How many times have you gotten away with answering most any question with: "I don't know." When you really did know but didn't want to say, or didn't think it would matter if you did.
There are very few times we are formally given permission to share how we really feel or to voice an opinion. One example is when we are asked by a preacher in a wedding ceremony, "if anyone can show just cause why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace ..." I haven't ever heard an objection voiced aloud, but looking around at the faces that have been present I must say there have been times, objections seemed imminent.
But generally speaking we rarely get chances to tell officials how we really feel. Which leads me to this important announcement: EPA is asking for comments from the public, that's US! The agency wants our opinions on their Human Health Risk Assessment for the Tar Creek Superfund site. The narrow focus of their work will provide a guide to the cleanup they will perform, perhaps for the next 30 years.
Do you want a real cleanup in Ottawa County? Maybe you think we already have gotten one and what's been done was good enough.
I was listening to a COVID webinar entitled "Returning to K-12 Education - Using Science to Keep Children, Teachers and Staff Safe." A speaker from Denmark explained shutting down their country worked because as a country, they have a history of cooperation and mutual respect. They cooperated in mass and trusted each other to abide by the standards and requirements. when they reopened schools, there were only 300 cases in their whole country.
We don't trust anymore. We do not have a culture of cooperation or a mutual respect for each other or the general public. Think about that. We have lost trust. Trust in each other and certainly we have lost trust in our government. That was easy to do here at the Tar Creek Superfund site, When they were going to get right to it, find money and began doing work, sometimes flawed, always with more, much more to do.
Sometimes we can do it over until we get it right. Overs. You probably never played jacks, but back in the day, it was a game a girl could play by herself or with a friend, using these metal stars and a bouncing ball. One of the options you had allowed you to get "Overs." EPA needs to get right with our county and the downstreamers and do Overs on their OU5 HHRA.
We deserve it. If they are going to commit big bucks to cleaning up this site and protecting the future exposure of children we can wait a while, our kids are worth it. Their grandchildren and theirs are worth getting this right. EPA will never undo work here, this is our chance to ask them to regroup, reexamine their plan and give it another try. Lead Agency is submitting comments to EPA. A list follows. We believe they can do better.
1. LEAD Agency believes that the RI does not reflect all the contamination found within OU-5. EPA has largely ignored comments from, and data collected by, tribal stakeholders and LEAD Agency during the Remedial Investigation process.
2. EPA has failed to consider the contaminated Boone Aquifer as a source of potential human health exposure in the HHRA.
3. EPA has failed to consider the watersheds’ historical floodplains as a source of potential human health exposure.
4. EPA’s decision to ignore numerous contamination sources within OU-5 has led to an HHRA that is un-usable as a tool for protecting human health or developing an effective cleanup plan.
5. EPA’s decision to draw a vast boundary for OU-5 artificially dilutes the nature and extent of contamination currently damaging ecological health, ecological health, and tribal cultures.
6. This HHRA reflects a decades-long pattern by EPA of putting off to some indefinite “later” human health risks that cut across OU boundaries. It is time for EPA to acknowledge and remedy these systemic flaws by reassessing its conceptual site model and creating new site-wide OUs to directly address the most pernicious and persistent risks to human and environmental health.
7. The HHRA should be held in abeyance until the EPA reassesses all Tar Creek OU’s and creates such additional OU’s as are necessary to address sitewide human and environmental health hazards consistently excluded from treatment within individual OU’s. Only after this reassessment should the EPA re-do the RI and HHRA for OU-5.
8. As part of its sitewide review, the EPA should create a new Operable Unit that includes Grand Lake and incorporate Grand Lake contamination in the OU5 RI and HHRA
Groups you belong to like: Rotary, Lions Club, bowling league, softball team moms, could get on the phone, or meet in the backyard and decide to say something. You have until August 17. Check www.leadagency.org for details.
Or forever hold your peace.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim