Wednesday Reads AM

Morning Sky Dancers! Minx here with this mornings interesting reads.

I wanted to post a link to this article written by Larry McMurtry. The man who brought us Hud (Horseman, Pass By), Lonesome Dove and many other novels, stories, and scripts. He has written this post called American Tragedy for the New York Review of Books.

Murderous rampages of the sort that occurred Saturday outside a grocery store here in Tucson may retain some power to shock–twenty people shot down right up the road from where I write–but for me, at least, they have lost all power to surprise. Arizona is after all a state where it’s possible to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, and many do.

[…]

Ours is a culture in which shooting sprees have become almost commonplace. Hearing that the site and surrounding area was entirely sealed off I elected to try to learn about it by watching television. The people who were trapped at site stood around in small clumps, subdued; no doubt they were feeling lucky not to be on stretchers or in ambulances. Probably they were oppressed by the randomness of it all: a deranged kid walks up and blasts twenty people. Hello. The novelist Theodore Dreiser would have known how to handle such a scene.

Learning about a nearby massacre from television requires much channel surfing. Many talking heads brooded about the part our violence-tinged language might be playing in the behavior of our youth. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, elected eight times, spoke with considerable dignity, mentioning that in his view, there had been excessive language used in Arizona, both on radio and television. It may be free speech, he said, but it has consequences. Sheriff Dupnik went on to say that he feared Arizona had become “… a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” For this, he was roundly criticized, although I don’t see that he was off the mark. Ask the Indians.

McMurtry comes to the same conclusion that many of us have come to in recent days here on Sky Dancing.

Meanwhile, the dead are dead, the wounded are wounded, and except for twenty families, some of them now broken, the violent stream of American life goes on absolutely unchanged. Arizona and indeed America continue to be packed with guns. I own several myself (none of them semi-automatic) and I have no intention of disposing of them, although I don’t feel I should conceal them and walk down urban streets.

And I don’t believe that language drawn from the hunt is likely to vanish from our political speech. Words such as “target” or “bulls eye” are deeply ingrained. We will be polite for a while but once the slugfest resumes–and politics is a slugfest–the old invective will slip back in.

Guns are part of the culture of America, they will not be going away any time soon. Living out in the county these days, and growing up in a very urban part of West Tampa, FL, I have been around guns all my life. I do not think they should be completely wiped out, but I do feel the background checks, and wait periods are all good things. As for the political rhetoric, I think it will all be back in our faces real soon. Hey, the 2012 elections are just around the corner, do you think anyone is going to tone down their language?

On Tuesday the EPA issued this statement about Chromium 6, Hexavalent Chromium:

EPA Issues Guidance for Enhanced Monitoring of Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

Release date: 01/11/2011

Contact Information: CONTACT: Jalil Isa (News Media Only), isa.jalil@epa.gov, 202-564-3226, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Several weeks ago, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson committed to address hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6) in drinking water by issuing guidance to all water systems on how to assess the prevalence of the contaminant. Today, the agency is delivering on that promise and has issued guidance recommending how public water systems might enhance monitoring and sampling programs specifically for hexavalent chromium. The recommendations are in response to emerging scientific evidence that chromium-6 could pose health concerns if consumed over long periods of time.

“Protecting public health is EPA’s top priority. As we continue to learn more about the potential risks of exposure to chromium-6, we will work closely with states and local officials to ensure the safety of America’s drinking water supply,” said Administrator Jackson. “This action is another step forward in understanding the problem and working towards a solution that is based on the best available science and the law.”

[…]

EPA’s latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard. However, the science behind chromium-6 is evolving. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, has already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September 2010, the agency released a draft of the scientific review for public comment. When the human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information to determine if a new standard needs to be set. While EPA conducts this important evaluation, the agency believes more information is needed on the presence of chromium-6 in drinking water. For that reason, EPA is providing guidance to all public water systems and encouraging them to consider how they may enhance their monitoring for chromium-6.

More information on the new guidance to drinking water systems: http://water.epa.gov/drink/info/chromium/guidance.cfm

Well, as I have said in my post on the Chrome 6 issue, I think the EPA will come down on the side of protecting not the public, but the one organization that has contributed the most toxic waste throughout the world…the US Department of Defense.

Wow, over in Australia they are having a hell of a time with flooding: Brisbane braces for more flooding as 90 people reported missing

Brisbane awoke Wednesday to sunny, clear skies amid renewed warnings that a wave of water was sweeping through the city’s main river system, threatening to exceed the damage done by the record 1974 floods.

[…]

Ten people have died this week in Queensland and more than 90 were missing, Neil Roberts, Queensland Emergency Services Minister, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV.

Seven Australian Defense Force helicopters were dispatched Wednesday to join the eight military choppers already in the state as rescuers searched for survivors and the bodies of people swept away by the floodwater, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday.

I had no idea so many people were missing in these floods. There is more about this here: Australia floods: 14 killed, dozens missing in Queensland floods – latimes.com This is terrible and is being described as an “inland tsunami.”

And for some more human suffering: Haiti earthquake anniversary highlights faltering aid effort – CSMonitor.com

For more than six weeks last fall, a brand new obstetrics hospital remained empty and closed, its Ikea furniture still wrapped in plastic, a reminder of how far Port-au-Prince had to go to recover from the Haiti earthquake.

Meanwhile across the street, a camp with 1,500 families had no access to medical care beyond occasional visits by the Haitian Red Cross. The hospital, commissioned by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has since partially opened.

But questions remain about why the project in the neighborhood of Delmas 33 was delayed by the government, a symbol of the bureaucracy that has stood in the way of many of the projects run by the more than 900 NGOs that descended on Haiti after last January’s earthquake, which killed 230,000 people and left 2 million homeless.

[…]

Oxfam, in a report released last week, blamed the lack of progress “on a crippling combination of Haitian government indecision and rich donor countries’ too frequent pursuit of their own aid priorities. In Haiti, power and decision making are concentrated in the hands of very few,” the report said, calling on the government to reduce corruption, especially in view of the ongoing – and contested – presidential election.

Echoing the sentiment of many Haitian citizens, Oxfam was fiercely critical of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (known by its French acronym, CIRH) co-led by Bill Clinton, established in the aftermath of the earthquake to coordinate reconstruction. “The Commission has failed to live up to its mandate,” Oxfam said in a press release.

The L.A. Times has this: Haiti quake anniversary: Haiti still reeling from earthquake – latimes.com

Today, life of a sort has returned to Haiti. The bodies are mostly gone (though on occasion one is unearthed), and the chaos is part of the routine of survival, of scraping out a living. Traffic snarls up and down hillsides. Most children who go to school are back in classrooms, though jittery and traumatized; commerce is haphazardly brisk.

Yet virtually no major reconstruction is evident. Landmarks such as the grand Roman Catholic cathedral and the majestic presidential palace remain misshapen carcasses. Only 5% of the rubble has been cleared, according to one estimate.

The majority of the population remain jobless. And the nearly 1,200 tent encampments scattered across the city, where more than 1 million displaced people sought shelter, have taken on a deliberate permanence, much as aid workers a year ago said they feared would happen.

[…]

A year later, the slow pace of overall recovery and reconstruction is being widely criticized by outside experts and watchdog groups as Haiti’s tragedies merely multiply: A cholera epidemic has infected more than 170,000 people and claimed nearly 4,000 lives, and a political crisis has left the country unable to choose its next president.

“I feel uneasy and sort of uncomfortable about what is still a disaster situation for most of the population,” said Stefano Zannini, head of mission in Haiti for Doctors Without Borders, one of the largest and longest-serving aid groups in the country. “During the last year, I’ve heard a lot of … talking about promises, plans, strategies, money. These three, four words, you know, over and over. Promises.”

In a scathing report last week, the international charity Oxfam cited a “quagmire of indecision and delay” that has paralyzed efforts to provide housing to the more than 1 million homeless and may have contributed to the cholera epidemic.

[…]

Oxfam and other critics blame a historically weak and dysfunctional state beset by coups, military dictatorships and a self-protecting elite; a lack of leadership from a government that also suffered heavily in the earthquake (all major government headquarters were destroyed or damaged, 30% of civil servants were killed, and President Rene Preval essentially went AWOL in the first desperate days after the disaster); and poor coordination among the myriad humanitarian agencies. Some organizations and foreign governments have also been reluctant to release money into the corrupt morass of the Haitian state and business elite.

The highly heralded reconstruction committee chaired by former President Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has also come under criticism. Formed in April to head disaster management, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission has met only four times, Zannini said.

“Look, nobody’s been more frustrated than I am that we haven’t done more,” Clinton said Tuesday in Port-au-Prince. “But I’m encouraged if you look at how much faster it’s been going in the last four months.”

It is sad to read the aid is slow going in Haiti, and the committee chaired by Bill Clinton is being criticized for its delays. It is disheartening to see the suffering Haitians must deal with, suffering that seems to be never-ending. Here is a post from the State Departments Blog: Haiti: One Year Later | U.S. Department of State Blog And this from the Guardian: Haiti: rocked to its foundations | Art and design | The Guardian

And on another island nation in the Caribbean : Marco Rubio: Obama administration putting out feelers on changes to U.S.-Cuba policy | Naked Politics

Rubio said the Obama administration was already putting out “trial balloons” to feel out new members of Congress on their feelings toward loosening U.S. economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.

But the feelers won’t go anywhere, Rubio said, because he and other like-minded senators and House members will educate their colleagues on the political reality in Cuba, including telling them about political prisoners like American Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned for more than a year.

A lot of elected officials don’t know about the political reality in Cuba, Rubio said, not because they’re Communists but because they come from states where the issue isn’t discussed — or where agricultural interests persuade them to let them sell their goods on the island.

Politico has the interview here: Rubio: Obama quietly seeking Cuba changes POLITICO.com

Cuba was always a big topic in my hometown. So many of the first wave of Cubans that fled that country do not want to see American/Cuban relations to soften. I don’t know if it is a spiteful kind of reaction, because the loss of their property and livelihood. There is some interesting commentary on this from the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

My own family on my father’s side came to Florida from Cuba in 1904. They owned a cigar factory in Marti City, near Ocala, FL and another factory in Port Tampa. If you ever have the time, please look into the History of the Cigar Factories in Tampa, FL…very interesting stuff!

So what is on your reading list today? I know there is a lot going on, let’s jump in and discuss it.


Nor Any drop to drink, Hexavalent Chromium

Yeah, go ahead and drink the water…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Well in Oklahoma, this may not be entirely true. In Norman, OK, the city tap water has a Chrome 6 level of 12.90 ppb, according to a recent report released in early December by the EWG. That is a lot higher than the levels that California has established as “safe” levels of Chrome 6 in drinking/tap water.

So in my other two posts about Hexavalent Chromium: Water Water Everywhere, Chromium 6 and Tinker and the Aquifer, I have cited enough studies to show that Chrome 6 is carcinogenic. It is bad, real bad! And there seems to be a lot of places that could have this stuff in its water supply. Remember? The US Department of Defense aka Military is one of the largest contributors of hazardous waste contamination of the environment world-wide. And it seems that Tinker Air Force Base, which is located over the aquifer that supplies water to Norman, and Oklahoma City, and a large part of Central Oklahoma, had been contaminating the areas watershed and aquifer for years. The toxic chemicals that have breached the water table and entered the source water for the area population are so bad, that the site is a EPA Superfund Site. One of two in the area…the other is a toxic waste dump/municipal landfill that I have not even touched on. This dump is no longer operational, but I can only imagine the problems that it is causing. However, that is a topic for another time. What I have been concerned with is Hexavalent Chromium and the main source of this toxic chemical is the process of chrome plating objects, like the airplanes that were worked on at Tinker AFB.

Residents of Norman, OK should be concerned. Just because the local area government officials seem to be down-playing the entire EWG study and findings.

City’s public water supply meets EPA requirements >> Editorials >> The Norman Transcript

Norman’s inclusion in the 35-city tap water test done by the Washington, D.C. -based Environmental Working Group came about because of the known quantities of chromium. Our wells, drilled into the Garber Wellington aquifer, have a total chromium of between 20 and 80 parts per billion compared to an EPA total chromium limit of 100 ppb.

[…]

City officials say they haven’t tested water for hexavalent — known as chromium-6 — because it’s not required by the EPA or the state. That may change down the road but for now, our water supply meets all of the required standards.

[…]

California environmentalists are pushing to set a chromium-6 limit of .06 parts per billion in their state’s drinking water supply. Norman’s chromium-6 level, according to the EWG test, would be about 200 times higher than that limit.

Norman’s water supply is a blended mixture of well water, Lake Thunderbird water and, when needed, treated Oklahoma City water. New arsenic standards forced the city to take 15 wells off line in years past. If the EPA sets a standard for chromium 6 and our water does not meet it, more wells will likely have to be taken off line.

City official:Norman’s water in compliance >> Headlines >> The Norman Transcript

Even though news that Norman’s drinking water tested the highest for hexavalent chromium among 35 cities in an independent study, the city’s utilities director isn’t going into panic mode.

Ken Komiske, the head of the city’s water utility, said that while the study by the Environmental Working Group certainly raises alarms, he wasn’t ready to declare Norman’s water unsafe.

“You just don’t take one report and make a bunch of rash decisions based on it,” Komiske said. “We’ve been testing our water as we’re required to by the state and federal governments, and we’re in full compliance.”

[…]

The study by the EWG, released Monday, showed that Norman’s levels were 12.90 parts per billion.

“That’s quite a difference,” Komiske said. “We’re talking an extremely tiny amount [of chromium-6] that was detected here [in Norman].”

Komiske said he’s been told that the chromium-6 is most likely naturally occurring and not the byproduct of nearby airports, industrial facilities or military bases.

But that doesn’t mean the city is doing nothing about the EWG’s findings.

“We’re digging around, we’re getting more information about it,” Komiske said. “We rely on scientific, peer-reviewed studies and we’ll do the same here.”

“There are no enforceable federal standards to protect the public from hexavalent chromium in tap water,” read a letter from the senators to EPA chief Lisa Jackson.

[…]

The EPA will determine whether to make any regulation changes in respect to chromium levels once the assessment is finalized some time next year.

For now, the federal limit for total chromium is 100 parts per billion, which is well above Norman’s levels.

[…]

Chromium-6 is a known carcinogen that’s been found to cause liver, lymph node and intestinal damage in the past.

Oh, they are “digging around” but this is serious business, don’t let the nonchalant attitude fool you. If I lived in Norman, or in the area that gets water from the Gerber Wellington Aquifer, I would not drink the water, or cook with it, or bathe in it. But that is just me…Komiske says that there is only a “tiny amount” of Chrome 6, well think about it, Chrome 6 causes cancer…period. You can’t be a “little” bit pregnant, you either are or you’re not. The fact that these people are being exposed to hazardous chemicals in their drinking water, and have the higher cancer rates to show for it, is enough for me to be more than worried about if the local government is concerned with public safety. I will get to those cancer rates shortly. I want to add a couple other statements from John Harrington, Division Director Water Resources, Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Here is the website for ACOG’s Water Services.

Mr. Harrington recently gave some remarks to the Norman Register: Chromium-6 found throughout area >> Headlines >> The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A water expert with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments says the findings of an independent study released earlier in the week should be no surprise for those who know the Garber-Wellington aquifer.

John Harrington, director of water resources for ACOG, said he believes the findings of the Environmental Working Group — which showed that Norman had the highest levels of chromium-6 among the 35 cities sampled during the group’s study — are a result of the chemical makeup of the Garber-Wellington, nothing more.

“I believe these are natural levels of soluble [chromium-6] in the aquifer,” he said. “The presence of [chromium-6] in the aquifer is well-documented.”

From 1987 to 1989, the U.S. Geological Survey sampled 90 water wells throughout central Oklahoma (the location of the Garber-Wellington) and found chromium-6 levels ranging from less than one part per billion all the way up to 93 parts per billion.

For perspective, the federal limit for total chromium in drinking water, which is set by the Environmental Protection Agency, is 100 parts per billion.

[…]

“Heavy metals are not unusual in the Garber sands,” Harrington said. “The most famous is barite, from which we get our state rock, the barite rose.”

Noble, which is just south of Norman, is often called “The Rose Rock Capital of the World.”

Further evidence of heavy metals in the Garber-Wellington came in 2006 when the city was forced to shut down about half of its groundwater wells after the EPA lowered what was considered accepted levels of arsenic in drinking water.

“So it comes as no surprise that other minerals containing heavy metals, such as chromite (a mineral that contains chromium), would also be present in this area,” Harrington said. “Ground water chemistry would reflect the chemical composition of the rock the water is flowing through.”

As for other sources of the chromium-6, Harrington said he wasn’t aware of any facilities in the Oklahoma City area that produce or use it.

Oh, isn’t that nice…the Rose Rock Capital of the World. Harrington says he isn’t aware of a place in the area that would be producing Chrome 6? Reports about the contamination from Tinker AFB are easily accessible.

This image was from a presentation done by the USGS for the Oklahoma Water Board regarding the Garber Wellington aquifer. So concerns about contamination from the industrial processes in the area was mentioned in 2009.  Maybe Harrington missed that meeting? (Note that the study the USGS cites is dated from 1987.) Maybe this 2008 land use report that the ACOG has published is clouding Harrington’s memory of Tinker AFB, Building 3001 and Soldier Creek? Check this out:

Cooperation, collaboration and future visioning are key tenets to a study that is currently being conducted between Tinker Air Force Base and the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan region.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) serves as the primary sponsor of the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), which is funded by the US Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment.

The study is a cooperative land use planning effort. It is designed to promote community growth and development that is compatible with Tinker’s training and operational missions.

I don’t think this guy has the public safety at heart. He is part of the association that brings development to the area. Toxic drinking water is bad PR, you would think that more questions would be raised from the local media. Here are some links to media articles from the area…it is interesting to read these when you know the facts about Chrome 6.

Norman gets more from Garber-Wellington aquifer | Journal Record, The (Oklahoma City) | Find Articles at BNET

The article above is from 2008, Norman had to get more permits to tap into the Garber Wellington aquifer. So more contaminated water is being used in the system.

Erin Brockovich, chromium and cancer | NewsOK.com

Norman water’s level of chromium-6 is 200 times California’s proposed limit | NewsOK.com

California chromium 6 regulation a contentious and lengthy process | NewsOK.com

Safety questions remain on chromium 6 | NewsOK.com

City asks EWG for specifics >> Headlines >> The Norman Transcript

Voices of Oklahoma >> Beyond The Tap: Q&A on Norman water issues

Judge Approves Questioning of Schlumberger Employee and Resident – KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

What I find interesting too, is the tone of the articles regarding Chromium 3. There is a lot of mention that is a “good” thing and a necessary nutrient for healthy living. And that Chromium 6 is known to change into Chromium 3 in the body…well they do not discuss the toxic reactions of that change from Chrome 6 to Chrome 3. If you read the last post of mine, you can see technical proof of the health problems this conversion can cause.

The area’s annual cancer incidence rate is also a bit alarming. The top 4 counties that have higher rates than the US average are Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, Canadian. Of these counties, Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian counties get their tap water from the Garber Wellington aquifer. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

And if you think the EPA is going to set a maximum amount for Chromium 6 in drinking/tap water, think again. According to this EPA’s Lisa Jackson Has Checkered Chromium Record | CommonDreams.org

New Jersey Tenure Marked by Stifling Health Warnings on Deadly Substance

WASHINGTON – December 27 – Three days before Christmas, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promised swift action on the presence of hexavalent chromium (or chromium-6, the substance made famous by Erin Brockovich in California) in drinking water after meeting with 10 U.S. Senators. During her tenure as the top environmental official in New Jersey, however, Jackson stalled or minimized health warnings on chromium-6, including those from her own staff, according to materials posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Despite being seemingly taken by surprise by the Environmental Working Group findings of chromium in drinking water, from her very first until her last days as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from 2005 to 2008, Jackson wrestled with increasingly dire scientific findings that raised big questions about how protective her department’s policies were, including –

A DEP risk assessment that found current New Jersey standards for chromium 6 in soil are more than 200 times laxer than needed to protect public health. While this assessment was about soil, it pointed to risks from ingestion in water and recommended review of stomach cancer rates near contaminated sites. That assessment has yet to be translated into standards;

A DEP scientist-whistleblower who revealed state sampling data showing that individual cancer risks from continued presence of airborne chromium may be as high as 1 in 10 at some sites the state has declared to be clean. Nonetheless, Commissioner Jackson lifted the moratorium on chromium cleanups, thus allowing more inadequate site remediations to proceed;

A 2008 DEP health assessment that found heightened risks of lung cancer from exposure to airborne chromium in the Jersey suburbs of the New York metropolitan area; and

Newspaper exposés documenting that scientific fraud by consultants and improper industry influence led to relaxed DEP cleanup standards for chromium, saving corporate polluters hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced cleanup costs.

None of these developments were met with substantive reforms, however. “For years Lisa Jackson has reacted to blaring chromium alarms as if each one was news to her,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to cities like Garfield. “Thousands of people in New Jersey remain as vulnerable to chromium risks as they ever were.” Compounding the problem was that Jackson and her top deputies took actions to cut off the flow of new scientific information rather than addressing underlying risks, such as –

Abolishing the DEP Division of Science & Research which produced the chromium risk assessments and replacing it with an advisory body with industry representation;

Removing the DEP whistleblower, Zoe Kelman, from chromium-related assignments and denying her meaningful work. Kelman eventually resigned in disgust; and

Issuing “gag” orders prohibiting scientists from disclosing agency data to any outside parties “until it is ready for public distribution.”

“Chromium in water is a concern but it is also of concern in the air and soil. We need a comprehensive national response to chromium in all media,” added Ruch. “Our fear is that we will see the New Jersey pattern of promises but no follow-through repeated at EPA.”

Follow the link to the Common Dreams site, they have listed sources for this recent article.

With the knowledge of just how many US Military sites are contributing to the contamination of environments around the world, I do not think that the EPA is “gung-ho” on setting a limit for Hexavalent Chromium in drinking water. The liability is far to great…the cost of cleaning up the mess, as well as any legal settlements paid out, are so enormous…I just think the DoD is really pushing for all this Hex Chrome to “Poof” go away. Let’s see what 2011 brings. The EPA is giving its decision on Chromium 6 sometime this year. I hope they “man up” and do something for the people and their safety. But you won’t be seeing me placing any bets on the EPA setting a maximum level for Hexavalent Chromium, and having federal regulations passed any time soon.


Tinker and the Aquifer

Welcome to the second in a series of posts on Chromium 6 or Hexavalent Chromium. In my first post, Water Water Everywhere…Chromium 6, I discussed the basics of this highly toxic chemical, the serious health effects, the system used to remove it from your tap water and the lack of regulation for maximum amounts of Chrome 6 in drinking/tap water at the federal level.

In this post I will examine one town in particular, Norman, OK, which according to the recent EWG report had the highest level of Chromium 6 in the county tap water. Norman is a city just outside Oklahoma City, in the county of Cleveland. The counties that are adjacent to Cleveland are Oklahoma County to the north, Pottawatomie County to the east, McClain County to the south and west, and Canadian County to the northwest. The aquifer that supplies water to the population of this area of Central Oklahoma is the Garber-Wellington Aquifer.

The Garber-Wellington formation is the major aquifer in Central Oklahoma. The GarberWellington Aquifer is Lower Permian, Leonardian in age (Woods and Burton, 1968, Simpson, 1973). The water-bearing portions of the Garber and Wellington formations cover an area roughly two thousand square miles and contain approximately 5 trillion gallons of water. Over 400 public water-supply wells and more than 20,000 domestic wells tap into this resource. Figure 3-2 shows the generalized area of the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which covers most of Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties.

 

Figure 3-2 shows the generalized area of the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which covers most of Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties.

The domestic wells completed in the Garber-Wellington Aquifer can be quite varied in depth and construction. Most wells are 100-500 feet deep and cased with five- to seven- inch steel casing. The bottom 25-200 feet of the casing is slotted. The entire casing except the top ten feet is gravel packed with 15-20 to 30-40 “Colorado Frac Sand”. The top ten feet of the casing must be cemented to reduce surface water pollution. These wells yield 10-100 gpm. A vast majority of these domestic wells only penetrate the upper portion of the aquifer.

Tinker Air Force Base is a Superfund site that is located over the south-western portion of the Garber-Wellington Aquifer. In 1942, Tinker AFB was activated and began its long history of repairing airplanes. The building that encompassed most of the work that would later contaminate the ground water, is known as Building 3001. This building was the largest building on the base, most of the repair work done in this building dealt with the chrome plating of airplanes and various airplane parts and equipment.

Site Name: TINKER AIR FORCE(SOLDIER CR/BLDG 300)

EPA ID: OK1571724391

Conditions at proposal (April 10, 1985): Tinker Air Force Base covers 4,277 acres adjacent to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. The base is within the North Canadian River drainage basin and drains into Crutcho and Soldier Creeks. It overlies the Garber-Wellington Formation. This NPL site is bounded by 59th Street, Douglas Boulevard, Building 3001, and the base boundary to the north. Building 3001 is used for aircraft maintenance and jet engine rebuilding. Organic solvents, including TRICHLOROETHYLENE (TCE), TETRACHLOROETHYLENE, and l,2-dichloroethylene, were used for degreasing and aircraft maintenance. In the past, waste oils, solvents, paint sludges, and plating waste generated from maintenance activities were disposed in Industrial Waste Pits Numbers l and 2, located about l mile south of Soldier Creek and Building 300l. Current waste is disposed off-site at landfills permitted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or the State. The base acquired Interim Status under RCRA Subtitle C when it filed an application for a permit to store hazardous wastes. Tests conducted by a contractor to the Air Force detected TCE in a water supply well located within Building 3001. The Air Force has taken this well out of service. The municipal water system serving 55,400 customers in Midwest City draws water from the contaminated aquifer within 3 miles of the base. The Air Force has detected HEAVY METALS (CHROMIUM, NICKEL, CADMIUM) in Soldier Creek at Douglas Boulevard. The Air Force is participating in the Installation Restoration Program, established in l978. Under this program, the Department of Defense seeks to identify, investigate, and clean up contamination from hazardous materials. The Air Force has completed Phase I (records search) and is currently involved in Phase II (problem confirmation). Status (July 22, 1987): Phase IV (Operations Phase) is underway, and work on Phase II continues. Phase IV includes installation of additional cover at a landfill thought to be contributing contamination to a private well. Within the boundaries of this Federal facility, there are areas subject to the Subtitle C corrective action authorities of RCRA. However, no such areas were included in scoring this specific site. Therefore, this Federal facility site is being placed on the Federal section of the NPL under the NPL/RCRA policy announced on September 8, 1983 (48 FR 40662).

Sources of Contamination:

Discharge to sewer/surface water

Inadvertent spill

Manufacturing process

Storage – drums/containers of waste

Waste tank – below ground

Groundwater and Drinking Water

Were drinking water wells shut down due to contamination? Yes

Population served by the wells now shut down: 101 – 500

Are drinking water wells potentially threatened? Yes

Population served by the threatened wells: 10,001 – 100,000

Aquifer discharges into: Surface water

Population served by water wells in the aquifer: 10,001 – 100,000

The EPA has a IN SITU TREATMENT OF SOIL AND GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATED WITH CHROMIUM TECHNICAL RESOURCE GUIDE, which gives a great deal of technical information about the process of Chromium as it contaminates soil and ground water. Tinker AFB has been leaching Chromium 6 into the soil and more importantly into the Gerber Wellington aquifer since the 1940’s. To get a visual understanding of how the aquifer is contaminated, just look at this image below.

Conceptual geochemical model of zones in a contaminant plume.

Typically, chromium-contaminated sites consist agent) may be desirable to overcome the of three zones: (1) source zone soils where the tailing phenomenon and reduce the overall concentrated waste resides; (2) the time required for remediation. However, the concentrated portion of the groundwater cause of tailing at a given site needs to be plume; and (3) the diluted portion of the determined and quantified. For example, if the groundwater plume (Sabatini et al., tailing is controlled by physical processes such 1997).Figure 2-6 illustrates these three zones as differential travel time along streamlines, or of contamination.

Waste water from Building 3001, was discharged into a pit area near the building and into Soldier Creek. According to the EPA Superfund Record of Decision 1990, the hazardous chemicals have seeped down into the soil around Building 3001 .

PERCHED GROUNDWATER EXISTS BENEATH THE SITE, OVERLYING THE REGIONAL AQUIFER… THE DEPTH FROM THE SURFACE OF THE PERCHED AQUIFER IS APPROXIMATELY 15 FEET. THE THICKNESS OF THE PERCHED AQUIFER IS APPROXIMATELY 23 FEET. THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATIONS OF CONTAMINANTS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS ZONE. CONTAMINATION OCCURRED FROM THE DOWNWARD MOVEMENT OF LIQUIDS CONTAMINATED WITH SOLVENTS, METALS, AND FUEL PRODUCTS.

[…]

CHROMIUM IS PRESENT BENEATH THE SITE WITH CONCENTRATIONS RANGING FROM 80,000 PPB BENEATH THE BUILDING TO LESS THE 10 PPB AT THE EDGE OF THE PLUME. THE CHROMIUM PLUME…COVERS APPROXIMATELY 220 ACRES…

[…]

THE DEPTH FROM THE SURFACE TO THE TOP OF REGIONAL AQUIFER IS APPROXIMATELY 50 FEET. THE THICKNESS IS APPROXIMATELY 30 FEET. TRICHLOROETHYLENE, 1,2-DICHLOROETHYLENE, CHROMIUM, LEAD, AND BARIUM ARE ALL PRESENT IN THE AQUIFER IN CONCENTRATIONS GENERALLY LOWER THAN IN THE PERCHED ZONE. CONCENTRATIONS OF TETRACHLOROETHYLENE ARE SLIGHTLY HIGHER IN THIS ZONE. TRICHLOROETHYLENE AND CHROMIUM, THE PRIMARY CONTAMINANTS, WERE DETECTED IN MAXIMUM CONCENTRATIONS BENEATH THE BUILDING WITH MAXIMUM CONCENTRATIONS OF 30,000 PPB FOR TRICHLOROETHYLENE AND 1700 PPB FOR CHROMIUM.

[…]

THE DEPTH FROM THE SURFACE TO THE REGIONAL ZONE IS APPROXIMATELY 110 FEET. THE APPROXIMATE THICKNESS IS 65 FEET…CHROMIUM IS ALSO PRESENT WITH A MAXIMUM CONCENTRATION OF 1200 PPB BENEATH THE BUILDING. THE CHROMIUM PLUME COVERS APPROXIMATELY 145 ACRES.

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Water, Water Everywhere… Chromium 6

Back in 2000, I got a video of a movie that had been released the year before. It involved a strong willed, single woman who was determined to make some sort of living to support her 3 kids. She began working for a law firm and while opening a new client file, she came across documents that eventually lead to the largest settlement ever paid for a hazardous/toxic waste lawsuit brought against a corporation. That movie was based on a real life hero, Erin Brockovich and many of you have probably seen it. If not, here is a series of clips from that film. Take a look and then continue reading the post. The video clips will sort of set up the discussion.

The recent release of data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not for profit agency, which tested the tap water of 35 cities in the United States, is disturbing and alarming. Of the 35 cities tested, 31 of the cities test results came back positive for the very same toxic chemical that caused the various cancers of the Hinkley population, which Brockovich worked so hard to bring to court.

Chromium is a metallic element that is formed naturally, and there are several types of chromium. The kind of chromium that has been found in 31 cities within the US is Hexavalent Chromium or Chromium-6. Chrome 6 is a toxic substance that has been known to be extremely dangerous since the 1920’s. This carcinogenic is usually produced by industrial process and the US is one of the leading producers of Hexavalent Chromium. Manufactures use Chrome 6 for its anti-corrosive properties, tanning leather, metal plating objects, wood stains, textile dyes, and stainless steel. Chrome 6 is also a by-product of other kinds of industry like welding, or smelting, it is even found in some forms of concrete.

The real problem with Chrome-6 is its incredibly mobile in water, because of the level of water solubility of this gray metal. According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), one of the compounds of Hex Chrome causes cancer in the form of malignant tumors. These tumors are formed in the oral cavity and small intestine of the test subjects in higher frequency as the doses of Chrome 6 are increased.

It has also been shown to cause cancer of the lungs when the substance is inhaled, and skin lesions and dermatitis when the chemical comes in direct contact with the skin. This direct contact can be in the form of liquid water, contaminated soil or air, making this type of exposure more common in the workplace. However, when you think of other ways to come in contact with this chemical it becomes more frightening. For example, if a home has Hex Chrome in its tap water, people are not only getting the internal exposure of the carcinogenic when they drink the water, cook with the water, etc. They are getting the direct contact of touching the chemical in showers, and other cleaning activities. And because the chemical can be inhaled in steam vapors, this makes taking those showers, or even washing dishes, life threating.

For an in depth discussion of Hexavalent Chromium I highly recommend these following articles in PDF format.

Reflections on Hexavalent Chromium

OSHA Fact Sheet Health Effects of Hexavalent Chromium

Hexavalent Chromium

Department of Labor Hexavalent Chromium

The only certified way to remove Hexavalent Chromium is by reverse osmosis filters. EWG has some information regard filters. They recommend the whole house be filtered because toxic Chrome 6 has multiple ways of exposure, as I described above. Whole house systems can run anywhere between $3,000 to $14,000 depending on how many gallons per hour it cleans. One of the problems with revers osmosis filters is the amount of time it takes for the water to go through the proces of filtration. Another thing to think about, as the EWG report shows is the fact that bottled water companies are not required to publish their water quality test results. EWG has found 38 containments in 10 popular bottle water brands.

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