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Special Metals Paid $110,024 Penalty for Disposing 646,000 pounds of Hazardous Chromium Rinse Water; High Levels of Carcinogenic Erin Brockovich Chemical One Concern of Alleged Violation(s)
Manifests for May 31, June 1 and June 2, 2007 showed that 646 thousand pounds of hazardous waste were delivered to Huntington by Veoila Environmental Services. “Hazardous chromium rinse water waste from those dates was placed into a non-permitted concrete sump/lift station ,” the court documents state. “This would be a violation of 40 C.F.R. 270.1 (c) because the company received off-site hazardous waste that was treated and disposed within a non-permitted unit.”
The permitted spent acid reclaim tank has a capacity of 53,000 gallons. However, the waste delivered from Burnaugh “exceeded the volume of the reclaim tank,” the documents state.
During the inspection “used oil” was observed “spilled” next to an above ground storage tank in front of a Lab Machine Shop and Truck Wash. At the same time, five 55 gallon drums were NOT labeled or marked “used oil.” Eugene Peters, Safety Health and Environmental Manager for the company indicated to inspectors that the contents were “used oil” and that “the contents would be disposed of properly.”
On March 26, 2008 Environmental Inspector James A. Peterson and Supervisor, Christopher M. Gatens reviewed hazardous waste manifests associated with Special Metals Corporation. Multiple manifests stated, “RQ Hazardous Waste, Liquid, N.O.S. (Contains Chromium) (D007).”
Driver Steve Baker stated that he brought the hazardous waste to three different disposal locations at the Huntington facility. They were: A Spent Acid –Reclaim Tank, a Concrete Sump/Lift Station by the Cold Draw facility, and the #2 Rinse Tank. The documents state, “the only Resource Conservation & Recovery Act permitted site to receive off-site D007 hazardous waste by tanker truck is the spent acid-reclaim tank.” (The RCRA protects human health and the environment.)
HNN expanded an investigation into waste in and around the Special Metals /Huntington Alloys facility following a September 1, 2013 article in the Herald Dispatch in which an apparently “leaked” Draft Consent Order from the Huntington Sanitary Board imposed about $250,000 in fines upon Special Metals. The documents still unrevealed to the public contain alleged violations dating back to 1999, according to Herald Dispatch interviews. High chromium, nickel and mercury violation levels were named in the HD story. (Editor's Note: No connection to city tap water has been made or revealed.)
No member of the Huntington Sanitary Board, Alex Vence, Garry Black, and Board Chairman, Mayor Steve Williams was aware of the draft order prior to its release to the newspaper. It's release followed the unexpected resignation of HSB Executive Director Kit Anderson during an often uncovered by media board meeting in August. An interim director has since been named by Mayor Williams.
An August 15, 2013, letter to Keith Dobbs, vice president and general manager of Special Metals, signed by two HSB employees --- unknown to board members --- stated: "Some of the violations which we allege endanger or have endangered water quality, human health and/or the proper functioning of the Board's facilities."
Learning of the contents of the Circuit Court action, HNN filed numerous freedom of information act requests with the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection and contacted US EPA.
Coincidentally, on Friday, September 6, 2013, a legal notice appeared in the Herald Dispatch concerning a Voluntary Remediation Plan related to “historic” uses of the plant. After the documents were not received by the Cabell County Public Library for public inspection, HNN contacted the WV DEP office of Environmental Remediation in Oak Hill, WV.
An inspection of the documents on file do not reveal that existence of the Atomic Energy Commission leased Huntington Pilot Plant (a.k.a. Reduction Pilot Plant), which conducted uranium and nickel processing and recycling for the nation’s three gaseous diffusion plants at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Piketon, Ohio (Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant), and Paducah (Kentucky) Gaseous Diffusion Plant. HPP operated at the Huntington plant from about 1952 until 1962 and 1978-1979. The facility remained in “cold stand by” from 1962 until 1978 at which time it was dismantled and transported by open trucks to a burial site on the ground of the Piketon plant. At the time of its burial, the contaminants and materials buried were classified. Trucks, air conditioners, and other equipment involved in the transport were buried, too, based on interviews with two then machine gun armed guards.
Following burial, the a portion of the contents leached off-site into Beaver Creek and eventually contaminated a nearby aquifer, according to public documents and Vina Colley, president of PRESS and a former Piketon plant employee.
For a report from 2010/2011 by ABC TV and the Environmental Working Group, visit, http://www.ewg.org/chromium6-in-tap-water . (Water in Huntington was not tested, the report said.) You can download the EWG report as a pdf by clicking Attachment below. The ABC report can be found at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/drinking-water-epa-issues-recommendations-m... . A course on chromium, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/chromium/docs/chromium.pdf . Sinus conditions, unexplained weight loss, allergies, respiratory conditions, chills, and the possibility of lung cancer come from exposures.
"For years, scientists assumed this wasn't a problem because acids in our stomachs can convert chromium-6 into chromium-3, an essential nutrient," said Rebecca Sutton, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group in a Chicago Tribune interview. "Newer science is showing our stomachs can't take care of everything, which means the dangerous form of chromium is getting into our bodies and can cause damage."
By contrast, Lon Couillard, water quality manager in Milwaukee, said that the environmental group was "trying to scare people."
- Chromium in Tap Water Report (1.21 MB)