According the EPIC, the dioxin that caused the deaths of four mill workers (whose families won a wrongful death suit) at the Simpson mill in Arcata in 1998, may have been banned for years but it was still in the groundwater around the Schimbdbauer mill in 2002 and may still be there. Epic reported in a Summer 2002 article that “Penta contamination is documented at six additional locations around Humboldt Bay, and eleven others are unconfirmed but probably also contaminated. The chemical is found at exceedingly high levels at many of these sites, such as Schmidbauer Lumber in “Eureka, where it has been detected in the groundwater at 9,600 parts per billion (ppb). The legal limit for penta is 1ppb.” The papers we uploaded on EPA violations under Evergreen (called exceedances), bring up important questions.  As you can see, the quantity of carcinogens dumped or emitted, by the hundreds of thousands, far beyond legal limits, was staggering. For instance, in the first day reported, 04/30/2006, the number of gallons discharged in excess of 1,000 but not cleaned up was 416, 799,000. What is in the soil and groundwater around the mill? Has it been tested? Are there plans to clean it up?

10/20/2009 06:41:30 am

Thanks to all the bloggers that got the word out about the clean air needed for all of us. The many chronically ill and disabled people who live here; children and the elderly also need clean air.

Until the powers that rule the county realize that the quality of life in our remote and beautiful place is severely marred by poor air quality, their hopes of economic development fueled by tourism are pie-in-the-sky. No amount of honky-tonk amusements and excursions will attract visitors until they see that this place is also a beautiful place for us, the people of Humboldt, to live.

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10/20/2009 11:05:51 am

Why isnt this guy being forced to clean up this site? Is there some loophole here that says if you werent the owner when it GOT contaminated, then you arent responsible? How can this be happening in a place as progressive as Humboldt COunty? This needs further investigation!

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Heidi Nelkie
10/20/2009 03:20:39 pm

Hey Leila,

Great journalistic work! I am an environmental soil scientist. Maryanne told me about your concerns. I just read your blog. There is alot going on here!I was involved in some cleanup work at a small lumber mill in Arcata and some pulp mills back in the midwest including a huge Superfund Site at Kalamazoo River.

Anyway, you are totally right, the way to get this thing cleaned up is to have soil and water testing done. That is the only way to prove residual contamination. Unfortuantely the Clean ir and Clean Water Acts are shell and do not prevent or fine essentially any polluters. This is a huge issue nationwide! That infomation will likely go on deaf ears; especially if the facility is not in operation.

I am surprised that the new owner, when purchasing the land, did not conduct due diligence in order to protect himself from liability. That means that he would have likely either done some soil/groundwater sampling, or got some sort of buy-off from agencies that he isn't responsible for residual contamination (virtually impossible and usually only done if the city inherits the property). Maybe this is why the deal fell through because he didn't weant the liability???

The goal it seems is that you think there is residual soil and groundwater contamination. Am I correct? If so, you have a good chance of getting support and funding, especially if you have a potential viable business that wants to operate there.

There are 2 routes I would recommend
1) collect soil/groundwater/surface water samples from nearby residents, get them anaylzed, and (assuming results are elevated to be a threat to human health or the environment, submit the results to your congress representatives, EPA, local health department, and news agencies simultaneously.
Second route, if there are low levels of contamination, even at the facility, try to talk to someone at the city who will apply for a targeted brownfields assessment grant. This is $50,000 for free that is given to municipalities with little to no strings/grant proposal to conduct a soil and groundwater assessment at the facility. If anything results from that, you have a foothold into either action against the facility, EPA cleanup, or additional grants for cleanup. This can be complicated if the landowner is fighting you.

Anyway, this is very basic but I would be more than willing to help in wahtever capacity I can. Send me an e-mail if you have any questions and good on you for fighting for the health of your community!!

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10/20/2009 11:28:26 pm

A complete environmental assessment of the property is available at the NCRWQCB. There are monitoring wells all over the property. The polluters of the property were GP & LP. The other three operators, who are all bankrupt, were likely not big contributors. In any case, the Samoa site will be cleaned up. FYI, I provided Pete Nichols a complete environmental assessment and he attended a meeting with me and LP. You might think about being helpful. It would be a more productive use of your time.

Thank you

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