A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 January 30, 1993
Below we have printed in full a leaked memo which should go down in infamy. Richard Guimond, who wrote the memo to EPAs new director Carol Browner, says that the dioxin cancer threat posed by the WTI hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, could be A THOUSAND TIMES WORSE than what the public has been told. Guimond warns that if the foodchain risks are included in health risks assessments it could affect many other projects around the U.S. Greenpeace received this memo through an anonymous source on the the first day of Hearings being held to stop the Von Roll incinerator in East Liverpool. Lawyers representing U.S. EPA and Von Roll at the Hearings are arguing for a one-year test burn and are insisting that this memo not be introduced into evidence at the Hearing. The Judge has yet to rule on it. The Hearings to stop the Von Roll incinerator were held February 7 through February 9. The Hearing will reconvene on February 16.
BACKGROUND: This note is to bring you up to date on the activities we have underway to evaluate the issues relative to the Waste Technologies Incorporated (WTI) incinerator in Ohio. This incinerator has obtained all of the necessary permits to conduct a trial burn. However, strong opposition from local citizen groups has led to a court hearing (which was to have been today but has been postponed until February 8) on whether a temporary restraining order should be imposed to prevent operation of the facility. WTI has verbally agreed [sic: a temporary restraining order was issued that legally restrained WTI from burning. Ed.] not to commence the trial burn or limited commercial operation until after the hearing.
ISSUES: The immediate issue is whether the WTI risk assessment prepared by EPA is adequate. This assessment, which by EPA policy is site-specific, showed that risks from the incinerator emissions (including emissions of dioxins) were within the range of risks historically considered acceptable by EPA. A longer term issue, which will require Agency-wide consultation, is how to devise a national policy regarding indirect exposure assessments for dioxin. This could have major implications for numerous EPA programs and could require a reevaluation of risks at many other sources of air emissions.
The risk assessment was prepared by the Region 5 office for the WTI facility. It focused primarily on risks associated with inhalation of the emissions, an approach which the Agency has historically used in evaluating air emissions. Region 5 concluded that indirect exposure routes (e.g., consumption of food raised in the area) were not likely to present significant additional risk based on a draft dioxin risk assessment for another combustion unit.
The Office of Research & Development (ORD) has a draft document, Estimating Exposures to Dioxin-Like Compounds, which describes a methodology and provides an example of how indirect exposures, such as exposures from soil contamination and subsequent food chain contamination resulting from air emissions, can be evaluated.
Greenpeace used a specific example from this document to attempt to show that risks from consuming products from cattle raised near the incinerator can be 10,000 times greater than the risks from inhalation and are, therefore, unacceptable. The use of the example from the ORD report in the WTI situation is not appropriate, since the risks from air emissions sources are very highly dependent on site-specific factors. However, a preliminary assessment done by ORD does show that risks from beef and milk consumption can be 1,000 times higher than risks from inhalation near the WTI facility. [Our emphasis, Ed.] It is important to note that, even using the worst-case indirect exposure analysis, the risks to the public during the trial burn period would be within what has been considered acceptable. The Greenpeace submittal also contains other analyses that show very high risks. However, both the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) and ORD agree that these analyses use extreme, unrealistic assumptions.
There are very significant implications associated with adopting risk assessment procedures based on indirect exposure routes for air emission sources. These analyses have a much greater degree of uncertainty because they involve a large number of exposure-related assumptions. If conservative assumptions are used for all exposure related parameters, risk estimates can be unrealistically high. The analysis of the WTI situation show that many air emission sources could be affected if EPA were to adopt the indirect exposure analysis procedures in assessing exposure risks. [Our emphasis, Ed.]
ACTIVITIES UNDERWAY: My staff met with ORD on Friday, January 22 to discuss the analytical steps that must be undertaken in preparation for the upcoming District Court hearing. In addition, my staff is reviewing all of the risk assessment efforts related to WTI and the ORD report on dioxin exposures to ensure that any differences can be explained. Staff are also working with ORD to collect relevant data on dioxin emissions from different sources and on risk assessments which have been done on those sources. Finally, the Agency must address the courts question concerning why we need the trial burn data in order to prepare a more comprehensive risk assessment.
For the immediate future, we have scheduled a technical meeting on Monday, the 25th, which will include personnel from Region 5 to review all of the risk assessment issues. We will then hold a management level meeting on Tuesday, the 26th, to develop recommendations on how we should proceed.
We are also developing an in-depth briefing for you on the WTI issues. We will work with your staff to schedule the meeting. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any other information.
cc: Linda Fisher, Dick Morgenstern, Mike Vandenbergh, Loretta Ucelli, Diane Regas
Comment from Waste Not: It astounds the editors of Waste Not that anyone at the EPA could consider a health risk assessment valid without considering all the routes of exposure to a particular pollutant. Not to do so is to assume that these risks (other than the inhalation pathway examined) pose a zero risk. This not only flies in the face of common sense but it flies in the face of published scientific reports that the U.S. EPA has had in its possession for many years. It is well established in the scientific literature that for many fat soluble, persistent toxics like dioxins, the foodchain pathway dominates the exposure to these pollutants from point sources like incinerators. The EPAs position on this matter does not represent good science, in fact it does not represent science at all. It represents a blatant disregard of the public interest. Once again the EPA is putting the interest of a multi-national corporation above the welfare of the people who live in East Liverpool and the surrounding environment. It is also putting these interests above the welfare of every citizen in this country, because we are all put in a little more danger every time the EPA suppresses the truth. We all suffer when we can not trust our own government. Despite the juvenile editorial attacks on Al Gore in the Wall Street Journal this is not an economics versus environment issue. There is no need to shed a single tear for the Swiss-based owner: Von Roll. They knew full well when they built the incinerator that the Ohio State Legislature had enacted new siting criteria in August 1984 which prevents the siting of such a facility within 2,000 feet of homes, schools and hospitals. They went ahead on the basis of an illegal permit issued by EPA Region V in 1983, and a faith that their friends in high places would help them stonewall every appeal to common sense, good science and human decency. It is our sincere hope that Rick Guimond is their last friend in high places. We hope that Guimond is asked to leave the EPA so that he can go to work for the people he truly represents.