September 30, 2004
Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment
APG, MD 21005
Dear Madam or Sir,
My name is James Fite. I am writing to you on behalf of myself and as the National Secretary of the White Lung Association (WLA). The White Lung Association, (WLA) is the largest and oldest organization of people with asbestos diseases in the world. Several of our members from Harford County and Baltimore County have also asked me to write to you.
I travel past Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) on Inter-State 95 approximately 10 times a week. I fear that the ABROV Method, if undertaken as presently planned, could cause me to be exposed to lethal doses of asbestos.
The White Lung Association (WLA) is dedicated to education of the general public to the hazards of asbestos. The WLA and its members are opposed to the current plan to develop an Asbestos Conversion Demonstration Facility (ACDF) at APG.
We find that the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Construction and Operation of ACDF to be inadequate. We are requesting that an Environmental Impact Statement as provided in the National Environmental Policy Act. The ACDF could produce a severe, significant and negative effect on the environment and public health as presently planned in the State of Maryland.
We are further requesting that the planning and discussion of this project;
(2) include representation from the White Lung Association and other community representatives in discussions about whether to and how to proceed with this project.
The WLA feels the planning for this project is very poor and we believe will contribute to
2) Increase the liability of those who own the asbestos,
3) Waste federal tax dollars,
4) Increase the environmental contamination of APG and the surrounding areas
5) Put APG employees and citizens of the state of Maryland at increased risk of asbestos disease and death.
The EA offered only the label of "success" to mask these difficult problems. The mislabeling of the history of this project, the concealment to the extent of its failures and the refusal to seriously look at the failures all contribute to our uneasiness with this project. The project goals are safe destruction of asbestos at a cost lower than landfilling and the removal of liability from the owners. (EA, 1, 1.1) None of these things were done in the 1997 project. A realistic attempt to revive this project must begin with a through review of past failure. We are not amused by the revival of the old program with a bigger grinder and the mislabel of success.
The EA states, "Unless the asbestos is destroyed, it will always present a potential liability". (EA 1.1) Have the owners of the asbestos you intend for this project given written permission to have their asbestos involved in this project? It appears that the project subjects the owners too much more liability. The owners of the asbestos (those who have had it removed) still own it and divide responsibility with the landfill. In this case with APG will have the added liability in conjunction with those who had it removed. This would include liability associated with the transporting of asbestos, the off loading of asbestos (presently in the open air), and the processing of asbestos.
The potential that not all asbestos will be destroyed and the potential for the undestroyed asbestos to be spread through the environment under the guise of Ônon toxic materialÕ could greatly increase the liability. This project promises to do just the opposite of what it intends. As it is currently described the project appears to us to increase the liability, not remove it.
The EA refers to "A Cooperative Agreement Partnering US. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and A-Conversion, LLC" (CA) whose overview notes "EPA approved". Nowhere in the public documents could we find the reference to what you are talking about, when was this approval, who in EPA approved it and where are the review documents, what did they approve? Please forward us these references. We do not think that the EPA said that the method did what the Method said it could do on the level you are suggesting. Is there something in the EPA approval that says an operation of this type will destroy asbestos and the liability associated with it cheaper than current methods? We thought this was to be proven with the "demonstration" project. It was to demonstrate this to be true, not that it was already true.
Page two of the Cooperative Agreement (CA) says this method does not need technical people to operate. We find this statement very unsettling. Why on earth would we want thousands of pounds of asbestos, processed in an unproven methodology, on a location where environmental disasters have happened before, being operated by non-technical people? One would imagine that chemists, industrial hygienists, plant engineers and transportation supervisors would be needed for such operations as described in the EA. Please provide us with a list of the occupations and reasons for these occupations being non-technical. Please provide us with the definition of "non-technical" and "technical" you utilize in this sentence. (CA, p.2) Please provide us the protocol and equipment, which will ensure safety without technical people present during the experimental operation.
On page three of the CA, the authors state that National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires "Architecture/engineer, Chemical Engineers, Chemists, Construction Contractors, Consulting and Equipment Vendors". Are we to believe these technical people will design the perfect project, never to be employed in the "operation"? We do not believe this conforms to the letter and intent of NEPA and is further indication of the need for a full Environmental Impact Statement.
On page 4 of the CA, a ÔChemical Hygiene PlanÕ was approved. We could not find this in the record. Please forward it to us. Also the CA notes that 95% of the Chemical Engineering is complete. We could not find this and would like a copy of the Chemical Engineering reports. Surely the operation of the plant will require the utmost technical staff to determine if the asbestos is handled safely and if it is destroyed completely. We also want to see the written document that shows how five percent of the chemical engineering budget can be allotted to operations in an experimental project. It appears that someone is hoping to use unskilled labor, hidden from public view to transpose asbestos and asbestos containing materials. The elimination of technical expertise is not how we want to make efficiency in a project with such a great possibility of environmental disaster and threats to human health.
Perhaps, in their eagerness to start the project the authors neglected to properly evaluate the materials and the processes in regard to their need for technical expertise. This type of thinking has historically dominated the hazardous materials handling and pollution associated with property under the administration of the Department of Defense. We have always hoped and prayed the current staff at APG is in steadfast opposition to this tradition. We feel an Environmental Impact Study and an evaluation and restructuring go the agreement (CA) is necessary to protect the public, save tax dollars and protect and preserve the reputation of the Environmental and Safety staff at APG. We feel APG should bring in the technical staff as required by law and in sufficient quantity and quality to ensure no increase of pollution in the environment or harm to public health.
The CA also states the method is proven to "destroy Asbestos and ACM". This statement is perhaps true in part. While laboratory experiments attest to the possibility of this method destroying asbestos-from minerals, it has not been proven on a larger scale. In fact, the past attempt could not completely destroy all asbestos and remove all liability associated with land filling with less cost and liability than the current practice.
The misrepresentation of The ABCOV Method, which appears on page 2 of the CA, continues to state items, which this effort wants to prove, as if they were already fact. The ABCOV Method wishes to prove that "reduced landfill costs associated with hazardous wastes" is possible with its use. This is not a fact and it is a proposed benefit, not a benefit. The same thing can be said of most items listed as facts under "Benefits of the ABCOV Method". (CA, p.2)
We request a copy of the "Facilities Management Plan" (first draft) as mentioned on page five of the CA. Also we would like to see the "Standard Operating Procedures" in its current form. We would like to see the "Cost Analysis" and other documents referred to on page five of the CA.
The treatment of the Cooperative Agreement (CA) in the EA (1.2) is insufficient, unclear and appears to be wrong in many of its statements. This is further evidence for the need to produce an Environmental Impact Statement.
Section 2.1 of the EA raises more questions than it provides answers. These questions need to be addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement. How many PLM samples are to be taken per ton of liquid or processed slurry? How many TEM samples will be taken of the slurry, what is the relationship between TEM samples and gallons of slurry? What is the method of TEM sampling and will it be done on site or off site? What is the turn around time of the analysis? What cost provisions are associated with testing of the slurry and of the operation?
Section 2.2 raises some questions. Will there be heat associated when chemicals are added to "support or catalyze the reaction"? If so, how much heat? Why canÕt the bags be delivered directly into a hopper under negative pressure? If the process separates tyvek, boots and other asbestos contaminated materials, why canÕt it deal with the bags? Why open the bags? This obvious question leaves us insecure with the Environmental Assessment and leads us to request an Environmental Impact Statement.
Section 2.2 does not adequately discuss the "scrubbing", its methods and costs, of the exhaust of this method. The scrubbers, filters, diatomaceous earth and other components used in the process will have to be treated as hazardous waste. Their cost, their life expectancy, etc. is not included in this section nor are they present in section 2.7. What are the projections or estimates you may have of the cost of disposing of the hazardous waste this project will produce?
Section 2.2 should be reviewed with an eye on the Permit-To-Construct application (PTC) because the PTC is obviously based heavily on compliance with NESHAP 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M Ð National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. This law, which is over twenty-five years old, was one of the first attempts to control asbestos pollution. This regulation is in no means the standard for undertakings in which asbestos is disturbed. It pertains to the demolition of buildings and refers to control of asbestos occurring in "visible emissions". Much of this backwardness is incorporated into the protocol of the PTC as a methodology of operation. For example page 5 of 17 of the PTC references the law that says:
"A person may not construct or modify or cause to be constructed or modified any of the following sources without first obtaining, and having in current effect, the specified permits to construct and approval. All sources, including installations and air pollution control equipment, except as listed in Regulation .10 of this chapter-permit to construct required. The visible emissions standards in C of this regulation do not apply to emissions during start-up and process modifications or adjustments, or occasional cleaning of control equipment if the visible emission are not greater than 40 percent opacity and the visible emissions do not occur for more than 6 consecutive minutes in any 60 minute period."
We do not feel your Environmental Assessment addressed the amount of potential air pollution from the creation of 39% or less opacity due to asbestos dust. The health of the civilian and military personnel at APG could be endangered by the continued discharge of any asbestos. There must be a zero tolerance, not a daily visual check to determine the safety of the personnel in this project at APG. The citizens of Baltimore and Harford Counties and the State of Maryland deserve protection. This must be addressed in the Environmental Impact statement.
Page 15 of 17 of the PTC states "The Permittee shall monitor each potential source of asbestos emissions from the asbestos conversion facility, including air cleaning devices, process equipment, and building that house equipment for material processing and handling, at least once each day, during daylight hours for visible emissions to the outside air during periods of operation. The monitoring shall be by visual observation of at least 15 seconds duration per source of emissions."
The PTC repeats the various asbestos regulations with the indication it plans to follow them where they apply. However, NESHAP continues to govern external emissions. On page 15 or 17 these weak provisions reflect a law, which the WLA cannot reasonably see as the basis for operation. The references to TEM clearances are for the liquid. A visual peak monitors the potential contamination of the air for 15 seconds during the day. Stick you head out of the door and see if we are leaking. Asbestos is a horrible air pollutant due to its small size, terrific carcinogenic potential and ability to widely travel on the air currents and winds. Even with the Tyndal Effect, the naked eye is limited to fiber bundles 20-40 microns across, leaving trillions of fibers invisible and drifting to Baltimore, Belair, Aberdeen, or Harve de Grace depending on the wind direction that day. The fact that air quality discussion in the EA was limited to ozone and neglected asbestos all to gather in another indication of the documents miserable failure to live up to the NEPA mandate. This is another reason we request an Environmental Impact Statement be produced and that Alternative 3, no action be maintained until and acceptable Environmental Impact Statement can be produced.
The Location of the Proposed Action (EA, 2.3) raises some serious questions and concerns. Has building E5664 been inspected for asbestos, has it been certified asbestos free by a licensed Management Planner? Has the gravel road been tested for asbestos and asbestos containing materials? Both of these potential sources of asbestos could foul with "false negativeÕ results where the successful project could be contaminated from sources outside of its purview.
The statement that "a canopy may be built over the loading dock to provide some protection from the elements for workers who are unloading trucks" (EA 2.3) is cruel and lacks knowledge of asbestos hazards. The six-mil plastic bags current regulations require are often broken in transit. Please remember that this material is often mixed with sharp metal, wire, wood slivers and concrete. These materials shift and cut through the bags. Upon opening the truck, the workers should be prepared to encounter asbestos exposure higher than allowed by law. Under these conditions, with no provisions for their safety, the canopy would block the wetting provided by nature.
We believe the trucks must be unloaded in an enclosed area, which is operated under negative pressure. We recommend that the openings utilize air locks and double or triple doors. The workers must either have a negative assessment done during the opening of each truck or be equipped with respirators and protective clothing as required by Maryland and Federal regulations.
Only the most na•ve child could believe the trucks will arrive with unbroken bags and wetted materials. The project will find the bags are open and the asbestos materials are dried out. We suggest the trucks must dump or mechanically off load inside a negative pressure environment. The trucks must be washed before leaving. Air monitoring utilizing the TEM protocol we utilize for schools would be sufficient to clear the off loading of each truck under the above mentioned operations. The proposals of the EA in 2.3 show the reader that the EA has failed again to recognize weakness in the planning which could lead to pollution of the environment, harm to human health and increased expense. The correction of this EA failure should be attempted in a well-done Environmental Impact Statement.
The EA further unnerves the reader in section 2.4, Source of ACM to be Treated and 2.5, Amount to be Treated and 2.8 Transportation. Here we learn of the authors envisioned import of thousands of pounds of asbestos from DoD facilities, state and federal agencies and they expect to be a truck of asbestos from these areas every two hours. Now we learn that APG will be a magnet for our country's asbestos, with trucks of it coming down Maryland roads every one or two hours. What happens when the plant breaks down? The trucks are on the way. Do the trucks turn back, do they off load and leave? How many trucks of asbestos can sit in truck stops and at roadsides waiting to off load.
Within two days 25 to 50 trucks of asbestos waste could be circulating around APG. This is a recipe for disaster. It could well be a disaster off base and the taxpayers of Harford and Baltimore countries and the State of Maryland will have to pay for clean up. The Local Emergency Planning Committees of Baltimore and Harford country should be informed of this potential. The Hazardous Materials Units of State Transportation, State Police and these counties must be trained and equipped for a potential disaster due this the poor planning of this project.
The project does not ask for or envision a place to handle the waste backing up by an operational breakdown. It does not address transportation failure, the crash of one of these trucks on I-95 could lead to days of clean up and closure of the road. In addition the EA spends more time talking about checking the seals of the trucks than the seals of the bags. (EA2.7) The lack of planning with this cancer-causing mineral does not service APG or the citizens well. This lack of planning could be addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement.
As mentioned earlier, engineering controls EA, 2.6 should be extended to all parts of the operation, not just processing. They should include direct deposit from the trucks, not the proposed open and dump by hand method.
The Emergency Services (4.9) do not refer to Baltimore Country, Harford Country or the State of Maryland, which would be taxed by any transportation crisis produced by an accident of the constantly arriving "asbestos laden trucks".
The EA gives short attention to Alternative 3, No Action, when this poorly designed project should be held to alternative 3 until an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is made and other matters mentioned are clarified and accepted by the regulators, the APG staff and the citizens of Harford and Baltimore Counties.
The statement that "No air impacts due to the operation of the asbestos conversion process (Alternative 1 or 2) would occur". (EA, 5.1.1) is absurd. Of course it is hard to tell when the only indication would be a non-technical person looking for 15 seconds each day. The statement that "no air impacts due to the operations" makes the lack of controls, lack of engineering and lack of testing complete. No reason for controls or testing because we declare before we start that there will be 'no emissions." The authors declare air pollution is gone. If they can just will it away, why bother with the acid. To let this thinking into an Environmental Assessment is very sorry and does not serve the APG staff or the citizens well. For example, what if the HEPA flirtation breaks down is the process shut down during filter change, how often are the filter changed? These are just some of the questions, which need to be addressed in, and Environmental Impact Statement.
The EA authors should hand their heads in shame at even suggesting the continued and increased pollution of Canal Creek (EA 4.4) Time does not permit a review of the harsh treatment of Canal, Swan, Romney and Wright Creeks and the areas, including the Chesapeake Bay, they service. We are flabbergasted that the potential for acid and asbestos contamination of these areas is glossed over by the EA authors. More evidence for the need of an Environmental Impact Study. As for the 30,000 gallons of water discharged into the sanitary sewer (EA 5.2.1) each month, we find the testing inadequate to protect the environment. Human health and the environment will not be protected by a once a month grab sample. The EA, PTC and CA could allow the next 29,000 gallons to be pollution flushed into the Chesapeake Bay if the filter mechanism were to foul the day after the monthly grab sample.
The EA continues to stretch all imagination and belief when they state in 5.4.1 that ABCOV method uses proprietary chemical mixture in the asbestos conversion process. Stating that we really donÕt know for sure what we could be putting into the air, on the land or into the Bay. We know the components, but not the final mixture or the sludge characteristics. These explanations need to be made in an Environmental Impact Statement.
The EA does not serve Environmental Justice Principles well. A truck of asbestos each hour will rumble through this section of the country that has seen so much pollution. Already our state has thousands of people sick from asbestos exposure. Much of this exposure was done by operations that were not clearly thought out or truefully designed. The potential impact to minority and low-income populations could include, misuse of their labor, exposure of their neighborhoods to asbestos, acids and unknown mixtures, destruction of their water resources and wetlands and state and local expenditures that could be used to upgrade their lives. In addition, this population already has had more than its share of industrial and military pollution.
In final analysis we believe that Alternative Three should be selected and an Environmental Impact Statement should be prepared. We believe the current concept, while it may be close to the minimum of the most backward regulations, is a concept, which deserves a truthful evaluation. The success of this project would be of benefit to all of society and therefore it must be evaluated with utmost care. The beginning of this would be the Environmental Impact Statement.
We ask that you will move this project to Alternative three until and Environmental Impact Statement is prepared and accepted by the citizens of Maryland.
Please regard any request in this letter to be a request made under the Freedom of Information Act and the Maryland Public Information Act. We ask that the documents be reprinted without cost or provided for viewing due to the fact that we are serving the public without charge and our activity is of interest to APG and to the public.
Thank you for your kind attention to these matters and we look forward to working with your to review this project with the health and safety of the human beings and the protection of the environment as our guiding principles. We formerly request that an Environmental Impact Statement be generated on the Asbestos Conversion Demonstration Facility.
James Fite, National Secretary
C: Timothy J. McNamara, hand delivered
Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment
Dear Madam or Sir,
Today I tried to deliver by hand the copies of my September 28, 2004, correspondence to you concerning the Construction and Operation of an Asbestos Conversion Demonstration Facility.
The Gate at Rt 22 directed me to the Rt 715 gate. We arrived there at 15:15. At this gate guard A. Williams refused to accept the letter or allow us to visit your office or other point of hand delivery. I showed Mr. Williams the Public Notice, which he found humorous. He advised me to mail it to you. I assume that this advice carries with it and extension of your patience in getting these remarks to you in a timely manner.
In all due respect and
James Fite, National Secretary
Please note that concerning "Directorate" letter, we received word from the Army last month that they were not going to continue the project at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, MD.