For more information contact:
Daniel E. Parshley
To receive the EPA's response to Dr. Bull by fax,
contact the Glynn Environmental Coalition.
EPA Responds to Dr. Bull's Request to
Test Altama Elementary
EPA has responded to Superintendent of Glynn County Schools Dr. Michael
Bull’s letter of October 3, 2007 asking the EPA to re-visit our community's
request to test Altama Elementary School for chemical contamination. Dr.
Bull joined the Glynn Environmental Coalition, 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 for the pesticide
toxaphene at the school, which did not report all the toxic chemicals
response, the EPA reversed several previous statements and admitted Altama
Elementary School is part of the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site and
that toxic chemicals were at one time
removed from school property. The EPA also admitted that results of
previous testing did not include all toxic chemicals found on school
"Instead of testing Altama Elementary School, the EPA has requested a
meeting with Dr. Bull to discuss previous sampling results, which the EPA
Office of Inspector General has already determined to be inappropriate,"
said Bill Owens, Glynn Environmental Coalition President.
are asking if children are at risk right now," said Owens. "We hope there
is not a problem, but we need facts, and not just hope, to assure the school
is free of toxic chemicals. Our requests to test the school and report all
chemicals present are reasonable and are the
first step in resolving the situation."
disappointed that the EPA releases incorrect statements and misleading
information about Altama Elementary School but welcome the corrections,"
said Owens. "The EPA needs to test the school without further delay."
Toxaphene is a pesticide that is now banned worldwide 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 have been found
in fish and other animals in areas where the chemical
was never used.
July 10th, the Glynn Environmental Coalition went before the Glynn County
Board of Education and proposed they become partners with the Coalition in
making a joint request to the EPA to retest Altama Elementary School. The
school abuts the Hercules 009 Landfill Site and toxic waste was removed from
the school property in the mid-1990s. The results of the EPA Office of
Inspector General investigation cast doubt that all chemicals were removed
from the school.
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.
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 a correct
conclusion about the safety of the property may not be able to be reached.
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 wrong or misleading. The Coalition
provided the EPA the opportunity to correct their errors, but on October
24th, Laura Niles, EPA External Affairs, who was quoted in the article,
contacted the Coalition to say the EPA would not be issuing a clarification.
Quote: While the school itself, at 5505 Altama Ave., Glynn County, was
never part of an environmental cleanup site, land adjacent to it was.
Coalition 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.
Quote: The EPA says the tests determined that the levels of toxaphene
present are acceptable and not dangerous.
Coalition 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.
Coalition 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.
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