM MAYWOOD’S LONG-TERM INTERESTS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

FOR SURE, YOU WILL LIKRLY NEVER SEE THESE POINYS BROUGHT OUT IN BERGEN COUNTY'S “ POLITICIZED MAINSTREAM” DAILY PRINT MEDIA.

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