Dr. Bull, Superintendent of
Glynn County Schools, signed a letter on October 3rd asking the EPA to
re-visit our community's request to test Altama Elementary School for
chemical contamination. Dr. Bull has joined the GEC,
The Brunswick News, the Altama
Elementary School PTA President, and others in requesting the EPA to follow
the advice of the EPA Office of Inspector General and resolve the
uncertainty caused by the previous erroneous testing. Everyone is now
waiting for the EPA's response.
On July 10th, the
Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) went before the Glynn County Board of
Education and requested they join us in our request to the EPA to have
Altama Elementary School tested. The school abuts the Hercules 009 Landfill
Site and toxic waste was removed from the school property in the mid-1990s.
Recent developments have cast doubt that all chemicals were removed from the
At the July 17th
Facilities Committee meeting, Glynn County Schools asked the GEC to work
with Jack Childs, the attorney hired to advise the Board of Education
concerning testing Altama Elementary School. The GEC has had many calls
with Mr. Childs, providing him information His recommendations, in the form
of a draft letter to the EPA, were presented at the October 2nd Glynn
Schools Facilities Committee Meeting.
was previous testing of the school insufficient?
The EPA Inspector General found
that all chemicals were not reported by the method used at the Hercules 009
Landfill Superfund Site and appropriate testing is needed. Whenever toxic
contamination is expected, the first step is to test and report what is
present. If all the chemicals are not reported, an assessment of the risks
cannot be completed and an incorrect conclusion that the property is safe
can be reached .
our children at risk right now?
Without appropriate testing this
question cannot be answered. The GEC hopes there is not a problem, but we
need facts, and not just hope, to assure the school is free of toxic
was put into the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site?
Wastes from manufacturing
toxaphene, full and empty drums of chemicals, and other wastes were put into
the Superfund Site.
Toxaphene is a pesticide that is
now banned world-wide under the Stockholm Convention, and also called one of
the “dirty dozen” or “toxic twelve” chemicals that were so dangerous that
they were banned from use through an international agreement developed at
the United Nations. Toxaphene lasts a long time in the environment, resists
breakdown, and can travel long distances through the atmosphere. High
levels of toxaphene were found in fish and other animals in areas where it
was never used.
Slip is Showing
Releases Incorrect Statements and Misleading Information
About Altama Elementary School
The EPA was extensively quoted
in a July 14, 2007, Brunswick News
article, “Toxic Site Adjacent to School Still Issue.” Unfortunately, many
of the statements by the EPA were either outright wrong or misleading. The
GEC provided the EPA the opportunity to correct their errors, but on October
24th, Laura Niles, EPA External Affairs, whom was quoted in the article,
contacted the GEC to say the EPA would not be issuing a clarification.
EPA Quote: While the school itself, at 5505 Altama Ave., Glynn
County, was never part of an environmental cleanup site, land adjacent to it
Correction: Altama Elementary School is part of the Hercules 009
Landfill Superfund Site, and toxic wastes were removed from school property
during two removal actions (see photo for removal area locations).
EPA Quote: The EPA says the tests determined that the levels of
toxaphene present are acceptable and not dangerous.
Correction: The tests the EPA referenced were of water. Water tests
do not determine if toxaphene levels in school soils are safe. A very
misleading statement by the EPA.
Quote: According to the EPA, an acceptable presence of toxaphene at
the surface level of a site is three parts per 1 million parts soil. The
2006 tests show levels well below that, Niles said.
Correction: The legally mandated cleanup level is 0.25 parts per
million, not 3 parts per million. The 2006 tests tested water, not soil,
and are meaningless to protecting school children from soil exposure.