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Project on Government Oversight

Written Statements of Community Members Participating in the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue

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January 14, 2003 | By: Danielle Brian

Citizens from communities with Superfund and other hazardous waste sites came to Washington, DC on January 14, 2003 to speak about their experiences with the EPA and the need for a strong and independent Ombudsman Office.

To read a Press Advisory on this event, click here.

Following are the written testimonies. Click on the links below to go directly to an individual or scroll down.

Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL)
Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Congerssman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Thomas Devine, Legal Director, Government Accountability Project (GAP)
Sandra Jaquith, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Site Specific Advisory Board
Rochelle Kalish, Executive Board Member, Stuyvesant High School
Chuck Lehr, President of Pinellas-Pasco Technical Assistance Grant (Pi-Pa TAG)
Patty Martin, Silver Valley People's Action Coalition
Neighborhood Environmental Watch
Jenna Orkin, Stuyvesant High School, Ground Zero Parent
Daniel Parshley, Glynn Environmental Coalition
Deborah Sanchez, Administrator, Overland Neighborhood Environmental Watch
Susan Shortz, President of Halt Environmental Lead Pollution (HELP)
Margaret Williams, Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE)
Terry Witsaman, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township, Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund Site


Written Statement of Danielle Brian, Executive Director,
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


The Project On Government Oversight strongly supports legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate to create an independent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Ombudsman Office and provide it with the necessary resources and expanded investigative authority.

This legislation, being reintroduced today in both the House and Senate, is a step in the right direction towards ensuring justice for the communities. It would create a stronger version of the embattled office that was effectively dismantled last year when it was transferred by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to the agency's Office of Inspector General. Promises that EPA's IG would conduct investigations at Superfund and other hazardous waste sites have not been kept.

The EPA, by stripping the Ombudsman of his power, has left the communities without a voice in the cleanup process. Meanwhile, the EPA has relied on the polluters and bad science to deal with the hazardous waste in these communities. A strong independent ombudsman has been the only available tool for communities whose concerns have been ignored by the EPA..

The proposed office would be directed by the National Ombudsman who would be appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate, and who would report directly to the EPA Administrator and Congress. Furthermore, the legislation would provide independence for the office by giving the Ombudsman authority to choose which cases he takes on, as well as supervisory authority over staffing and budgetary resources, and by providing federal whistleblower protections.

As we have repeatedly heard today, the EPA's promises have been hollow while the Superfund communities suffer. The 10 communities represented here are only a small percentage of the full number around the country.

POGO commends the bipartisan group of legislators working to create this very important post. They include Senators Michael Crapo (R-ID), James Jeffords (I-VT) and Wayne Allard (R-CO); and, Representatives Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). POGO pledges to lend assistance to the legislative leadership working hard to ensure that the Ombudsman Office can do what it is supposed to do – investigate complains of inadequacies in the EPA's handling of Superfund sites and suggest remedies to the problems it finds.

POGO first became aware of problems with the EPA's National Ombudsman program five years ago when citizens from Lake Township, Ohio, raised legitimate concerns at the town's Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund site. The citizens, and later POGO, requested a National Ombudsman review of the allegations, requests that were turned down by the EPA.


Written Statement of Thomas Devine, Legal Director,
Government Accountability Project (GAP)
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


Today's forum is a badly-needed opportunity for congressional oversight, and a forum for community leaders who believe their voices no longer are heard by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on issues with life and death stakes for their families. More specifically, it is a chance for affected citizens to blow the whistle on empty promises by their government. Those who bear witness today will arm Congress with evidence to hold EPA accountable for bad faith commitments of stepped-up service by its reorganized ombudsman, made in House and Senate hearings last summer.

Hopefully, today's record will be the foundation for quick congressional action to pass legislation creating an independent statutory EPA ombudsman, independent and safe from political pressures and retaliation that have plagued the office whenever it has been effective in making a difference against political abuses of power. Last year a federal judge found a substantial likelihood that the previous National Ombudsman office led by Mr. Martin was abolished in retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment free speech rights. The controversy involved alleged conflicts of interest by the agency administrator, precisely when the public most needs an independent ombudsman on the job.

There is little question that the current EPA structure flunks the laugh test for a credible ombudsman, even if it did not have a history of obstructing ombudsman investigations. Last fall the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded it would undermine prior recommendations for a strengthened office that EPA had insisted it was carrying out by relocating it, to the point where basic ombudsman duties have been legally barred in the new home for ombudsman work. By contrast, S. 606 as approved by the Senate is outstanding good government legislation. It meets the standards of the model ombudsman program recommended by the Organization of American States to implement its Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

One flaw must be corrected, however, to secure a safe channel for the free flow of information to the ombudsman, which is the lifeblood for any government agency to operate effectively. Due to a technical drafting mistake, the whistleblower protection clause of the bill references a 1992 law enacted to help nuclear power workers. While well intentioned at the time, Congress has learned many lessons in the intervening decade. In particular, the administrative process that adjudicates nuclear whistleblower cases has been plagued by backlogs that commonly exceeds three years, and in some cases have extended over a decade - as long as the statute has been in existence. Last summer Congress corrected that problem in the Sarbanes-Oxley law's whistleblower provision. Like Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) cases, those who do not receive a decision in 180 days can file an action in district court, where they can seek injunctive relief for cases that threaten to drag out. This frees whistleblowers from being prisoners of an administrative law process commonly known as the "black hole."

The bottom line in correcting this technical mistake is that it would turn exercising rights from a time-consuming exercise in frustration, to a genuine chance for justice. In order to better fight corporate crime, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower law with a near-unanimous mandate. Defending America's communities against potentially fatal toxic threats deserves just as effective protection.

Finally, today's forum is the chance to test a hybrid model for government accountability - citizen ombudsmen teaming up with those in Congress who care, when normal agency channels to break citizen-agency impasses are either compromised or unresponsive. Hopefully, this event will help to - 1) break an impasse on Superfund cleanups that has existed throughout the current EPA administrator's term; and 2) establish a new model creating a voice for disenfranchised citizens. As referenced earlier, GAP's attached Senate testimony from last summer provides context for these views.

July 15, 2002

The Honorable James F. Jeffords, Chairman
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-6175

Dear Senator Jeffords,

Thank you for inviting the Government Accountability Project's ("GAP") written testimony on S. 606, legislation to reauthorize the Office of the Ombudsman at the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). This well-intentioned legislation is an opportunity to achieve significant, long-term structural good government reform by learning and applying lessons from the current debacle at EPA. After being reconstituted in EPA's Office of Inspector General, the Ombudsman no longer resembles that concept as it has been authoritatively defined to date. Because S. 606 was drafted before the agency abandoned all preexisting professional standards for an ombudsman, the bill will need further modification to meet this unique challenge.

GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest law firm that assists whistleblowers, those employees who exercise freedom of speech to challenge abuses of power that betray the public trust. As GAP's legal director, I represent former National Ombudsman Robert Martin. Besides representing clients, GAP has accumulated 25 years expertise learning about employment retaliation by counseling over 3,000 employees seeking help against harassment. We have steadily monitored implementation of whistleblower laws, and shared both our academic and anecdotal research through articles in the popular media, as well as law reviews and publications. See, e.g., The Whistleblower's Survival Guide: Courage Without Martrydom, (Fund for Constitutional Government: 1997); "The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989: Foundation for the Modern Law of Dissent," 51 Administrative Law Review (1999). We led outside campaigns for passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, and numerous laws providing analogous protection for private sector employees in industries ranging from aviation to nuclear power.

Of particular interest, GAP teamed with American University Law School to draft a model whistleblower protection law for the Organization of American States (OAS) to implement its Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. The model law relies heavily on a carefully structured Office of Ombudsman to achieve the law's dual anti-retaliation and anti-corruption objectives. The proposal was based on professional standards from the U.S. Ombudsman Association and the American Bar Association. Relevant ombudsman provisions of the model law and corresponding explanatory notes are enclosed as Exhibit 1. In November 2000 the OAS adopted the model law. Last fall the U.S. Senate ratified the Inter-American Convention.

There are three purposes for this testimony: 1) Survey the public policy impact from EPA's interruption of 24 pending cases under active investigation by former Ombudsman Robert Martin when his office was abolished. 2) Assess the credibility of EPA's hostile takeover of Mr. Martin's program by merging it into the agency Office of Inspector general. 3) Recommend adjustments to S. 606 to maximize its legitimacy as a structure to improve on the EPA Ombudsman's prior, outstanding track record. Prior to its abolition, the Office had a phenomenal record of achieving mutually agreeable resolution to some 80% of disputes where local leaders and citizen organizations had reached an impasse on disputes about costs and public health hazards associated with Superfund and other toxic waste disposal.

Public Policy Impact From Abolishing Independent EPA Ombudsman

The alleged retaliatory reassignment and forced resignation of EPA National Ombudsman Robert Martin is far more than an employment dispute. It has serious consequences for citizens who believe the agency illegally has permitted public health hazards to threaten their communities from hazards in Superfund and toxic waste sites.

In April when he was forced to resign, Mr. Martin was pursuing and seeking resolution of more than two dozen cases at the request of citizen organizations and congressional offices. In each case, the communities had reached an impasse with normal EPA channels, and the Ombudsman was their last resort. During his decade in office, after investigations, public hearings sometimes hosted by Members of Congress and subsequent mediation efforts, Mr. Martin has broken the deadlocks to reach mutually acceptable resolution in some 80% of his cases.

Since reassignment of the Ombudsman function to EPA's Office of Inspector General ("OIG") and Mr. Martin's forced resignation, however, there has been no further progress on any of the cases. The OIG has made no efforts to work with Mr. Martin as a transition to renewed efforts. The citizens' accountability lifeline has been cut. Mr. Martin's goal in his Whistleblower Protection Act case is to return for a fixed time period to complete the work that he started on pending cases. The list below is a sampling of cases that have been functionally killed.

Alberton, Montana This Montana town suffered a disastrous train wreck five years ago that caused widespread chlorine contamination. It has caused health consequences such as blackouts, sexual dysfunction, memory loss and respiratory breakdowns. When he was removed, the Ombudsman was using videotape of the train's location to challenge EPA assertions that the toxic train could not be found. The search has been halted.

Tarpon Springs, Florida After the EPA had decided to pile up and leave asbestos, phosphates and radioactive wastes for storage in the community, at the request of Representative Bilrakis Ombudsman Martin analyzed the storage site. He found that it was an area prone to sinkholes, and on top of an aquifer that provides drinking water for two counties. As a result, EPA withdrew its remedy to leave the toxic wastes, and withdrew an associated consent decree. Ombudsman Martin was actively negotiating a new solution when his office was abolished.

Northern Idaho In this Coeur d'Alene basin, residents protested that the agency is not requiring Union Pacific to pay for its share of a $1/2-4 billion cleanup cost, although it is responsible for lead spills thousands of times above safe levels. The lead is contaminating rail and bike paths, to the extent motorists are still warned about leaving their cars to fix flat tires. At the request of the Idaho congressional delegation, Ombudsman Martin was pursuing the case when efforts were halted by his removal. It remains dormant.

Pensacola, Florida Area congressmen and municipal officials from this poor African American community asked for Ombudsman Martin's assistance when EPA decided not to remove toxic wastes contaminated with dioxin. This case was pending when the Ombudsman was removed.

Riviera Beach, Florida Four area congressmen and the mayor of this poor African American community near West Palm Beach asked the Ombudsman to open a case, because the town's drinking water is contaminated by industrial solvents such as trichlorine ethylene. Residents protested that EPA was requiring the municipality to foot the two million dollar annual cleanup cost for Honeywell's pollution. Last fall the Ombudsman successfully negotiated a solution to obtain funding from within EPA, but progress has now halted without any action to hold Honeywell responsible.

Shattuck, Colorado This site near Denver stored radioactive wastes that could be toxic for 500 years. The storage area was within blocks of residential and recreation areas, as well as within range of the water supply. In response to requests ranging from Senator Allard to community organizations, an Ombudsman investigation found that EPA's plan to store the waste would only isolate it from 5-15 years. As a result, the agency agreed to require its removal. But costs were not negotiated and a settlement signed among the parties until almost a year after Ms. Whitman's arrival at EPA. Citizens protested that the subsequent proposed settlement only required Citigroup to pay $7 million for a cleanup that requires from $35-100 million to conduct adequately, without considering associated costs to remove radioactive contamination from the groundwater and other areas where leaks already had exceeded containment or the site boundary. After the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining abolition of the Ombudsman office, Mr. Martin completed compilation of an extensive record of public testimony and prepared a report for the federal District Court judge in Colorado who must approve the proposed settlement. Although the settlement is still under review, there have been no further contributions to the record since Mr. Martin's removal.

Throop, Pennsylvania Senators Spector and Santorum, as well as Lackawana County and Throop Borough asked Ombudsman Martin to review EPA's cleanup plan for this site to dispose toxic wastes from a battery crushing operation. The controversy centered on whether it should be a Superfund site, and whether the toxic wastes such as acid, arsenic, dioxin, lead and PCB's should be removed or stored in the area. EPA's plan was to leave the poisons in the community, just blocks from residential and recreation areas and within range of the water supply, covered by plastic liner bags. But the Ombudsman investigation found lead in the soil at levels up to 250 parts per million, revealed there already were weeds growing through the plastic bags, and concluded that the area's topography meant it was too geographically unstable to safely store toxic waste. After the District Court TRO permitted the investigation to resume, the Ombudsman held public hearings and found records demonstrating that EPA had concealed readings that the site contamination readings exceeded Superfund levels. Since Mr. Martin's removal, the case has been dormant.

Uniontown, Ohio At the request of area Congressman Sawyer, Ombudsman Martin opened a case of the IEL site near Canton, Ohio, for which tire companies today are primarily responsible. Radiation was emanating from the site with inexplicable tritium readings in the ground water, and the original owner alerted EPA that he had accepted a nuclear device from the army while operating the site as a landfill. The Ombudsman was investigating challenges to EPA assertions that the nuclear device did not exist, because it had not been found. Nonetheless, the agency also refused to look for it through the contradictory excuse that it would be too dangerous to do any digging. . The Ombudsman case ended with Mr. Martin's removal.

Yucca Mountain, Nevada At the end of last year the Nevada congressional delegation, the state and Las Vegas' mayor asked the Ombudsman to investigate EPA-related issues from the proposed nuclear waste site, which has a Resource and Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) identification number. EPA's Office of General Counsel barred Mr. Martin from providing assistance.

World Trade Center At the request of Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Ombudsman opened a case to prepare cleanup recommendations and to probe EPA Administrator Whitman's widely publicized assertions that there were no environmental health hazards from the World Trade Center disaster. Ombudsman Martin conducted two eleven hour hearings hosted by Representative Nadler. The hearings developed extensive testimony contradicting Mr. Whitman's assertions, from scientists, citizens, firefighters and other cleanup workers, doctors and even counter terrorism experts. They exposed severe threats from asbestos and other particles released during the disaster. The Ombudsman presented detailed findings in testimony to the New York state assembly, New York city council, and New York City Board of Education. Facing this record, EPA reversed its initial decisions and took serious steps such as stopping release of contaminated cars, and starting a systematic program of indoor air testing for lower Manhattan. City authorities also acted to limit exposure of cleanup workers and school children to the newly confirmed health hazards. None of these efforts would have occurred if the District Court had allowed Ms. Whitman to eliminate the National Ombudsman function as originally planned. Further oversight has ended entirely since his forced removal.

Credibility Of OIG Ombudsman

Quite simply, there is none. EPA has created a counterfeit Ombudsman. The agency contends that it strengthened the Office by abolishing it. This oxymoron flunks the laugh test. As seen above, empirically the new, improved ombudsman has functionally abandoned the communities Mr. Martin was actively helping, on grounds that his files have been too disorderly to resume work for three months. That excuse is intellectually insulting on its face. It is more so in context: the OIG has not requested Mr. Martin's transition assistance in order to retrieve data or make any other progress necessary to resume work. Structurally, the reassignment institutionalizes a lack of independence, conflicts of interest and the merger of incompatible functions within the same agency. That is three strikes against legitimacy.

GAP seconds the conclusion of the U.S. Ombudsman Association that EPA Administrator Whitman's obstruction of Mr. Martin's investigations and reassignment "offers a textbook example of how administrators will interfere with the operation of internal agency ombudsmen." If anything, that is an understatement. In January District Court Judge Richard Roberts issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) after finding the loss of independence so severe that it demonstrated a substantial likelihood the reassignment was illegal retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. His ruling noted that, flatly contradictory to General Accounting Office (GAO) recommendations, the reassigned Ombudsman would lose control over budget requests and spending, hiring and firing, and even decisions whether to investigate or otherwise help aggrieved communities.

GAO's testimony also noted that the merger would block the Ombudsman from investigating and seeking resolution of citizen grievances against the Office of Inspector General. Judge Roberts felt the same way. Another stated basis for his constitutional ruling was that the reassignment would block the Ombudsman from any meaningful actions without the IG's prior approval, just a month after the former issued a report detailing obstruction of Ombudsman investigations by the Inspector General.

Even if the reassignment were in good faith, however, at best it will be an exercise in frustration by attempting to merge incompatible functions. It is true that both offices involve fact finding about alleged EPA misconduct. That is where the common ground ends, however. The premise of Ombudsman investigations is a developing record for no fault, consensus problem solving. The cornerstone of OIG probes is finding evidence for prosecutions or other punishment in adversary proceedings, based on fault. Similarly, the OIG's primary role is to serve the agency chief. The Ombudsman's primary duty is serving the public. As seen by the expanding conflict of interest scandals involving EPA's Administrator, those missions can be as contradictory as the role of counsel for a plaintiff is to counsel for the defendant.

Recommendations

The hopelessness of EPA's counterfeit Ombudsman creates an opportunity for this Committee. There should be no hesitancy based on giving the agency a chance to finish perfecting the improved Ombudsman blueprint for which it has been taking credit since last November. As GAO noted, seven months after announcing the reorganization, the agency still has not issued specific procedures for the improved Ombudsman. EPA has not even come up with a position description for the job. The agency also has flunked the "use it or lose it" test.

GAP's recommendations are based on the following cornerstones for a credible agency: structural independence; freedom from conflict of interest; an authoritative mandate to investigate and make a difference through attempted resolution of citizen conflicts with EPA; and the capacity to protect those seeking assistance, combined with an absence of discretionary authority to undermine their rights. The following twelve recommendations are based on provisions of the OAS model law, modified for this context:

I. Structure of Ombudsman's Office

1) Appointment for a five year term by the President of an individual free from conflict of interest to head an Office that reports directly to Congress through relevant authorizing committees, subject to Senate confirmation. If the Office remains in the Executive branch, the it is essential that Ombudsman can only be removed for cause, with a waiver of 5 USC 2302(a)(2)(B) so the position is guaranteed coverage under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
2) Budgetary control and provision of all necessary resources.
3) Authority to hire and fire, assign work and take all other necessary personnel actions.
4) Freedom to open cases, conduct investigations and seek resolutions without prior approval.
5) Subpoena authority for documents and individuals.
6) Immunity from liability, except for actions that prejudice rights of those seeking assistance.
7) Authority to file suit, for temporary relief, to enjoin imminent hazards creating an irreparable harm to affected communities, or to enforce prior resolution of closed Ombudsman cases.
8) Authority to investigate alleged retaliation against complainants, and to sponsor Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) through mediation or arbitration to resolve the disputes.
9) Authority to sponsor ADR through mediation or arbitration of citizen grievances, for cases the Ombudsman believes has merit but does not have staff to investigate directly.
10) Direct access to the Administrator and, when the Ombudsman deems necessary, the President.
11) Responsibility and the necessary privilege to protect complainant confidentiality, and the duty to communicate regularly with complainants about Ombudsman efforts.
12) Responsibility to prepare annual public reports, and authority to issue special reports as the Ombudsman deems necessary.

GAP generally appreciates and supports parallel reform recommendations from the U.S. Ombudsman Association, and the GAO. We do not feel it necessary for a congressional

II. Whistleblower protection

Mr. Martin's experience personifies the necessity for an ombudsman to have state of the art whistleblower protection. That same prerequisite applies to those who communicate with his staff, including government employees or corporate witnesses. Fortunately, the Senate has just defined and unanimously approved state of the art whistleblower protection through its Corporate Fraud and Criminal Accountability Act. (S. 2010) The premises for effective protection are as follows:

1) Analogous to the Lloyd Lafollette Act (5 USC 7211) protecting those who communicate with Congress, the same model should be adjusted to protect all who communicate with the Office of Ombudsman.
2) Aggrieved whistleblowers and other sources could file complaints alleging discrimination because of communications with the Ombudsman, who would have 180 days to seek informal resolution. With the complainant's permission, the investigation could be continued.
3) After 180 days, the complainant could file a retaliation complaint for a jury trial in U.S. District Court to challenge illegal discrimination because of communications with the Ombudsman.
4) Adjudication of cases would be governed by the modern legal burdens of proof in the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. (5 USC 1214 and 1221)
5) A prevailing harassment victim would be entitled to a "make whole" remedy through compensatory and consequential damages.

GAP appreciates the opportunity to share our insights and recommendations on which direction to take at a crossroads that will have serious public health consequences from poisoning by toxic wastes that threaten all American communities. We will gladly work with your staff to develop specific language for any recommendations that you deem worthy of further consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Tom Devine
Legal Director
Government Accountability Project


Written Statement of Sandra Jaquith, Rocky Mountain Arsenal,
Site Specific Advisory Board
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Sandra Jaquith and I have served as a citizen volunteer monitoring "clean-up" of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal ("RMA" or "Arsenal") in Denver, Colorado for the past 18 years.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is one of the largest militry contamination sites in the U.S., twenty-seven square miles with 181 separate contamination sites, boasting "the most contaminated square mile on earth." The "clean-up" is really a "cover-up" because the contamination will be capped and covered rather than removed from the site. The U.S. Army and Shell Oil Company are responsible for the 2-billion dollar "clean-up". Interestingly, however, Shell Oil Company contributed 80% of the contamination but pays only 20% of the "clean-up" costs.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal will become a wildlife refuge when the "clean-up" is complete and is now being managed as a wildlife refuge. That means that 60,000 visitors (mostly tours of grade school children) visit the Arsenal each year, even during clean-up activities. At least, that was true until 1999 when the Army found sarin nerve gas bombs at the Arsenal.

The citizens of the RMA Site Specific Advisory Board requested an investigation by Robert Martin, the National EPA Ombudsman, in 1996. We listed 52 issues for him to review. Until that time, the EPA would discuss none of these concerns stating simply that the Record of Decision had been finalized. We were informed that we were free to raise any of these issues in a law suit when the clean-up was completed, scheduled to be 2011. After careful discussion with Mr. Martin, we focused our priority on six issues. Some of the most important issues we faced at that time were:

1.) There were no signs at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal warning visitors that it is an active hazardous waste clean-up site, as required under CERCLA.
2.) The Army intended to transfer a parcel of land for public use that had not been properly tested for safety.
3.) Children were solicited for tours of the Arsenal, in spite of potential dangers during the contamination clean-up.
4.) The Army found ten bombs filled with sarin nerve gas and wanted to blow them up in open air, contrary to the wishes of the citizens and State of Colorado. The Army still cannot find any record of the existence of the ten sarin bombs and thus does not know the number or location of other such sarin bombs.
5.) Decades of pestiside manufacture at the Arsenal indicated the existence of dioxins but the Army and Shell would not test the soils for dioxin.
6.) The Army has been trying to release more DIMP (a by-product of Sarin Nerve gas) into the water north of the Arsenal.

Robert Martin conducted eight hours of public hearings regarding citizen concerns and helped us to resolve many of these issues. He helped us to verbalize our concerns, prioritize our issues, and to build better working relationships with the State of Colorado and our elected representatives. He served as a liaison between us and the RMA decision-makers, particularly EPA.

During his work with us, new signs were posted, the school tours were stopped, dioxin soil testing was performed, the transfer of part of the Arsenal was halted and new soil testing was done, the sarin bombs were destroyed in a closed chamber that was brought to Colorado by the Army, and the Army was recently told by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission that they would not be allowed to dump more DIMP in the water.

Robert Martin did not accomplish these things alone. He had no power to authorize or order changes. All of these actions were a direct result of EPA reconsideration of previous EPA decisions. Mr. Martin not only focused the EPA on safety and health issues, he helped them to use regulatory policies and national precedences to address genuine and contentious community concerns. He provided a context in which people could work together in new ways. He legitimized community concerns and focused on reasonable ways to resolve issues.

Our community is cleaner and safer because of the work of the EPA National Ombudsman. It is essential that every community have access to an ombudsman who is independent of the decision-makers, who is willing to listen to community concerns in a genuine and objective manner, and who will address these concerns in public, in the open, so that everyone involved can be held accountable for his or her part in resolving the issues. It is also essential that we have an ombudsman who understand the clean-up process and can talk knowledgably to contractors, regulators, and decision-makers.

Now that EPA has eliminated the Office of the National Ombudsman, it is time for Congress to provide the public with an independent ombudsman who reports to the Congress. It is essential that such an ombudsman be trusted by the communities who ask for her/his assistance. There is no matter more important than this. I can tell you that we interviewed Robert Martin for four solid hours before we agreed to request his assistance at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

In order to insure an independent, fair, and trustworthy Ombudsman, we suggest two things:

1.) The Ombudsman be nominated by a bi-partisan, joint committee of the Congress.
2.) The Ombudsman be reviewed and advised by a National Citizen Advisory Board to provide oversight to the operation of the office, make recommendations to Congress relating to future funding requirements, evaluate and make recommendations to the Ombudsman on case selection and prioritization, review and report to the public on comments and/or complaints directed toward the Office of the Ombudsman. The Citizen Advisory Board must represent as fully as possible the full range of past, present or potential sites requesting Ombudsman Reports, popular diversity and geographical regions.

The benefits to the public of an independent Ombudsman is that the assumption of fair treatment and acceptaance of unbiased judgment can lead to final resolution of contentious issues which otherwise may erode the precious trust between the citizens and their government. The preservation of that trust is the responsibility of all Americans and needs to be soberly considerred when providing for an independt Ombudsman, which is specifically created to maintain such trust.

The function of an independent Ombudsman remains an important safeguard against regulatory fiat in light of CERCLA's preclusion of normal and reasonable community review. Everyone in the clean-up process needs to be held accountable for their decisions and actions, even the EPA.


Written Statement of Rochelle Kalish, Executive Board Member, Stuyvesant High School
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


This is a brief statement to coroborate the testimony of Jenna Orkin, a Stuyvesant parent at the time of the 9/11 disaster. I am a parent of a child at Stuyvesant High School that was caught in the smoke that day. I am also a member of the school's Executive Board.

As the communities of downtown Manhattan were trying to cope and help each other through the difficulty of the post 9/11 days, the families from Stuyvestant found themselves at the mercy of the Board of Education which was not in any position to give direction on environmental matters. As the days unfolded, it became more obvious that the decisions being forced upon the students were not well thought out. They were returned too early.

Environmental considerations were not the priority, but appearances of normalcy were driving these economic and political decisions. The lack of leadership effected massive amounts of children. Many exposures would have been avoided if only the school building was properly cleaned before the children were forced to return. Not only were the ventilation systems not cleaned, the information was not shared with the parents. We made decisions to let our children return based on misinformation.

Ms. Orkin's written testimony explains the details of many postponed promises and how, ultimately, the lack of leadership and guidance from the EPA created unnecessary exposure and distress. My daughter now has been diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri, which is elevated pressure in her spinal fluid. I cannot say for sure that an environmental exposure triggered this condition, but the timing of its onset leads us directly to November, 2001.

The EPA did not help the school children of lower Manhattan. It left a completely incapable organization in charge (BOE). If the Ombudsman's office had the chance to share information and guide the people making the decisions for this community, many of the struggles, confusion, and exposures could have been avoided.


Written Statement of Chuck Lehr, President of Pinellas-Pasco Technical Assistance Grant
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003

I would like to thank the Project On Government Oversight and Danielle Brian for this opportunity to speak with you today and learn from my TAG associates. I am Chuck Lehr and I'm President of the community group Pinellas-Pasco Technical Assistance Grant, better known as Pi-Pa TAG, Inc.

We hold a Technical Assistance Grant under EPA Assistance #199493-01-1 to provide information on the cleanup of the Stauffer Superfund Site.

Much of what follows has appeared in correspondence, the media, e-mail, etc. and in testimony before Congress - the latter given by my good friend and former Pi-Pa TAG, Inc. Secretary Heather Malinowski. In July 2002, she testified before the House Subcommittees on Health and on Environment and Hazardous Materials. As Heather has put so well, "we would like to express our complete and unconditional support for the creation of an independent, fully staffed and funded EPA National Ombudsman Office." The entire Board of Pi-Pa TAG remains committed to this pledge.

Stauffer Superfund Site in Tarpon Springs, Florida

Florida is mainly a limestone peninsula - a soft rock which dissolves in water, forming surface sinkholes and underground caverns and caves. This is also our main source of drinking water. It is a very fragile environment.

Tarpon Springs is a coastal residential community located on the Gulf of Mexico. The Anclote River, a navigable river to recreational-size boats and to larger working vessels, nearly splits the city in two. It is subject to tidal flooding and with hurricanes, serious storm surges could occur. The Stauffer Superfund Site is situated on 130 acres, both on the Pinellas and Pasco County Line as well as nearly a mile on the north shore of the Anclote River.

In 1981, Stauffer Chemical closed the phosphate ore processing plant, but left behind some 500,000 tons of chemical and radiological processing wastes, buried in drums, poured in unlined pits, and dumped directly on the ground. The site was placed on the federal EPA National Priority List of Superfund Sites in 1994.

Stauffer Management Company (SMC), with the approval of EPA Region 4, proposed containing all contaminants on site, rather than removing either a portion or all of the contaminated materials.

This was done without first completing:

1. The geophysical studies to determine the possibility of sinkholes; or
2. The hydrological studies to determine the flow of the contaminated water or the effect of tidal flow on the surficial aquifer; or
3. Determining the performance of the cement-soil mixture below the water table.

When questioned on the safety of these plans, we were told they would be answered in the future when the community as a whole asked the EPA to withdraw the consent decree until these studies were completed, they refused.

Current Situation

Two years have now passed since what we refer to as "The Walk Out Meeting."

The need for a return to an aggressive EPA Ombudsman is proven by what is now happening at the Stauffer Superfund Site. The following is directly attributed to Congress Bilirakis' efforts and those of the former Ombudsman, Mr. Martin, and his staff - even without his having completed his investigation.

Briefly:

  • EPA Region 4 and Stauffer Management Co. agreed to withdraw the Consent Decree from the Department of Justice.
  • Plans were drawn up for geophysical and hydrogeological studies, which are now underway.
  • U.S. Geological Survey is included for their oversight expertise.
  • EPA Region 4 and Stauffer are honoring the State of Florida Arsenic Soil Cleanup Level (3.7ppm).

Current Ombudsman/Inspector General Contacts

Our contact with the "New" Ombudsman/IG has been limited.

During the public meeting they attended after they had been appointed, they indicated they were working through "boxes" of data from the former Ombudsman.

In August 2002, we met with the IG and Ombudsman following an update meeting on the physical test running at that time. During our meeting, the IG reported some question was raised by Stauffer about remedial alternatives. Although I'm not personally certain about the intent of the IG's comments, they were somewhat critical of our Technical Advisors' non-answer to the question. This did enable us to open Feasibility Options by updating a list of currently used technologies for Superfund Sites like ours. Our Technical Advisor is currently making this update.

For the remainer of Mr. Lehr's testimony please download this pdf.


Written Statement of Patty Martin, Silver Valley People's Action Coalition
Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003

Historical Overview of EPA National Ombudsman Intervention at the Bunker Hill Metallurgical For the Superfund Site, Kellogg, Idaho

"So Close and Yet So Far Away"

The Bunker Hill Superfund site is one of the oldest and largest Superfund sites in the nation.

Long before there was any EPA involvement, the rich and prosperous mines of the area in North Idaho, otherwise known as the Silver Valley, began depositing pollution into the environment and poisoning innocent lives.

Mine owners were careless in enforcing safety measures for employers, often using fear and intimidation to ensure that production would be the ultimate outcome.

In 1983, 21 square miles of Shoshone County was designated to the EPA's National Priority List (NPL).

These acts of obstruction, corruption and delay are well documented for this site, beginning in the late 1800's and continuing up to the present day. These are not uncommon practices in company towns where the community is conditioned in one way or another to being obedient to the mining companies.

The highest lead levels ever recorded were found in children living in the Bunker Hill Superfund site.

Millions of tons of lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, zinc, animony and several other carcinogenic toxins are deposited over the hillsides and four towns in the area. Five thousand citizens are directly affected.

In 2002, in spite of intense involvement and input from the community, twelve children were found with elevated lead levels in the original BHSS.

In 1973, when production was at its peak, a fire in the filtration system in the smelter at the mine spewed massive amounts of sulfuric acid into the area. The company president calculated a profit loss ratio based upon shutting down and repairing the system as to the risk of liability to human lives if found out. The decision was made to continue operations.

In 1990, an Inspector General report revealed that an EPA Region Ten Administrator had taken extraordinary steps to prevent formal enforcement actions from being initiated against the owners of the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. As a result the smelter complex was allowed to deteriorate to the point that it was declared a public health hazard. Furthermore, prompt action was not taken to protect the public from contamination resulting from salvage operations, and partners in the Bunker Limited Partnership moved company assets to other corporations through stock and property transfers which complicated attempts to recover cleanup costs.

The report goes on to state "of primary concern to us (Inspector General) is the fact that nearly every Region Ten employee who we interviewed about the Bunker Hill Site expressed fear of retaliation from the Region Ten Administrator because of their cooperation with this office."

Today, one of the partners of the Bunker Limited Partnership and responsible for cleanup at Bunker Hill is the owner of the local newspaper. He also owns a destination resort on Lake Coeur d'Alene where the pollution has now spread. The same news source is used by the mining/tourism interests as a means to attack and write slanderous articles about individuals who work towards the cleanup. There is even a reporter who writes and encourages everyone to "bear arms and shoot EPA officials." Shoshone News Press, July 28, 2002.

No disclaimers or investigations warnings are ever given in defense of these private citizens for all the work and support they give towards the cleanup work.

In 1986, $25,000,000 of taxpayers' dollars had been spent on studies at the site, with no actual cleanup work taking place.

Members of the Silver Valley People's Action Coalition were turned down several times in their quest to acquire a Technical Assistance Grant, which would eventually give the community the opportunity to review reports of studies and the quality of cleanup work which had begun to take place.

The TAG would later reveal that in spite of some sound remediation work being engaged, the site was not being given an adequate cleanup.

EPA had negotiated in the early years with the mining companies for a lesser quality cleanup. There still remained in place tons of hazardous waste, 2 to 50 times more lead in the interior of homes than yards that were being replaced and, worse still, the pollution had spread.

Today, 1500 more square miles have been added to what once was the nations second largest Superfund site.

This year, 12 more children in the original site were poisoned by lead. One out of every four children in the extended site has an elevated lead level.

The pollution has spread into Washington State, tribal reservations, the Coeur d'Alene river and Lake, and the Spokane River. Approximately 200,000 more citizens are at risk of getting lead poisoning.

Shoshone county had the highest death statistics for the State of Idaho for the past 20 years.

The county also carries the greatest unemployment since the closing of the Bunker Hill mine and smelter in 1981.

Ombudsman Intervention

In 1994, Silver Valley People's Action Coalition, with the help of then-Representative Crapo, succeeded in having former EPA Administrator of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Elliott Laws visit the Superfund site. He saw and confirmed what the real experts, the affected citizens, had been saying for years - the site was not being cleaned up and needed to be.

EPA National Ombudsman Bob Martin was sent to intervene. For the first time in more than a decade and being named as an NPL site, the citizens were being heard and cleanup work was put into vigorous progress.

Work commenced and there was an element of hope for reaching and end to the monumental work of cleanup work. Within the Ombudsman's office, there was always an immediate response and constant oversight checks and balances taking place. Respect and efficient time frames for resolving problems pertaining to the cleanup were always followed up with, NOT for just the special interests groups and politicians but for ALL citizens.

Unbiased mediation efforts were undertaken. The Ombudsman made it a point to meet with every citizen and group who wanted to provide input. Many productive and extensive meetings were held relating to the Superfund site and its extensive and complex studies.

At Bunker Hill, with the initiation of a grassroots drive by the SV PAC, more than $50,000,000 was put back into the community in the way of wages and other indirect costs. This was in response to the community's desire to have EPA prioritize the hiring of unemployed laborers in the area - some who had not had jobs for more than ten years.

Real cleanup and real success was in the works at the the Bunker Hill site with the intervention of the National Ombudsman.

Post Ombudsman

A State of Idaho commission has been established to take over cleanup work and the millions of dollars still needing to be directed for, not only the original 21 square mile Superfund site, but 1500 more miles of pollution otherwise known as the Coeur D'Alene Basin project.

This Commission consists primarily of county and government leaders and mining interests who go out of their way to deny and delay the cleanup and have little regard for EPA's investment. The Commission chair, who is from Shoshone County, worked with the special interests to secure approval for $850,000 of taxpayer money to be spent on a National Academy of Science study intended to stall the cleanup work.

In August of last year, EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman visited the Bunker Hill Superfund site and extended Superfund site and told citizens that yard remediation and interior lead dust removal would still go on. Region Ten Administrator admitted that it was his job to see this work would go on.

In November 2002, SV PAC sent a registered letter to the Region Ten Administrator asking for him to respond to this removal work and when would it be finalized. To this date we have not heard back.

In 2002, twelve more children were found with elevated lead levels in a random blood screening drive.

In October of 2002, $9 million dollars had been appropriated for cleanup work within the original Bunker Hill Site. There is no work being done to remove lead from homes, the main pathway of exposure, and many more yards await remediation. Not to mention recontamination that has occurred in the yards already replaced years ago.

A December 2002 Spokesman Review front page headline read, "$21 Million and Rising." Department of Justice attorneys have tallied up this amount just for legal work in trying to collect cleanup costs from the mining companies.

In the meantime, innocent children, wildlife, and natural resources are being exposed to dangerous and serious mine waste. One out of every four children in the extended Superfund site is being poisoned by lead.

"In view of the serious nature of these ongoing problems at Bunker Hill, we (Inspector General) recommend you ask senior EPA management at Headquarters to provide oversight to ensure the site is being cleaned up with all due speed and the public's interest at the Bunker Hill Superfund site." Inspector Generals report, January 1990.

An independent ombudsman's position, just by its nature and definition, is important. It must remain non-partisan and independent and it needs to be resurrected and utilized immediately. This is the only way a person given this job can be effective in their work and can make sure problems are resolved in a fair and just manner. Past actions by the EPA National Ombudsman's office have demonstrated this ability.


Written Statement of Neighborhood Environmental Watch, Submitted by Carla Breeze, Wayne Decker, Tina & Adrian Panaro, George & Wendy Tabb, Miriam & Louis Songster, B. L. Ochman, Kate Bernstein, M.D., Miriam Nunberg, Esq., Linda Burdick, Barbara Einzig, Ban Leow, Caroline Martin - Treasurer of Family Association of Tribeca East (not displaced), Diane Dreyfus.
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003

As residents of Lower Manhattan, we evacuated our businesses, homes, schools, and public buildings immediately following the WTC attack on 9/11/01 and were unable to return for two weeks. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, assured residents, employers, and employees that there was no contamination and our neighborhoods were safe. Numerous residents felt it was our civic obligation to resume our lives and send a clear message to the terrorists that we would not be intimidated. We assumed, incorrectly, that the EPA would ultimately reverse its original assessment and acknowledge the massive contamination of Lower Manhattan and begin appropriate remediation. Other residents have never returned to their homes, realizing that there was no EPA oversight or protection of public health. Test results performed n September and October of 2001 by an independent contractor for the EPA substantiate our concerns--these results were not released to the public until one year later, making it impossible for those living and working downtown to make informed health decisions.

The EPA's negligence and lack of oversight regarding the contamination of Lower Manhattan was especially salient at the hearings held in New York City by the National Ombudsman for the EPA, Robert Martin in February 2002. Without Martin's hearings, our concerns and the independent tests which prove the existence of hazardous substances in this and surrounding neighborhoods, would not be a matter of public record.

As a result of the EPA's negligence, numerous residents have been ill since 9/11/01, unable to resume their lives, despite being relocated. Numerous residents have upper respiratory complications, decreased pulmonary function, reactive airway disease, and spontaneous nose bleeds. Specific residents have been advised by their pulmonologists and environmental physicians that they should not return to their homes until the EPA comprehensively remediates all contaminated zones and enforces mandatory remediation of exteriors, interiors, and HVAC systems for asbestos, cadmium, dioxin, fiberglass, mercury, PCBs, silica, etc. According to our physicians any exposure is significant in terms of health consequences. Without an independent ombudsman as an advocate for those affected by the EPA's dissimulation and inaction, we are deprived of our health, our homes, our work, our neighborhoods.

As you will perceive from the letters we have written below, including testimony for the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, the EPA continues to withhold critical testing information, is performing voluntary AWTC Dust@ clean up for individual apartments and lofts, without placing entire buildings under negative pressure, or otherwise following accepted protocols for asbestos (at the very least) decontamination. Cross and recontamination will be the result of the EPA's inadequate efforts in Lower Manhattan.

The EPA National Ombudsman fulfills a critical function: The investigation of actions or failures to act by the agency, officials, or public employees. The importance of this role has been demonstrated in Lake Township, Ohio, where Ombudsman Martin raised issues of conflicts of interest, inappropriate testing methods, quality of site characterization and adequacy of methods of remediation. Without an independent ombudsman at the EPA, residents are forced to appeal to the New York State Attorney General to compel the EPA to act responsibly. (Letter below)

1/7/2003

The Honorable Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General of the State of New York
20 Broadway, NY, NY 10281

RE: Compel EPA Compliance with National Contingency Plan, CERCLA, and AHERA, etc. as provided by the Administrative Procedure Act

Dear Attorney General Spitzer:

Why has your office done so little to protect residents, workers, and students exposed to asbestos, cadmium, dioxin, fiberglass, mercury, and PCB's (among numerous other substances) resulting from the WTC disaster in Lower Manhattan? Since 9/11/01 the EPA has never comprehensively tested indoor and exterior environments, provided accurate testing results to the public, disseminated health hazard information, or otherwise created a public record and transparent process as provided by federal statutes and due process. The EPA's risk assessment criteria and methodologies used in New York City do not conform to those mandated by CERCLA, placing New Yorkers at greater risk for developing carcinogenic diseases.

Since the appearance of Andrew Schneider's investigative article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of 12/27/02, by extrapolation one may assume that the EPA has avoided acting appropriately to protect New Yorkers' health, either for reasons of cost containment by the OMB or simply to sustain investment value of real estate and corporate interests. As Congressman Nadler has testified, however, by such irresponsible actions, city, state and federal administrations are supporting a liability situation in the future which could have grave economic consequences. See the NY Times article by Randal C. Archibold, 1/4/03, City Request Stalls Insurance for 9/11 Cleanup, in which he discusses future liability claims filed by residents and others exposed to hazardous materials as a result of deceptive information and inadequate protection of public health.

The EPA could be compelled to proceed with actions unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed according to the Administrative Procedure Act to comprehensively remediate the entire area affected by the WTC collapse, subsequent fires, and deconstruction at Ground Zero. Numerous residents, including ourselves are still displaced and will remain so even after the EPA "cleans" residential buildings because the EPA plan does not comply with the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) under the Clean Air Act, nor CERCLA, or the NCP. See letter below to Ms. Jane M. Kenny, Region II Administrator July 28, 2002, discussing inadequacies of EPA scope of work and protocols, which does not provide systematic and compulsory abatement for interiors of all affected buildings. Unless entire buildings are evacuated and placed under negative pressure and abatement is mandatory, cross and recontamination will result.

Not one agency, in the city, state, or federal administration has taken responsibility to force the EPA to act according to the NCP, etc., consequently numerous residents, workers, and students have no other alt ernative other than relocation in order to protect their health. Numerous residents have been advised by their physicians to relocate permanently as a result of medical symptoms arising from exposure to hazardous materials.

When is your office going to represent and protect residents, workers, and students affected by the inadequate remediation of hazardous materials by the EPA? We and the other residents signing this letter are unable to return to Lower Manhattan until all contaminants have been systematically and comprehensively removed. Why are New Yorkers being subjected to a higher risk assessment than applied elsewhere in the United States? In your own statement of February 26, 2001, regarding the EPA's remedy for PCB contamination of the Hudson River, you acknowledge the danger of PCB exposure. Yet we have data confirming the levels of PCBs following 9/11/01:

Albany St & West St (WTC) -- 1400 ppm
Battery Pk & 2nd Pl -- 1600 ppm
North End & Park Pl -- 1100 ppm
Park Place & West Broadway -- 159 ppm

These levels (IT Corporation, Environmental Data Trend Report World Trade Center Disaster, October 29, 2001) contrast sharply with the levels of only 562 to 753 nanograms per gram (ng/g) (equivalent to parts per billion) found in the Lioy, et al. study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, VOLUME 110 , NUMBER 7, July 2002, available at: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov

Thank you for your attention to these questions; we appreciate your prompt response.

Very Truly,

Carla Breeze, Wayne Decker, Tina & Adrian Panaro, Kyle York, George & Wendy Tabb, B. L. Ochman, Kate Bernstein, M.D., Michael Cook, Miriam Nunberg, Esq., Linda Burdick, Barbara Einzig, Ban Leow, Caroline Martin - Treasurer of Family Association of Tribeca East (not displaced)
-Neighborhood Environmental Watch, 105 Duane Street 10A, New York, NY 10007
917/941-7369

wdecker4cb@aol.com

July 28, 2002

Ms. Jane M. Kenny, Region II Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway
New York NY 10007

Dear Ms. Kenny:

As residents who have been forced to relocate (we still maintain our business at the above address where we were living), we demand the EPA correct its violations of 40 CFR 300.155, 40 CFR 300.415(n), 40 CFR 300.805(a) and related statutes and regulations which require the EPA to create an administrative record at a central location to facilitate transparency of process and public participation. Lower Manhattan and surrounding affected zones should be added to the National Priorities List as provided by CERCLA.

The current EPA SOW to decontaminate individual residential spaces "upon request" does not conform with the requirements of NCP nor CERCLA. As a consequence, it fails to safeguard the public health in the following significant manner, thereby violating 40 CFR 300:

1) The current SOW is arbitrary and capricious since it is not based on testing using current methods and protocols to determine the extent and location of all contaminated areas, and currently excludes areas of Manhattan north of Canal and the areas of Brooklyn and New Jersey, that were affected by the WTC plume. The SOW not designate the EPA responsible for coordinated testing and decontamination of every building, interiors and exteriors, and every public space affected by the WTC plume and subsequent contamination from fires burning at Ground Zero.
2) The current EPA plan does not address the interiors of schools, courthouses, or other public buildings.
3) The current EPA plan does not address the interiors of businesses, particularly, small businesses, who are no more qualified to safely handle decontamination of toxic materials than are residents.
4) By failing to clean all affected buildings and areas in an orderly sequencing, the current EPA plan guarantees recontamination of cleaned spaces by spaces remaining contaminated, especially sidewalks, hallways, elevators, air circulation, heating and cooling systems and rooftops.
5) The current EPA SOW does not address issues such as removal of all textile wall and window coverings, carpeting and other fabrics in public spaces of residential and other buildings which retain contaminants. The plan fails to provide for replacement of ventilation ducts in residential and other buildings since the fiberglass wallboard used in the NYC building code is impossible to decontaminate according to experts.
6) Decontamination and testing must conform with federal laws and regulations, and use state-of the-art methods.
7) By requiring residents to request cleanup, the EPA plan places residents at further risk by making them responsible for:

a) Knowing the plan exists and how to access the EPA's assistance.
b) Knowing whether or not their spaces are contaminated, a testing responsibility belonging to the EPA.
c) Knowing that their spaces should be decontaminated and this activity synchronized with removal of hazmats in nearby outdoor and public spaces, in order to avoid recontamination -- since the EPA offers only one decontamination effort per residence.
d) Knowing that the information on the EPA website regarding "background" contamination is spurious and deliberately misleading.
e) Having sufficient access to scientific data and studies since no public administrative record has been established.


The U.S. National Contingency Plan (NCP) was enacted to establish an organizational structure and procedure to respond to the release of hazardous substances in an emergency. The purpose of the NCP is to provide the resources and authority for the federal governments Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond in a manner that protects human health and the environment. In the event of a biological or chemical attack, the NCP is automatically invoked. Every elected official representing New York City and State should be acting to force the EPA to act according to federal statutes and regulations.

Very Truly,

Carla Breeze & Wayne Decker
Neighborhood Environmental Watch
105 Duane Street 10A
New York, NY 10007
917/941-7369
wdecker4cb@aol.com

June 5, 2002

Dear Environmental & Public Works Committee Members:

On June 25th you will be holding a hearing regarding the EPA's National Ombudsman position. Without the field hearings held in New York City by National Ombudsman Robert Martin following the 9/11 attack, there would be no public record of the EPA's disastrous mismanagement of the situation following the attack. Not only was the EPA's response inadequate (see testimony of Lt. Manuel Gomez, US National Guard among others), it was so inept as to consist of negligence.

According to testimony provided at Robert Martin's hearings, the EPA never made it a priority to protect the health and well being of emergency workers at Ground Zero nor that of the residents, employees, and business owners in the "affected zones," which incidentally, have shifted monthly depending on agency whim rather than scientific evidence (see testimony of Marjorie Clarke, Ph.D.).

Additionally, the EPA's proposed asbestos decontamination standard for New York City places exposure victims at risk for cancer of 1 in 10,000 versus the standard used elsewhere in the United States of 1 in 1 million. Why should victims of the al Qaeda attack be exposed to 100 times greater risk of cancer from asbestos exposure than employees and residents of Superfund sites elsewhere?

Nine months later, the EPA has not even made a preliminary assessment and feasibility study of the type and extent of environmental contamination of Lower Manhattan and surrounding areas. Without such an assessment, it is impossible for the EPA to propose a comprehensive plan which will actually result in the decontamination of every building affected by contamination. Without Martin's hearings, the concerns based upon independent scientific tests which prove the existence of hazardous substances (including but not limited to arsenic, asbestos, mercury, lead, chromium, cadmium, fiberglass, and silica) in residential, school, public, and commercial spaces would not be a matter of public record.

The EPA National Ombudsman fulfills a critical function: The investigation of actions or failures to act by the agency, officials, or public employees. The importance of this role has been demonstrated in Lake Township, Ohio, where Ombudsman Martin raised issues of conflicts of interest, inappropriate testing methods, quality of site characterization and adequacy of methods of remediation. It is egregious for the EPW Committee to ignore these same issues in New York resulting from a terrorist attack.

That there has been no Congressional investigation into the EPA's prevarication's, concealment of accurate data, and refusal to respond according to the National Contingency Plan, CERCLA, and Presidential Decision Directive 62 is shocking.

Protect American citizens, and victims of 9/11 by restoring the National Ombudsman Robert Martin to his former position and assure his independence and freedom to investigate any act or failure to act by the EPA.


Testimony of Jenna Orkin, Ground Zero Parent
Ombudsman Panel, January 14, 2003
Stuyvesant High Sschool, Toxic Site


I am the mother of a 17-year-old boy who was a student at Stuyvesant High School four blocks north of Ground Zero on September 11. The experience of Stuyvesant may serve as a microcosm for that of Lower Manhattan as a whole.

In a statement that will undoubtedly resonate for years to come, on September 13, Christy Todd Whitman declared the air downtown to be safe. Thus on October 9, four weeks after the WTC attack and after government agencies assured us the building had had a thorough cleanup, Stuyvesant reopened to cries of, "Get back to normal!" and, "Show the terrorists!" Wall Street was up and running again so all was right with the world.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, the week that Stuyvesant returned to its building was the week that Dr. Thomas Cahill of U.C. Davis conducted studies a mile north of Ground Zero which revealed levels of very- and ultra-fine particulates that were higher than at the Kuwaiti oil fields.

For the next eight months, Stuyvesant got a double whammy of toxic waste: Not only did they have the WTC site to the south, they also had it on their north doorstep where the waste transfer barge stayed while being loaded with the debris that was to be carted away to Staten Island. This placement was in violation of state and federal laws, but in the so-called "emergency" that prevailed for the eight months of the cleanup (and what sort of emergency was it, exactly, after the first few weeks when it was clear no one else would have survived? A real estate emergency? An economic emergency?) environmental laws were thrown to the four toxin-laden winds. The barge operation was host to diesel cranes and idling diesel trucks that worked 'round the clock seven days a week. Only now are the carcinogenic and toxic properties of diesel being more fully recognized.

How was Stuyvesant equipped to handle this onslaught? The school's filtration system was about 10% effective until the end of January when, at the insistence of the 6000 member Parents' Association, it was upgraded to 40% effectiveness. Although we had been told the school's cleanup had included the ventilation system, we later learned that in fact the ventilation system had not been cleaned.

For half the days until February, Particulate Matter 2.5 - dust that is small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and not come out again - was above EPA regulatory levels. Often it was higher at Stuyvesant than at Ground Zero. Because of its relatively large surface area to volume ratio, P.M. 2.5 also adsorbed onto its surface whatever toxic chemicals were in the debris.

Isocyanates and tetrachloroethane also exceeded EPA limits when they were measured but, after the troubling results, they weren't measured again. High levels of lead were found in the gym where the lead could be inhaled deeply and in the cafeteria where it could settle on students' food. In response to these findings a representative from the Board of Education which, due to EPA's being missing in action, was in charge of cleaning up the schools wrote, "While lead can cause several adverse health effects, these are usually from prolonged exposure to the dust from the metal or when children consume lead-based paint." Apparently he didn't realize that lead sprinkled on pizza will be consumed.

The synergistic effect of all these contaminants is only imperfectly understood. However Dr. Steven Levin of Mt. Sinai has pointed out that if you're an asbestos worker and a smoker, for instance, the effect is not simply twice as bad as being one or the other: it's eighty or ninety times as bad. To our knowledge, other synergies have not been so thoroughly studied.

In spite of the fact that FEMA had allocated 20 million dollars to clean the Ground Zero schools, the Board of Education refused to clean the ventilation system of Stuyvesant or even to do wipe tests. Finally parents, using the pro bono services of attorney Richard Ben-Veniste of Watergate fame, threatened to sue. The BOE capitulated and performed the wipe tests but held onto the results for six weeks. We threatened to sue again. They released the results which showed thirty times the level of lead which one might expect to find on the floor. (There are no standards for lead in ventilation systems.) After more threats of lawsuits the BOE agreed to clean the ventilation system over the summer.

During that cleanup they removed the auditorium carpet explaining they were doing so for 'aesthetic reasons.' A group of parents known as Concerned Stuyvesant Community had two segments of the carpet tested for asbestos using an EPA test known as ultrasonication. One of the samples came back with a reading of 2.4 million structures per sq cm. Several experts whom we have consulted believe this represents 250 times normal background levels. But all agree it is a level which calls for remediation. The carpet was replaced, the BOE still citing 'aesthetic reasons.'

However the BOE, which had since renamed itself the Department of Education, refused to perform ultrasonication or another approved test, American Standard Testing and Methodology microvac, on the auditorium seats. They claimed that these two tests were controversial. Instead they performed a test of their own devising which involved beating the seats with sticks and testing the air. This test has not been subject to peer review much less received the imprimatur of a body such as EPA or ASTM. Nor was it performed under anyone's oversight. We don't know what air volume or flow was used, where the monitors were placed nor how hard the seats were beaten. It is ironic that the DOE rejected two established tests on the grounds that they're insufficiently understood, opting instead to perform a test which isn't understood at all. Not surprisingly, however, the seats came up with a clean bill of health.

In an analogous situation in Brookfield, Connecticut where asbestos was also found, the school system was closed down until a level of 5000 structures of asbestos per sq. cm. (a relatively low level) was achieved. In at least one school the auditorium seats were replaced and ceiling tiles wet-wiped and hepa-vacuumed. This took place in EPA Region 2. We would like the same treatment in EPA Region 1.

However, of the 20 million dollars which the DOE received from FEMA to clean the Ground Zero schools, at last count they had used only ten. While we wish they had used all twenty, we do not even know what they did with the ten million dollars they spent. Perhaps it is some of that money that was used to lure students at the High School for Leadership and Public Service back to school when they complained last year how upsetting it was to watch body parts being carried past their door. The school handed out fifty dollars worth of gift certificates to bookstores and Modell's Sporting Goods to students who achieved a certain level of attendance; one hundred dollars worth for perfect attendance.

Resident Remove Tons Of Toxic Debris From Apartments

Meanwhile Lower Manhattan residents were no better off. In the days immediately following 9/11, the EPA bequeathed responsibility for indoor air to city agencies. Rising to the challenge the NYC Department of Health recommended that to clean up the dust in their apartments, people use a wet rag. Ever willing to lend a helping hand, the Red Cross gave out buckets to assist in what was being portrayed as nothing more than a piece of heavy-duty housecleaning. Where the dust was really bad, the DOH recommended that residents wear long pants.

Armed with this advice, residents such as Michael Cook threw out furniture and over 150 twenty gallon bags of contaminated debris. Not surprisingly, many residents soon suffered rashes and respiratory symptoms such as chronic and/or the newly coined "chemical" bronchitis. Those who could afford to moved out of New York. Others moved to hotels temporarily.

A third group manifested a burgeoning distrust of government agencies by hiring independent contractors to test their apartments. Some of these tests revealed high levels of cadmium, lead and mercury in the ventilation system. One woman, Nina Lavin, who had shut off her ventilation system on September 11 in anticipation of environmental havoc, nonetheless had twelve times normal background levels of asbestos across the room from the window. She is now in limbo, living in a hotel.

Illness Spreads

At Stuyvesant also, a Health Hazard Evaluation performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that 60% of the staff had had respiratory and other symptoms which they attributed to their exposure to the air at school. No such study was conducted among students. However parents reported that their children had been diagnosed with new-onset asthma that could last the rest of their lives; chronic sinusitis entailing heavy doses of steroids and antibiotics and chemical bronchitis. One girl had her first asthmatic episode in seven years - an attack that landed her in the Emergency Ward - after swimming in the Stuyvesant pool which had not been cleaned.

The Deputy Chancellor of Schools complained that parents' reports of illnesses were "anecdotal." This is true. In the absence of a scientific study, all we had to go on was anecdotal reports. He also said, "we believe the events of September 11 and its emotional aftermath have contributed to a number of these incidents." In other words, the illnesses were at least partly psychosomatic. The Deputy Chancellor did not elaborate on whom he meant by "we."

Ombudsman Arrives

After several months of attending hearings and talking to scientists, by February, 2002, I had amassed enough evidence to convince my ex-husband that our son should not be in the Stuyvesant building. Crucial among the pieces of evidence I'd acquired was a letter from the EPA Ombudsman, Robert Martin, saying that the Stuyvesant building was not fit for habitation. This letter was unique in its status as an advisory from a governmental authority and critical in tipping the balance in my exhusband's thinking.

Ombudsman Martin and his Chief Investigator Hugh Kaufman also held two hearings which provided a turning point in the struggle of Lower Manhattan. While the State Assembly and City Council had held several hearings each, these ultimately resulted in little discernible change. They seemed designed to do exactly what the term said: to hear. A roster of officials heard, shook their heads in wonder and pity but in the end, were unable to do anything.

In some ways those hearings may even have done more harm than good. For the arrangements of the local hearings were always the same: Agency representatives spoke for the first three hours while the news media were in attendance. Invariably they presented a rosy picture of how hard they were working and the pleasing results. At noon, the media rushed out to edit their stories regardless of the fact that they'd only heard half.

In the afternoon we, the hangers-on, the dregs of the hearing, got to say our piece to a room vacated by all but the most zealous advocates of our cause. By that time even most of the panel had fled leaving a token member who would nod sympathetically in between taking calls on his cellphone.

The Ombudsman hearings were the opposite of this sorry picture. The first witness was Dr. Cahill of U.C. Davis who revealed for the first time the news about ultrafine particulates a mile from Ground Zero. Other representatives of our side of the story followed him, interspersed with Agency reps. Ombudsman Martin and Chief Investigator Kaufman asked knowledgeable questions, having done a great deal of legwork and homework. Agency reps didn't get off lightly.

Nor did we. The hearings went on until 11 p.m. But there is no place we would rather have been. With the Ombudsman hearings we felt a change of direction; in every sense of the phrase, a breath of fresh air.

EPA Agrees To Clean Apartments

As a result of pressure from the Ombudsman and his Chief Investigator as well as Congressman Nadler and other elected officials, on May 8, 2002 the EPA announced it would clean apartments in Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street or test them for asbestos. Not workplaces or schools; just apartments because, they said, they had to start somewhere. When asked if they would consider expanding their cleanup above the arbitrary boundary of Canal Street or into Brooklyn where NASA photographs show the plume went on September 11 itself when 95% of the airborne debris from the disaster fell, the EPA said they were looking into it. With this they opened a hotline and waited for the phone to ring.

Over the next seven and a half months it rang about six thousand times, for approximately one out of five residences. The problem was EPA's outreach. They sent out only one flier that we know of and many residents didn't receive it. In addition, EPA's ads never mentioned cancer or the other ills that might ensue from living in contaminated apartments. Indeed, EPA said they did not expect serious long-term effects from the toxic substances that remained in people's apartments. Instead, they maintained that the cleanup was merely to 'assuage residents' concerns.' And since the EPA was telling them they had no reason to be concerned, most people didn't bother to call. Besides, about a quarter of the residents in Lower Manhattan are new to the area, having been lured by liberty bonds worth up to $14,000 and have no idea they could have moved into a toxic zone.

Cleanup Plan Is A Farce

The cleanup itself was also flawed although most people did not realize that. Common areas and ventilation systems were largely ignored. This meant that apartments which were cleaned might be recontaminated as soon as residents turned on the air conditioning or even opened the door. And because cleanup was voluntary, apartments could also be recontaminated by neighboring apartments that opted not to get cleaned. Finally, because small businesses were not included in the plan, they could recontaminate apartments that shared their buildings. Contrary to what certain government agencies have said, dust does not stay put.

Although the cleanup plan did not include workplaces, EPA did perform a pilot test of a small business cleanup at a restaurant at 112 Liberty Street. The contractors removed half the ceiling and left the contaminated other half. They did not lock the restaurant when they left so that during the night it was robbed. They lost the owner's keys. Perhaps by not receiving an EPA cleanup, small businesses in fact got the better deal.

While the response to the cleanup was lackadaisical, an even smaller number of people opted for the testing only option. Of those, about two percent were found to have apartments contaminated with asbestos. Extrapolating from this, City Councilman Alan Gerson has pointed out there may well be six hundred apartments downtown that are contaminated with asbestos, most of which have not been tested, let alone cleaned. And this does not take into account the hundreds of other contaminants that were released from the collapse of the towers and subsequent fires. EPA's testing plan omitted them all.

The testing only option was troubling for other reasons as well. In its hunt for asbestos the EPA was performing only air tests. However, at the Toxicological Excellence in Risk Assessment conference in October several scientists agreed that testing of hard and porous surfaces should be investigated and used more extensively.

And there were problems with the way the air tests were conducted. In its counting of asbestos fibers, EPA omitted fibers smaller than five microns on the theory that they would be handled by the body's immune system. However, scientists do not agree that this is so. At the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conference which also took place in October there was discussion about the likelihood that length of fiber might not be so important as an aspect ratio of greater than 3:1.

The Ombudsman Resigns

In the mean time the Ombudsman had been relocated to the Inspector General's office and Robert Martin resigned in protest. We have read that the IG is now in charge of the World Trade Center case. This is news to us. We have not seen or spoken to her nor to anyone from her office. By contrast former Ombudsman Martin and Chief Investigator Kaufman continue to take an active interest in us and we hear from them regularly. They send us articles and give advice when we ask for it.

On December 28, following a media spree in which the EPA released studies which supposedly supported the Good News that the air downtown was less toxic than everyone feared, the EPA hotline closed. The EPA had never said what levels of contamination they found after all the looking they did at data from above Canal Street or in Brooklyn but whatever those data were apparently did not call for cleaning.

I question these results because I live in downtown Brooklyn and out of curiosity I had ultrasonication performed on my carpet. The reading came back 79,333 structures of asbestos per sq cm, a level of concern. I had an asbestos abatement which involved four contractors working twenty hours on a two-room apartment. The phase-contrast microscopy test that was subsequently performed showed that my apartment passed its Ahera test but still contained asbestos which might pose a one in three hundred cancer risk. This is much higher than the results EPA has reported for Lower Manhattan.

This year the travails of Lower Manhattan continue. We hear of new-onset asthma in Chinatown as well as a case in a girl who has homeroom in the Stuyvesant auditorium; a girl developing pressure in her spinal fluid requiring a spinal tap, possibly, her doctors say, the first of many; a high number of flus and a particularly virulent stomach virus; the return of respiratory symptoms which had diminished over the summer; a teacher with pneumonia.

When Christy Todd Whitman declared the air in Lower Manhattan to be safe to breathe she set in motion a chain of events that many of us believe will prove the undoing of thousands. Already Ground Zero workers are suing the city for their exposure to toxic substances during the recovery operation. Many rescue dogs are sick and at least one, "Bear," has died. We fear that their fate is a harbinger of that of residents, workers, our children and ourselves.

Need For Ombudsman

The foxes are in charge of the chicken coop. Having made initial mistakes they are in the position of having to defend those mistakes by compounding them. Clearly, there are not enough checks and balances in place. Not enough watchdogs to guard against the foxes nor enough penalties to make those in charge think twice about lying and compounding the lie. The penalties for compounding lies should increase exponentially over time to prevent the paramount ethic at work from being, "Cover your tracks at all costs."

To correct this abysmal situation, the Ombudsman must be restored and given full independence. His office provided checks and balances. As a watchdog he was the people's best friend. It is surely suspicious that as soon as his investigation of the WTC case got going, he was moved to the IG's office, "for his own good." If the move was truly in response to his request for greater independence, why did EPA not honor his request to leave him where he was? The office of the Ombudsman must be reopened for business and on the Ombudsman's terms.


Written Testimony of Daniel Parshley, Glynn Environmental Coalition
For the Citizen's Briefing of the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


I've come to tell you why it is important to have a fully independent EPA National Ombudsman. In our community, we have seen how the Superfund process can work, and how it can go terribly wrong.

For many years we had a very good working relationship with the EPA. We worked within the Superfund process, attended public hearings, and submitted comments on proposed plans for the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site. Our community was concerned that our toxic waste site problem would only be moved to someone else's "backyard" and become their problem, a solution that was not acceptable to us.

Since this Superfund Site borders businesses, a neighborhood, and an Elementary School, we were very concerned about how any problems would be resolved. The community worked with the EPA to develop a cleanup plan, which was finalized in the legally binding Record of Decision (ROD). The EPA explained that the Superfund process had specific steps that would be followed in the event that the remedies in the ROD could not be implemented.

Problems did develop at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site. One of the most serious problems was that the EPA entered into multiple agreements with the party responsible for the site that we contend is illegal under Superfund Law. At first we were not concerned because the EPA had assured us that through the Superfund process, we could find a solution. However, instead of working with us to find a solution, the EPA did everything in its power to exclude the community, ignore what we had to say, and deprive the community of information. Even though the EPA assured the community that we would be involved in decisions, the EPA's actions told a far different story.

The full scope of EPA wrongdoing and the EPA's plan to exclude the community was not fully revealed until we obtained documents that had been withheld from us by filing Freedom of Information Act requests, appealing the denial of records, and going to Federal Court to force the EPA to provide documents.

Our story is about how the EPA can put a community through "administrative hell" and use the resources of the United States against democracy. The EPA's conduct was a shameful assault on democracy, and everything that we believe in as Americans.

We expended hundreds of hours and our meager financial resources to ensure that our community would not suffer economic damage and would be safe for our children and grandchildren. We wanted the system to work just as the EPA had promised it would. But above everything, we had identified real immediate threats to our community to which the EPA was refusing to respond.

The EPA has thwarted every attempt we have made to work within the framework established for the EPA and Superfund. We tried the EPA Region 4 Ombudsman, but she refused to meet with us. Tim Fields, the EPA Assistant Administrator at the time, asked that we send our concerns to him, which we did. Even though we were promised 21 times that a response would be forthcoming, Mr. Fields left the post without ever replying. During this same period and at the encouragement of EPA Headquarters, we entered into the Non-EPA Mediator Program, and worked for several months to prepare for mediation. Just a week before the planned mediation, EPA Region 4 withdrew. I spoke to Mr. Fields after he left the EPA and asked why he never replied. Mr. Fields said he could never get a response from EPA Region 4. I appreciated his honesty, and we shared something in common - unresponsive communications from EPA Region 4.

As a last hope short of the Federal Courts, we asked that the EPA National Ombudsman Bob Martin look at our concerns. Mr. Martin agreed to review our case and requested information. We made copies and compiled what was now becoming a voluminous record of the EPA's history of unresponsiveness to the community's legitimate concerns. At Mr. Martin's request, we condensed all our concerns into 129 questions to be answered.

Soon after we provided our questions, the EPA National Ombudsman's office was moved to the EPA Inspector General's office in April of 2002. To this date, we have not received a response to our concerns or questions. To the contrary, the acting EPA National Ombudsman, Mary Boyer, thinks our concerns and questions are moot since the EPA delayed us long enough to implement the remedial action at the Site that is the basis of our concerns. There are many reasons why our concerns are not moot. Foremost is that our community has four Superfund Sites, and at least three more Record of Decisions will be issued in the near future. We need to know if these legally binding Record of Decisions for Superfund Sites will actually be implemented, or are just to placate the community until the final deals are made between the polluter and the EPA.

I mentioned the great amount of time and money our community and organization expended in our effort to exercise our legally mandated rights. But there are other costs, such as the unnecessary use of our meager EPA Technical Assistance Grant funds to try to follow the EPA's deceit and deception. Technical assistance resources should be used to keep the community involved in the decision-making process instead of trying to figure out what deals have been made with the polluter and what documents are being withheld.

All we wanted was an objective and unbiased hearing about our concerns, not the EPA's refusal to reply or discuss the growing number of problems. Our options are very limited. We can wait until the end of the Superfund process and take our grievances to Federal Court, or ask for an unbiased, objective, and fully independent Ombudsman to investigate our concerns and allegations of EPA misconduct. Democracy deserves no less than a fully independent EPA National Ombudsman. An independent Ombudsman is needed to preserve democracy, and I ask that you make creating such an office a priority for this Congress.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Written Testimony of Deborah Sanchez, Administrator,
Overland Neighborhood Environmental Watch
For the Citizens' Briefing on the EPA Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


I am Deborah Sanchez and I live in Denver, Colorado, 300 yards from the Shattuck Chemical Superfund site, a toxic, radioactive waste dump. I'm speaking on behalf of the community affected by this site and represent Overland Neighborhood Environmental Watch (ONEW), a community group of concerned citizens.

We are grateful for the opportunity to support legislation that would fund and ensure the independence of the EPA National Ombudsman Office. We believe that continuing this important conduit between the people and the government is crucial to give citizens a voice in the decisions affecting them and the environment in their communities.

When we met the EPA National Ombudsman, Robert Martin, in June 1999, we felt as if we had been in a war for years, trying to defend our families and homes from the bureaucracy and corporation that had buried radioactive waste across the street from our homes.

There were constant contradictions and erroneous information given to my community over the years.

  • EPA's response to a FOIA request in 1987 was that "there were no NPL sites in my area." In fact, the Shattuck Superfund site had been placed in the National Priority List for cleanup sometime between 1983 and 1985.
  • An EPA Project Manager told us not to eat the fruits and vegetables in our gardens, and then, without doing further studies, later said it was ok.
  • A flyer had informed us in 1991 that airborne radium (found at the site) was especially dangerous for children. Yet the 50,000 cubic yards of radioactive dirt was left uncovered and allowed to blow around our neighborhood, despite our calls and pleas to State Health, EPA and the owner of the site, Salomon Bros. Investing, to cover it up. Finally, we were told that the dirt wasn't dangerous after all. The company was fined, but really, what is a $15,000 fine to a company worth billions of dollars? It is cheaper to continue to pay lawyers and fines than it is to clean up the contamination.
  • State Health Department and EPA met with my community and sent us a proposed plan stating that the preferred remedy that would completely ensure the health and safety of the community was to "excavate and remove" the waste. Then, after closed door meetings with Salomon Bros. officials and attorneys, a Record of Decision was signed ordering the company to treat, stabilize and bury the radioactive dirt on site. No one came back to tell us why the preferred remedy had been changed. When we asked the EPA why, they did not answer us. When we asked to see the documents and records of the meetings where they made these decisions, the documents were marked "classified" and "privileged" so that we could not see them.

We are the people EPA's decisions effect most directly. The health and lives of us and our children, the economic value and environmental integrity of our property, our sense of safety and security, and our faith in our government's ability to protect us were all at stake, and yet we were not allowed to know why we had been sentenced, without due process, to live with radiation buried in the middle of our community.

Our tax dollars were used to pay attorneys from the city of Denver to sue the company who turned to the EPA for protection and were represented by Department of Justice attorneys in the Federal courts. Many times I have advocated for us to stay home and sue ourselves. It would be cheaper.

In 1999, we were fearful and exhausted. We felt assaulted by the government we had been raised to trust. We had been disregarded and disrespected. There was a regional ombudsman at Region 8 during this contentious interaction, yet we were never told of this person's existence, nor how they could help us. My neighbor found out about the existence of the EPA National Ombudsman from another citizen and contacted Senator Allard to request that the Ombudsman be asked to help us.

Mr. Martin came to Colorado and truly listened to us. He listened to our anger and frustration, our pain and our fears. He listened to our disillusionment with our government and he placed no restrictions, agendas, or time limits on his listening. He listened to our good ideas and respected the wisdom we shared about our own community and environment. This wisdom is seldom tapped by the EPA because the system has been structured to exclude citizen input. Mr. Martin promised to uncover the truth for us and began to meet with EPA Region 8 staff to plan and schedule public hearings. He and Senator Allard also asked for the release of the classified documents. Eventually, 1,940 of the original 2,000 documents withheld from us were released.

Once Mr. Martin convened public hearings to find out the truth, my neighborhood finally felt that our democracy was working again. Mr. Martin gave us hope that we could again have meaningful interaction with our government and that decisions would be made for the good for all concerned.

In June 2000, the EPA overturned their original decision and ordered the buried radioactive waste removed from our neighborhood. We were promised by the EPA that the National Ombudsman would continue to be involved to ensure that the removal would be accomplished with the highest integrity and concern for the health and safety of our community. This gave us confidence in the cleanup. Yet over the past two years we have watched this office, which was such a crucial resource for helping citizens have access to the truth, be dismantled and incapacitated until no support was left and Mr. Martin was forced to resign. Our files were taken from the National Ombudsman office by the Inspector General's Office in the spring of 2002, supposedly to transfer this important service to the Inspector General. Yet, no one from that office has contacted us to ask if they can be of service.

Funding an independent Ombudsman would allow communities to ask for help before tax money was thrown away on lawsuits. Involving the affected community from the beginning would bring a wisdom to the process that would truly be good for all concerned, not only from a spiritual and democratic perspective but also from a financial perspective because everyone would be working toward a solution rather than fighting with each other.

It is normal to make mistakes and even normal to want to cover them up. But when problems arise and mistakes are made - and especially when mistakes are covered up - it is only by exposing them to the light of day that we have any hope of correcting them. The National Ombudsman process is crucial for helping expose the truth to the light of day for all of us dealing with serious threats to our environment and knowing the Truth is the only way we can truly remain free, secure and self-governed.

We need an honest and diligent EPA, protecting our environment and restoring it to wholeness. This is sacred work, for the environment of our planet is the only thing that sustains LIFE. Decisions are still being made based on how much it will cost the corporation or the EPA rather than how much can be done to protect the health of the people and the precious environment that every living creature depends on.

Buildings are now being built across the street from us to contain the radioactive dust during removal of the Shattuck waste, which will hopefully begin next month. We celebrated this progress on December 6, but since then, questions have been raised by community members and scientists about areas that are "hotter" than previously thought, and rumors have begun to circulate that the EPA is cutting corners on construction because of money concerns. Not surprisingly, these are concerns that were raised by Mr. Martin over three years ago.

We need help. We need the oversight we were promised. We need an appropriately funded, independent National Ombudsman.


Written Testimony of Susan Shortz, Citizen of Throop, Pa., President of HELP (Halt Environmental Lead Pollution) and member of the Citizen Review Committee for the Marjol Site
For the Citizen's Briefing on the Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003


The Borough of Throop is a small residential community with a population of about 4,100. The Marjol Site is a former lead-acid battery recycling facility located in the Borough. Gould Electronics Inc. owns the 43.9 acre site. There are approximately 65 residential homes within 500 feet of the Site boundary and 25 of those homes are within 50 feet of the Site. The Lackawanna River borders the Site to the West. Over 500,000 cubic yards of battery casings are stockpiled and buried at Marjol. There are Polychlorinated-Biphenyls (PCBs), Poly-aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), antimony, arsenic, cadmium and other carcinogens buried on this site. Lead has been measured at levels as high as 250,000 parts per million in the soil. In addition, a large volume of soil off-site became contaminated with lead from Site operations, fugitive dust emissions, and stormwater runoff. This area is undermined from previous anthracite deep coal mining. Our county is the site of numerous mine fires and mine subsidence occurrences over the years and some are still ongoing. In reality it is an illegal, toxic, hazardous waste dump in the middle of small town, without benefit of permits or regulatory controls such as leachate collection systems or a liner.

Several State and Federal site assessments were initiated between 1967 and 1987 because of elevated airborne emissions and high soil lead concentrations in the neighborhood. In 1987, USEPA's Technical Assistance Team collected soil samples from on-site and off-site areas. In response to elevated lead concentrations on-site and off-site in residential areas, the USEPA issued the CERCLA Order on April 6, 1988, although they never listed the Marjol Site on the National Priority List (NPL). Although the EPA assured us there were only a few homes contaminated, and they would be out of our lives in two years, this order resulted in the residential cleanup of 111 homes. The families and community endured soil excavation, tree and shrub removal, and interior cleaning and carpet removal. Although we later found out, through the Ombudsman's investigation, that on environmental threat alone we qualified for Superfund cleanup on the NPL listing, EPA did not list the site on the NPL. On June 11, 1990 a Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Administrative Order of Consent was signed between Gould and the EPA. For the next ten years, we attended meetings and watched timelines come and go. And over and over the EPA continued to say that our site would be cleaned up in two years. Then finally in 2000 we got a glimpse of EPA's statement of basis (cleanup order). We were very disappointed because only a portion of the hazardous waste would be removed and most of the hazardous waste would remain on site, covered only by a thin cap. The citizens of our small community had been fighting to get our site fully cleaned up in a manner that would protect the health and welfare of our people imputably. Gould, the owner of the site, has stated since the 80's that they will only agree to cap the hazardous waste - not to clean it up. Although the Borough of Throop had spent almost $1.5 million to prove to EPA that a "cap" is not appropriate, EPA has refused to listen. EPA has repeatedly bowed to Gould's demands, has deliberately withheld information, covered up agreements with Gould, and misled us. When we heard about the National Ombudsman Robert J. Martin's involvement in the Tarpon Springs, Florida Site, we went to Senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum and asked for their assistance to get National Ombudsman Martin to review our case. Mr. Martin's presence in Throop, along with Chief Investigator Hugh Kaufman, marked the first time our concerns were listened to and acted upon.

The first Ombudsman hearing took place in August 2000. Through that hearing, information came to light that we had been unaware of. Throughout our dealings with Gould, they had resisted our requests that they perform a complete cleanup of the Site because it would be too costly for them. They justified this claim by saying they were unable to recoup an money from the government, other Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), or insurance policies. Through the Ombudsman's investigation, we learned that there were over 240 PRPs in addition to Gould, including the Federal Government, who had financial liability for cleaning up the site. We also learned that Gould had actually sued the other PRPs and received money from them, as well as the fact that Gould had received money from Superfund and from liability policies, all of which totalled in the millions of dollars. We also found out the specifics of a secret amendment to the Consent Order, which changed the requirement of temporary storage of contaminated soil on site to permanent entombment. Through the National Ombudsman's geologist Douglas Bell's discussions with our engineering consultants, Gannett-Fleming, we finally found someone to give credence to our concerns about mine subsidence and the impact of a potential mine fire on the site.

As the investigation continued, we were called to Philadelphia to meet with EPA Region III Administrator Bradley Campbell. He listened to our concerns and told us he would wait for the recommendations from the Ombudsman before making a final decision. Then suddenly in December 2000 a final decision was handed down on the Marjol Site. It no longer called for any guaranteed removal, except for that material which would not fit under the cap, and no longer called for solidification of the remaining contaminants under the cap. The Record of Decision (ROD) was released before the Ombudsman had an opportunity to complete his work and make his recommendations to EPA -recommendations EPA had promised to listen to. Needless to say we were shocked. Then on January 5, 2001, this case, and every other National Ombudsman case, was suspended until "clear and consistent direction" was received from EPA Management. EPA Management initiated blatant interference with the National Ombudsman cases, including Marjol. We hit another stonewall.

The Pennsylvania delegation has continuously attempted to intervene with the EPA to get the Agency to keep its promises to them and our community, to no avail. One of the many new revelations that came out of the Ombudsman hearing was the fact that EPA has continued to lie to the community of Throop and active officials by falsely stating that the Site could not be cleaned up under the Superfund program. The Ombudsman's investigation found withheld documents; uncovered secret agreements between Gould and EPA; questioned the EPA's choice of RCRA as a remediation process; and questioned the EPA's use of authority to allow regulations and permitting processes to be avoided. (The community also questions the soundness of EPA's "sound science." It is this "sound science" that is enabling EPA to conclude that a thin cap is adequate to remediate a hazardous waste site which has lead levels at 250,000ppm in addition to PCBs and PAHs. It is this "sound science" that is enabling EPA to conclude that it is safe to leave this site which is adjacent to the Lackawanna River, and that has continuing mine subsidence and the potential for mine fires, in the middle of a residential community.

The EPA National Ombudsman's office plays an important role. It serves as a watchdog for the citizens and as backstop to ensure that the best decisions are being made for the community. Trust in the process is heightened when people know they have an independent Ombudsman to closely examine the agency decisions. My concern is to ensure that the National Ombudsman's office be resurrected to allow it to continue to operate in a transparent way and provide meaningful assistance to local communities, like Throop, when EPA falters as it has in our case. EPA officials have publicly assured us of their full support for the National Ombudsman's efforts. Their actions suggest otherwise. No government official who supposedly works for us and is paid by us should be afraid to have his or her decisions subjected to public and substantive Ombudsman scrutiny.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has issued several reports concerning the EPA's handling of the Ombudsman office. It concluded that EPA did not provide the Ombudsman with sufficient independence and that the EPA treated their Ombudsman much less independently than did other Federal agencies. GAO felt the Ombudsman should be allowed to choose his own staff, supervise them and manage his own budget. It also said he should report to the Administrator and Congress like all other Federal Ombudsman. Citizens and communities all over the United States have agreed.

EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman has refused to listen. She mischaracterized the GAO report and used that mischaracterization to fold the National Ombudsman into the Inspector General. The GAO has again, in its most recent report, stated that the move to the Inspector General's Office is not appropriate. The result of this move has been disastrous for our site.

Last June at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing regarding S.606 we were told that the new Ombudsman Mary Boyer was reviewing the files and was in contact with all the communities. We did not hear from her office until September of 2002, when her office notified us of her intent to visit. She scheduled a meeting for October 9, 2002 in Throop. She wanted a closed meeting with only the Mayor, President of council and three Citizen Review Committee members. We stated to her staff that we wanted an open meeting with her. We did not feel that a meeting behind closed doors would be productive. When she arrived with two of her staff she refused to meet with us and stormed out saying to a local newspaper reporter that "I don't particularly like having open meetings. I don't find them very helpful to tell the truth as far as getting additional information." There were three council members, six citizens, three consultants and local press at this meeting. The consultants had some very important new information to share with her. She refused to listen and did not even stay long enough to tell us the status of our review or what she planned in the future. We later found out that she had been in town earlier in the month and met with Gould officials, the owners of the site. We have heard nothing from her since. In early December, we requested a public meeting in Throop with EPA region III and Ms. Boyer to discuss our concerns. We have had no response from Ms. Boyer.

The National Ombudsman Office is where we can have our concerns heard. He is a public advocate. Mr. Martin and his staff did their best for many communities even though their hands were tied. The new Ombudsman works in a veil of secrecy, behind closed doors. When the citizens of Throop discovered the National Ombudsman we felt we had found the answer to a prayer. We are now faced with a beaurocratic runaround.

The citizens of Throop ask that you please support the legislation to create a fully independent EPA National Ombudsman. Please stop this injustice and help us to regain our faith in the government in a time when it is most needed.


Testimony Of Margaret Williams, Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE)
For the Citizen's Briefing on the Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003

I would like to start by saying good morning and thank you Senator Crapo, Congressman Nadler, Mr. Martin, and everyone who has taken the time away from their busy schedules to be here and discuss the environmental threats that my community and others around the country continue to face.

My name is Margaret Williams, and I am the President of a citizens group in Pensacola, Florida, "Citizens Against Toxic Exposure" (CATE). CATE was formed in 1992 by myself and my neighbors who lived between two Superfund sites: Agrico Chemical and the Escambia Wood Treating Company. Chemicals found on the sites include Dioxin TEQ, Dieldrin, Benzo(a)pyrene and Arsenic. The health effects experienced by the communities include cancer, respiratory illnesses and immune system disorders.

It was and is the intention of CATE to demand a place at the table in determining how the soil and water contamination caused by these sites is remedied. It was our feeling that EPA Region IV, the agency handling the clean-up, was not responsive to us. While there has been some community outreach, we felt that our voices were not being heard. EPA has focused on a prolonged remedial process at both sites. Very little progress has been made even though Agrico was identified as a Superfund site in 1989 and Escambia Wood Treating in 1994. Further, EPA's focus was on the remedial process on-site and did not address the health effects in the community. Nor did they do adequate sampling and analysis in the neighboring areas to determine the extent of the contamination. In fact, the remedial process itself at Escambia Wood created additional health effects in the community, and yet EPA did not want to relocate residents.

Mr. Martin came to work with our community because Elliot Laws, former Assistant Administrator of the EPA, made the commitment to send Mr. Martin to Pensacola. Mr. Martin was highly recommended by our TAG Advisor and other concerned citizen groups. The National Ombudsman truly listened to the problems we were facing and worked with us to achieve results from EPA. Mr. Martin came to our community and participated in community meetings and represented our concerns to senior management at EPA, both in D.C. and Region IV. The Ombudsman's office worked with our TAG advisor to assure a proper scope of sampling and analysis. It was his recommendation that sampling and analyses be performed community-wide to truly delineate the extent of the contamination. As a result of the community sampling and analyses, the Ombudsman recommended permanent relocation of our neighborhoods. This was the third largest relocation done by the federal government in a Superfund community.

With Mr. Martin's assistance, we persevered in getting approximately 1,158 residents and 158 households relocated. To date, almost all of the people in the neighborhoods of Rosewood Terrace, Oak Park, Escambia Arms Apartments and Goulding have been relocated. But, in many instances, the burden of assuring a safe household has been borne by the residents themselves. We feel that Mr. Martin's oversight of this relocation would have assured a positive experience for our community. Many residents continue to have problems with their replacement homes. Also, due to the duration of exposure, many of these people still suffer ill health effects. While those who lived closest to the sites have been relocated, the extent of harm in the Pensacola community continues to increase. Adequate delineation of the full extent of contamination has never been performed, and proper remediation or even containment of the existing contamination has never been achieved. Due to this failure, the groundwater contamination exposure has spread further into the Pensacola community, affecting a local Bayou and city drinking water wells. And the mountain of excavated soil contamination, known nationally as Mt. Dioxin, remains with a cap put on in 1992-93 that was only expected to last five years.

I believe that this paints a picture for you that shows that we have a long way to go before these threats in Pensacola are addressed. We need continued oversight of the process to ensure that our health and environment are protected.

Without an effective national ombudsman that truly can bridge the gap between the citizens and the EPA officials, I am not confident that any community will ever achieve this goal.


Testimony Of Terry Witsaman, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township, Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund Site, Uniontown, Ohio
For the Citizen's Briefing on the Ombudsman Issue
January 14, 2003

My name is Terry Witsaman. I first want to thank the Project on Government Oversight and the Government Accountability Project for providing citizens with this opportunity to convey our experiences and deep concerns regarding the Ombudsman issue, to Congress and the public. I have been a member of the grassroots citizens group, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT), for twenty years. Our group has fought for the past two decades for truth, justice, and a safe and permanent cleanup of our Superfund site, Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL), located in Uniontown, OH.

The IEL was ranked high on the Superfund list in 1984 as one of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites. The IEL is a 30-acre dump that is 30 times larger than Love Canal tonnage-wise, and is located just 3/10 of a mile from the center of the town, with homes built on all sides within close proximity. There are over 20,000 people within a three-mile radius of the site. Documents show that up to 11,000 gallons of liquid waste were dumped each day into this former sand and gravel pit excavated down to the water table.

While ground water is a big concern, a hundred and fifty tons of toxic gases are generated yearly. While hundreds of chemicals have been identified as being present at IEL over the years, chemicals are not the only concern at IEL. Early in the 1980's, when we were placed on the Superfund list, eyewitnesses came forward to report having seen the radiation symbol on trucks coming nightly into the site during the height of the Vietnam War, approximately around 1969-1970. Although CCLT pleaded with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to test for radiation during the remedial investigation phase from 1985-1989, EPA strangely refused to test ground water and soil for radiation. Only in 1990 after intense pressure generated by citizens, media, CCLT, Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) experts, and intervention by two US Senators from Ohio, did the USEPA agree to test the water for radiation. However, they still refused to do soil core samples.

Once the USEPA finally began testing for radiation, high levels of Tritium were reported, along with other man-made radiation, including Plutonium. The USEPA response to these findings was to discredit commercial laboratories and invalidate the data. When the State of Ohio EPA took its own samples and found elevated radiation levels, USEPA cast aspersions on the state data as well. In 1991, after two consecutive rounds of radiological data were thrown out, then USEPA administrator William Reilly asked then-President of Clean Sites, Inc., Thomas Grumbly, to personally investigate the Uniontown IEL situation and issue a report. Mr. Grumbly did so in 1992, and one of his recommendations was to utilize USEPA's Ad Hoc panel of experts called the Science Advisory Board (SAB). However, six months later, upon learning about findings of Plutonium at IEL that were invalidated, Mr. Grumbly informed CCLT that the SAB was "not adequate" and instead Mr. Grumbly went to Government Oversight Investigations seeking a full-scale Congressional investigation with subpoena power. This investigation never materialized. When Mr. Gumbly was appointed by then-President Clinton in 1992 to help head Department of Energy's (DOE) nuclear waste cleanups, Mr. Grumbly indicated to CCLT that he was determined to pursue an investigation for Uniontown through DOE. Indeed, CCLT learned that Mr. Grumbly went to DOE's Inspector General (IG), John Layton, with his concerns about IEL. Subsequent information indicated that the DOE Inspector General communicated with the former USEPA Inspector General, but USEPA's IG apparently dismissed concerns in 1994.

Similarly, in 1994, an investigator assigned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommended to his superiors that the NRC take the Uniontown site from the USEPA in order for the NRC to "conduct full-blown field studies: core samples, gases and the stream" for radiation. The NRC was dissuaded by the USEPA because of an inter-agency agreement. The NRC then took its inquiries about the Uniontown IEL to the USEPA's Inspector General. Unfortunately, a potential investigation was once again derailed.

Around this time, a former General Accounting Office (GAO) expert on toxic waste suggested that our citizen's group contact USEPA Ombudsman Robert Martin with our concerns about the radiation handling - or mishandling - by USEPA. From the mid-1990's forward, CCLT has desperately worked to obtain Martin's help. After Mr. Martin indicated that we had a good case early on, several years passed with high-level USEPA officials blocking Mr. Martin from investigating Uniontown IEL. Finally, in 1998, after intense pressure from citizens, media and Congressional intervention, USEPA Administrator Browner reversed EPA's position and agreed to a "limited" preliminary probe by Mr. Martin. However, the in-depth investigation that citizens sorely sought was curiously withheld.

While obviously limited because of inadequate funding and staff, Mr. Martin was able to visit the community on one occasion in early 1999 to hold a public hearing. This hearing was widely attended by members of the community. Virtually everyone that testified indicated to Mr. Martin that they believed there was a cover-up by the government and USEPA concerning radiation at IEL.

Citizens' concerns about radiation were greatly enhanced after additional testing was conducted in 2000 and 2001. Local rubber companies, who are the principle Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP) at IEL, conducted tests on a very limited number of test wells at IEL. Once again, there were indications of deadly Plutonium found in the ground water. An internationally known and well-respected Plutonium expert, Dr. Mark Baskaran, informed CCLT that the levels of Plutonium found deep beneath IEL were over 1,000 times greater than what would be expected in surface waters globally. Instead of being concerned and taking the cautious action of further investigation by ordering additional testing, the USEPA was true to pattern and dismissed the issue.

In 2001, the former owner of IEL, Charles Kittinger broke his 30 year silence and appeared before a federal judge in Cleveland and the Justice Department to state his belief that he had witnessed the US government disposing of containers containing radiation at IEL. Mr. Kittinger stated that he had been told my men in uniforms, whom he believed to be US military personnel, that these containers held Plutonium cores and were not to be disturbed once they were buried. The USEPA and Justice Department withheld Mr. Kittinger's testimony and the investigation prompted by it from the public for eight months. It is CCLT's opinion that instead of conducting a thorough and balanced investigation, the USEPA and Justice probe was completely biased and limited in scope. Even a rubber company attorney's comments to the court reflected similar concerns.

It is inconceivable to CCLT that even after the most recent revelations of findings of Plutonium; the former landfill owner's admissions; years of controversy; and years of requests for probes and inquiries by various officials and government agencies, the USEPA did not at this point allow the Ombudsman to conduct a thorough investigation. Instead, the opposite occurred - Mr. Martin's hands were tied. Where was USEPA's concern for the health and safety of our community?

It is CCLT's strong belief that the Uniontown controversy is one of the main reasons why Bob Martin was stripped of what limited powers he had. We believe that USEPA feared what Martin may have uncovered had he been allowed to do his job and follow through with an in-depth investigation. Not only did citizens lose Mr. Martin, who was our best hope for justice and a safe clean-up, but to add insult to injury, USEPA this past summer reopened the IEL Record of Decision (ROD), for the second time since the 1989 ROD which had originally called for a cap, pump, and treat system to isolate the waste, and an expanded gas collection system. The USEPA capitulated to the wishes of the polluters of IEL and basically stripped us of any meaningful cleanup. The only plan that remains is to simply plant trees and bushes on top of hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic waste and radiation and allow rainfall to "naturally attenuate" this hazardous waste dump in the middle of our community. USEPA, to our disgust, is turning the responsibility of passively monitoring the ground water over to the polluters, which we believe is a serious conflict of interest. Had the Ombudsman been allowed to expand his investigation at IEL, we believe we would have received a proper and protective cleanup rather than the "non-cleanup" plan we were dealt.

While CCLT is truly devastated by Mr. Martin's resignation, we urge members of Congress to adopt independent ombudsman legislation, so that horror stories like Uniontown's will not be repeated. Without a truly independent Ombudsman with appropriate funding and authority, citizens will continue to be without a voice at toxic waste sites. There will continue to be no checks and balances on USEPA's conduct and decisions. Simply put, there will continue to be no accountability at the USEPA.

NOTE: Additional information on the Uniontown radiation controversy can be found in a formal report prepared by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), in June, 2001, called "A Partial Approach to Clean-up: EPA Mishandles Superfund Investigations," and on our website: www.ieltoxicdump.com.