This lifelong learner is at the half-way point on the Indigenous Agriculture & Permaculture class and this week the emphasis has been on energy, so when Brad Mitchell the chimney-sweep known for the care he gives to protecting those of us who heat with wood by making sure our chimneys have been cleaned well enough we won't be having flue fires in the middle of February. But the instructor discussing energy, Kelda Lorax made me remember things we had done in the past, like the winter we all lost electricity during the ice-age that settled in on this territory in those back to back winters...back in oh-seven.
Since the real weather will be heading our way soon, having the chimney clean, the stove set right, then organizing the wood and making sure the kindling gathered is kept dry for easy lighting, let me turn to a few easy tricks. Several years ago I got to go to the old Cherokee homelands and along one of the rivers, if you slowed down, all you would see from bank to bank were stones just right for grinding corn, all sizes of them, some just right for giants, some for the Little People. I stopped and asked the river for permission to bring 3 home with me and they will set near the fire this winter, and they will radiate heat long after the fire burns out.
My mother used to say her mother would put warmed bricks in bed with her and her sisters. Why not try that? I wonder what time during the night that our bodies begin to be what keeps the bricks warm until morning?
Learner, may not be the right descriptor, it could be I was born to questions, I might really be an answer-seeker, but thinking about the issues here at Tar Creek made me think about all the energy being used to fix it. But what if some of that energy goes for naught?
We are midway through LEAD and WMAN's Virtual Conference and this week on Zoom I met 2 more of the technical advisors who have saddled up with us in this quest for answers at the Tar Creek Superfund Site and boy did I get some good ammunition: loads of stuff to add to my questions to EPA and the other federal and state agencies who are managing the reins of what is happening for keeps here. I heard Jim Kuipers explain the term that had only ever been words on a page: Conceptual Site Model. What you get once you figure out the model, you will be able to see the FATE of what you are trying to get rid of at a polluted site. After the work is done and the workers sent home, the fate of that stuff? It should be GONE.
All these years at this Superfund site, that is exactly what has been so disappointing. The darn stuff in the "piles" isn't all gone, the stuff floating down stream hasn't gone away, it is still flowing those same metals. You can watch it. One million gallons a day. And if you stand still you can see the dust whirl by you.
So the term that made the bells ring for me and if put to use after it is designed is:
A conceptual site model is a written and/or illustrative representation of the conditions and the physical, chemical and biological processes that control the transport, migration and potential impacts of contamination (in soil, air, ground water, surface water and/or sediments) to human and/or ecological receptors.
Want to know why after all these years we are not done with the superfund mess?
You can't get done if the model had flaws to begin with.
EPA failed to consider groundwater (Boone Aquifer) as a pathway to what they term "the contaminants of concern." What's in that aquifer doesn't always stay in it because of use by rural well-water users, while some flows out at naturally occurring springs that may be used by landowners and those who use the water for traditional practices. Some of it is finding its way down into the aquifer the towns and county water districts are pulling water for our homes. Surface water and groundwater contamination continues unabated.
EPA failed to consider all of the watersheds’ historical floodplains as a waste spreader for residential, recreational, commercial, wetland, and farmland during recurring flooding events by surface water, groundwater, and surface mining waste sources (tailing ponds and chat piles) over decades.
Our waters flow to Grand Lake and chat goes with it so EPA needs to loop the lake into this work if we ever want done to happen, but it's not on the table. SO FAR.
EPA , FERC, GRDA and the Army Corps of Engineers, need to conserve energy, and get started on fixing the conceptual site model that will ultimately ... make flooding in Miami change and settle the FATE of our metals.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
To read more of LEAD's comments to EPA: