Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Failure of Modern Mining in Finland, this history is worse

Previously in HS International Edition:
Lakes near Talvivaara mining complex serving as drains for sulphate emissions (27.4.2012)
Emissions from Talvivaara mining complex could hurt Sotkamo tourism (26.4.2012)
Mining raises emotions in Finnish Lapland (10.4.2012)
Sulphate emissions vastly understated in environmental impact study for Talvivaara mine (28.3.2012)
Sample collector dies at troubled Talvivaara mine (16.3.2012)
Chemicals from mine contaminate lake (8.11.2011)

See also:
Environment Ministry to scrutinise leaves of absence taken by civil servants for short-term work at mining companies (30.4.2012),or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=9fe80559194dc542&bpcl=38093640&biw=1280&bih=574

Mining Boom Underway in Finland in the Search for Mineral ... › English SiteBusinessNatural ResourcesShare
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Nov 2, 2012 – Mining companies are flocking to northern Finland as new deposits of ... Earlier this year, a mine worker died from hydrogen sulfide poisoning.

  1. Finland's biggest chemical catastrophe in history | Source ...
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    Pekka Perä, an ex-employee of the Finnish mining company Outokumpu had ... year, a mine worker failed to use protective gear and died of breathing hydrogen ...
  2. George Herald | Mpumalanga mine worker killed
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    3 days ago – ... Myhrer wins world cup slalom premier in Finland Cricket Proteas looking for ... NATIONAL NEWS - A mineworker has been killed at Harmony ...
  3. Accidents - Coaster Force
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    A worker died when we was struck by a moving car whilst carrying out maintenance. Source. .... July - Runaway Mine Train, Alton Towers, Staffs, UK 29 people ...

  4. Finnish mine struggles to fix leak, high uranium found- swissinfo,_hig...CachedShare
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    3 days ago – HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish nickel miner Talvivaara said on Friday it ... year including environmental concerns and the death of a worker in ...

  5. Finnish mine struggles to fix leak, high uranium found - AlertNet
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    3 days ago – HELSINKI, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Finnish nickel miner Talvivaara said on ... past year including environmental concerns and the death of a worker in ...
  6. Preventing Silicosis and Deaths in Rock Drillers - Centers for ...
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    The need is urgent to inform surface coal mine and other rock drillers, driller helpers, ... Of the 23 workers reported, 2 workers have already died from the disease, and the ..... A health survey of granite workers in Finland: radiographic findings, ...
  7. Activists urge Congress to ‘constrain’ work on uranium processing facility -Oak Ridge

    John Eschenberg, the federal project director for UPF, spoke last week at the Energy, Technology and Environmental Business Association’s conference in Knoxville. He called UPF a “game-changing project” and said it will be “much more than just a bomb plant.” Eschenberg said the new production facility will be needed no matter the size of the nation’s future nuclear arsenal, noting that the same facility used to build new parts for old weapons will also be used to dismantle weapon systems and recycle or otherwise process the materials.
    “The Uranium Processing Facility is a stunning example of the worst in government accountability. It is already breaking records for wasting money and it continues to struggle to meet safety and technology standards. We are pleased that the UPF is drawing the attention of so many other organizations . . . “
    Posted by Frank Munger on November 11, 2012
    UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg speaks at last week’s Energy, Technology and Environmental Business Association conference in Knoxville.
    Dozens of activist groups have asked Congress to constrain funding for the Uranium Processing Facility and not authorize an accelerated construction plan for the multibillion-dollar project at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.
    The groups — including the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliiance and a number of national groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility – joined together for a letter delivered last month to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chariman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    The letter, which is signed by representatives of more than 60 groups, cites the government project’s uncertain price tag, which is currently estimated at a range of $4.2 billion to $6.5 billio, and the National Security Administration’s recent acknowledgement of “space/fit” issues that will require a redesign of the UPF building.
    Activists also claim that the plans for the new facility at Y-12 have a capacity that far exceeds the needs for a downsized weapons arsenal.

    “The UPF is being designed with a production capacity of 80 warhead secondaries per year to accommodate future production of increased numbers of warhead secondaries rather than being sized to meet the mission requirements of a down-sizing stockpile,” the letter states.
    In their letter to Levin, the groups wrote that any investment in the nation’s nuclear weapons infrastructure should adjere to fiscally responsible guidelines and correspond to the nation’s nuclear weapons policies. They also said that accelerating construction could actually end up costing more money.
    In a statement, Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance and a long-time critics of the proposed project, said, “The Uranium Processing Facility is a stunning example of the worst in government accountability. It is already breaking records for wasting money and it continues to struggle to meet safety and technology standards. We are pleased that the UPF is drawing the attention of so many other organizations . . . “
    John Eschenberg, the federal project director for UPF, spoke last week at the Energy, Technology and Environmental Business Association’s conference in Knoxville. He called UPF a “game-changing project” and said it will be “much more than just a bomb plant.” Eschenberg said the new production facility will be needed no matter the size of the nation’s future nuclear arsenal, noting that the same facility used to build new parts for old weapons will also be used to dismantle weapon systems and recycle or otherwise process the materials.
    “The need for UPF remains unchanged,” he said.
    Despite the fact that at least part of the uranium facility will have to be redesigned to accommodate all the planned equipment, Eschenberg said the project still falls within the existing cost range of $4.2 billion to $6.2 billion. A firm price tag on the UPF won’t be available until after the design is 90 percent complete, and the federal official indicated that design milestone won’t be reached until next fall.
    About $500 million has been spent so far on UPF design and planning, with the team now making preparations for pre-construction work and purchases for the project.
    Richard Brown, the procurement manager for UPF, said about $400 million in procurements will be made over the next 18 months. Brown said about 800 suppliers have expressed interest in the Oak Ridge project, with about half of those in Tennessee — especially in the Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga areas.
    About 600 people are currently working on UPF design, and Eschenberg said peak employment of 1,500 is expected during construction.
November 12, 2012
"No Lights, No Heat, No End in Sight"

The Aftermath of of Hurricane Sandy

What an ordeal the people of a good part of the United States have been through because of Hurricane Sandy—and many are still going through! As I write this on Sunday, November 11, electricity is still out to a huge number of homes and businesses on Long Island, in New York City and New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Long Island, where I live, has been especially hard-hit. And the Long Island Power Authority is being blasted. There were demonstrations yesterday of outraged Long Islanders protesting LIPA’s Sandy performance. At one, in Hicksville, a placard read: “Shame on LIPA. Shame on its Board of Directors. No Lights, No Heat, No End in Sight.” Another declared: “We Want Power Now!”
Steve Bellone, county executive of Suffolk which comprises the eastern 60 percent of Long Island, held a press conference yesterday to announce that Suffolk “has cut ties with LIPA headquarters and has begun directing local assets to expedite restoring power.” Bellone said that “people are desperate out there. After two weeks they need their power restored.”
Other public officials lambasting LIPA were calling for greatly expanded federal assistance in view of LIPA’s failure to restore power in view of LIPA’s failure to restore power to all of Long Island since the hurricane hit on October 29. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said yesterday that LIPA “cannot continue under its present structure.” Earlier in the week, he proposed that the U.S. military and Department of Energy take over the “managerial structure” of LIPA during the restoration of power.
What, at this stage, might be considered some of the “lessons learned” from “Frankenstorm” Sandy—in addition to how Long Islanders can’t count on LIPA to get power back fully even more than 10 days after a major storm, a LIPA record?
Beyond everything else, Sandy has provided a big lesson on the awesome power of nature in its fury. In this regard, it has demonstrated the folly of spending billions of taxpayer dollars to dump sand along ocean beaches to supposedly “fortify” them, so-called “beach replenishment.” In one fell swoop, sand dumped on the affected coastline in these Army Corps of Engineers’ endeavors up and down the Mid-Atlantic has been washed away.
Yesterday, the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays in Suffolk was finally opened and I was able to look at some Sandy impacts along this barrier beach fronting Hampton Bays and extending toward Westhampton Beach. The highway that runs along the barrier beach, Dune Road, was still closed. Dune Road in many spots was washed over. But viewing what could be seen from the ocean beach just south of the Ponquogue Bridge, one could see the shoreline as far as the eye could see in either direction was now flat all th way to the water. Once it curved upward towards the line of grass-covered dunes. Not any longer. Now it’s low and flat.
Then there’s the important connection to climate change and global warming.
Bloomberg Businessweek in its cover story on Sandy ran a photo of the storm in its full wrath with the headline, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”
Sandy brought climate change and global warming home violently.
Bellone was asked at a press conference three days after the hurricane struck whether, in view of global warming and the greater frequency of major storms, Suffolk County needs to change land-use policies. “I think what you say is correct. It’s something to think about when power is restored,” he responded to the reporter. It is, indeed, something to “think about”—and, more importantly, nations taking action to significantly reduce the burning of fossil fuels which is heating up this planet.
As Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of physics at City University of New York, commented on his blog: “Hurricane Sandy’s the hurricane from hell. It broke all records…Is this related to global warming? First, there is no smoking gun, no conclusive evidence…However, the signs are not good. Second, global warming is heating up the…waters, and warm water is the basic energy source driving a hurricane….So global warming is actually the weather on steroids. This is consistent with the 100 year floods, 100 year forest fires, 100 year droughts that we seem to have every few years. So is this the new normal? We cannot say with certainty, but a case can be made that this wacky weather is, in part, driven by global warming.”
And, yes, land-use policies on the coast need to change—especially the use of tax dollars “encouraging people to live in harm’s way,” as the R Street Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, put it in a statement.
“The storm should heighten awareness about the dangers of federal policies that encourage development in risk-prone areas,” said R Street. “Key among these is the National Flood Insurance Program which is expected to pick up as much as half of the $20 billion in economic losses Sandy is projected to produce. The 44-year-old NFIP is the federal government’s second largest fiscal liability, behind only Social Security, with taxpayers on the hook for the program’s $1.25 trillion of coverage.”
Private insurance companies are reluctant to insure houses built on shifting sands in the teeth of the ocean, so the U.S. government—under enormous pressure of the beachfront homeowner lobby—has filled in with our tax dollars.
Then there’s the Army Corps of Engineers and beachfront homeowners forever pushing for sand-dumping or “beach replenishment.” As Eli Lehrer, R Street’s president, said in a media conference call in which I participated, “I would say the ideal federal percentage for ‘beach replenishment’ is zero.”
Barrier beaches need to move with nature—for reasons including protecting the mainland—and not be tailored to suit real estate interests. A pioneer in the science of beaches is Dr. Orrin Pilkey, long-time professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University and founder and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University.
As Pilkey and Wallace Kaufman wrote in their 1979 book, The Beaches Are Moving, The Drowning of America’s Shoreline, “The beach is land which has given itself up to wind and wave. Every day throughout the life of the earth, the wind and the waves have been at work shaping and reshaping the beach, pushing and pulling almost microscopic grains of sand and sometimes boulders larger than cars…..We ignore this when we built motels, pavilions, boardwalks, and even whole towns on the edge of the ocean….Beaches are not stable, but they are in dynamic equilibrium.”
And as Pilkey and Katharine L. Dixon wrote in their 1994 book, The Corps and the Shore, neither “hard stabilization” or “soft stabilization” of beaches make sense. “Armoring” a beach with stone “groins…destroys the beach. A “groin” will catch some sand and for a time protect a piece of beach, but it does that by blocking sand moving in the ocean’s littoral drift to another beach. As to “soft stabilization”—dumping sand or “beach replenishment”—it is “always expensive and always temporary.”
Then there’s undergrounding of electric lines.
In 1991, East Hampton Natural Resources Director Larry Penny called for putting underground the electric lines running along the eight-mile Napeague stretch between Amagansett and Montauk at the eastern tip of the South Fork of Long Island. Many of the poles holding them had gone down that year in Hurricane Bob and the “Perfect Storm.” The Long Island Lighting Company agreed to his request. Although the Napeague stretch was severely battered by Sandy, electricity in most of Montauk stayed on. “They say undergrounding is expensive,” said Penny. “But in the long run, you save a lot of money in tree-trimming, repairs after a storm and economic disruption—the power doesn’t go out.”
And most critically, Sandy underscored a lethal threat involving nuclear power plants on the coast. It impacted several including Oyster Creek in New Jersey where the storm surge from Sandy nearly overwhelmed critical cooling systems, including one maintaining its pool of thousands of hotly radioactive spent fuel rods. Oyster Creek is 70 miles south of New York City. Could a future “superstorm” set off an American Fukushima-like disaster?
As for the Long Island Power Authority, it was created in 1985 to replace LILCO as a democratically-based public power entity. LILCO also failed miserably to restore electricity after Hurricane Bob of that year. Moreover, it was moving to build between seven to 11 nuclear power plants on Long Island with Shoreham, virtually completed at that point, the first. LIPA was seen as a way to stop the push by LILCO and the federal government for this nuclear program by utilizing state power to eliminate the utility if it persisted in its program to turn Long Island into a “nuclear park.”
The members of the LIPA board were to be elected and this, it was seen, would provide for accountability, with Long Islanders determining, democratically, how their utility functioned, and would provide, too, for Long Island’s energy future to be planned democratically.
Instead, then New York Governor Mario Cuomo, after LIPA was established, postponed elections to its board and his successor, Governor George Pataki, formally eliminated having LIPA elections.
LIPA board members ended up being selected by New York State government’s heralded “three-men-in-a-room”—the governor, State Assembly speaker and State Senate leader. (The three-men-in-a-room appellation relates how many decisions are made by New York State government.) LIPA’s current chairman and most of its members have no background in energy issues.
Sandy and the way LIPA has handled it cry out for LIPA returning to its original democratic vision—so it can truly be the peoples’ utility. “Shame on LIPA. Shame on its Board of Directors. No Lights, No Heat. No End in Sight,” said the placard yesterday. Through a democratic process, far more could be done than simply declaring, “Shame on LIPA. Shame on its Board of Directors”—although this must now be said. If, as originally envisioned, the trustee positions at LIPA were subject to a vote by Long Islanders, people could take decisive action and make changes so clearly necessary at LIPA in the wake of Sandy.
Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Public Health Assessments & Health Consultations


In 1996, community members petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) expressing concern about the incidence of cancer, lupus, and respiratory illness in theircommunity and the fact that hazardous waste is stored and burned as fuel in an energy recoveryprocess at the Virginia Solite facility in Cascade, Virginia [1]. To assess whether operations atVirginia Solite release chemical pollutants into the ambient air that might be related to adversehealth effects in the surrounding communities, ATSDR consulted with local, state, and federalagencies to identify relevant environmental and health data.
Virginia Solite is located in Cascade, Virginia, but straddles the border of North Carolina. Since1973, Virginia Solite has used industrial waste as fuel to fire kilns in the production of lightweightaggregate. The kilns use flammable liquid wastes, including paints, thinners, waste petroleumproducts, and waste solvents. Emission byproducts of this process include organic compounds,metals, particulates, and dioxins/furans.
Virginia Solite has been regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)Boilers and Industrial Furnaces (BIF) rule since the regulation for burning hazardous waste becameeffective in 1991. Since 1991, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ)performs facility inspections to assess facility operations. In addition, the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) has conducted several inspections that included sampling of waste feeds. No known spills or uncontrolled releases are reported to have occurred from the facility since 1991.Airborne emissions levels from the plant prior to 1991 are not known or documented.
ATSDR identified very little environmental sampling data. No ambient air quality data are availablein the vicinity of the facility. A Virginia Solite independent contractor performed a stack emissioncompliance test in June 1992 that detected metal emissions below interim status limits. Kilns 1,2and 4 were retested in 1995, and kiln 3, originally tested in 1993, was retested in 1996. VirginiaSolite performed a voluntary dioxins and furans emissions test in 1993. The most potent form ofdioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), was not detected.
In response to community concerns, cancer incidence and cancer mortality studies were performed inCascade, Virginia and Ruffin, Pelham, and Eden, North Carolina. No increased incidence of canceror cancer mortality was indicated in any of these studies.
Due to the lack of environmental data from the first two decades of plant operations, ATSDR couldnot determine the public health hazard associated with air emissions from Virginia Solite in the past. ATSDR could not determine the public health hazard associated with air emissions from VirginiaSolite because ATSDR does not have all of the appropriate emission data for the facility. Inaddition, no ambient air quality data are available to estimate exposure levels for nearbycommunities. However, the facility has maintained compliance with state and federal airregulations. ATSDR classifies the Virginia Solite facility as an indeterminate public health hazard.
ATSDR released this document for public review and comment from September 30, 1998 throughNovember 15, 1998. ATSDR did not receive comments from the public during this time. ATSDRdid receive comments from Oldover Corporation related to the facility processes. ATSDR updated the text of this document as appropriate.

The purpose of this public health assessment is to serve as the Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry's (ATSDR) initial evaluation of public health issues associated with the VirginiaSolite facility in Cascade, Virginia. In 1996, four community members petitioned ATSDR for apublic health assessment of the Virginia Solite facility and expressed their concerns about theincidence of cancer, lupus, and respiratory illness, including asthma and emphysema, in theircommunity and the fact that hazardous waste is stored and burned as fuel at the facility [1]. Community members living near the Virginia Solite facility expressed the following healthconcerns:
  • In February 1996, a community member provided ATSDR with a list of more than 100cancer and lupus cases in Cascade, Virginia, and nearby Eden, North Carolina. The list was developed from information gathered from two church groups.
  • The incidence of disease reported by the petitioners occurs in greater concentration to thenorth-northeast of the facility.
  • A petitioner reported seeing a bluish-gray emission coming from Virginia Solite stacks onFebruary 21, 1996. The petitioner indicated that the plumes were also visible on March 2,1996, and March 4, 1996.
  • A petitioner stated that a substance resembling black ash covered his/her deck and yard (datenot specified by the petitioner).
The ATSDR site team assigned to the Virginia Solite facility prepared this public health assessment to communicate its initial evaluation of public health issues of the facility to community members, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ), and the Virginia Department of Health.

A. Site Description and History
Virginia Solite (Solite) straddles the North Carolina border and lies in Cascade, Pittsylvania County,Virginia and Rockingham County, North Carolina (Figures 1 and 2, Appendix A). The processoperations and storage facilities are located in Virginia while the plant's quarry operations arelocated in North Carolina. Since 1973, the Solite facility has used industrial waste to fire kilns in theproduction of lightweight aggregate. The raw materials for the aggregate product, including slate,clay, shale, and sand, are heated in rotary kilns to temperatures that cause the raw materials tosoften. The components of the raw material then volatilize, expand, and leave behind tiny airpockets. The resulting cooled stone is a lightweight building material that has been expanded and islighter than the original material [2].
Solite's kilns use flammable liquid wastes generated by the industrial processes of other companies.These wastes, which are hazardous under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)regulations due to their ignitability and/or toxicity, include paints, lacquers, thinners, wastepetroleum products, petroleum byproducts, inks, resins, adhesives, petroleum distillates, wastesolvents, and organic chemicals [3]. Industries that supply the wastes include paint and coatingmanufacturers, autobody shops, chemical manufacturers, manufacturers of printing inks, flavor andfragrance manufacturers, furniture finishers, and others. Until the mid-1980s, Solite also usedbituminous coal as fuel for the kilns.
Oldover Corporation (Oldover), Solite's subsidiary company, collects and stores the fuel wastes onsite. Oldover receives, blends, and stores liquid burnable wastes in above-ground steel tanks.Oldover transports the wastes to the Solite kilns for use as fuel by pipeline 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek.
B. ATSDR Site-Related Activities
ATSDR's involvement with this site was initiated in February 1996 after four community memberspetitioned ATSDR for a public health assessment of the Solite facility [1]. On June 13, 1996,ATSDR Region III staff wrote to the petitioners that they believed the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ), and theVirginia Department of Health (VADOH) were adequately addressing the petitioners' healthconcerns.
Following that correspondence and additional requests from the petitioners, an ATSDR Region IIIrepresentative and an ATSDR epidemiologist performed a scoping visit in the area of the Solitefacility on January 29, 1997. The purpose of the scoping visit was for ATSDR staff to meet withthe petitioners, community members, and the Danville/Pittsylvania Health Department to discusshealth concerns related to the Solite facility. In addition, the ATSDR Region III representativetoured the Solite facility.
ATSDR Region III staff continues to correspond with one of the petitioners by telephone andelectronic mail. ATSDR Region III staff are also in contact with EPA and VADEQ personnelregarding Solite.
C. Environmental Permitting and Inspection Reports
Oldover, Solite's storage facility, is regulated by VADEQ under RCRA for the handling and storageof hazardous waste. Oldover Corporation was issued its first RCRA permit in 1983 and has notoperated under interim status since that time. Oldover currently operates under a final Part B permitissued on December 29, 1995. Virginia Solite began operating under interim status in August 1991. All wastes that can be accepted by the facility are listed in the permit.
Oldover Corporation collects and stores waste fuel that is ultimately transferred via pipeline toVirginia Solite for burning. The waste fuel is regulated for halogen and chloride content, water andash content, specific gravity, British thermal unit (Btu) value, solids, and polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs). Waste fuels exhibiting characteristics of corrosiveness or reactivity, listed dioxin and furanwastes, and PCB wastes are not accepted [4]. Since 1991, VADEQ has inspected Oldover once ayear. VADEQ reports that there have been no known uncontrolled contaminant releases or reportedspills from the facility. Oldover has been in compliance with all permit requirements duringinspections for the last four years, including the most recent inspection in May 1998 [5].
Virginia Solite has been regulated under the RCRA Boilers and Industrial Furnaces (BIF, pleaserefer to Appendix D) rule since the regulation for burning hazardous waste became effective in1991. The facility, however, has had emission controls in place since the 1970s (the facility used drycyclones in 1974 that were upgraded with wet cyclones or wet scrubbers by 1976).
Virginia Solite obtained interim status in 1991 for their kilns, and submitted the Part B applicationfor a final permit in April 1995 [3]. A risk assessment work plan, including a trial burn planprotocol, was submitted in April 1995 [6]. The risk assessment will involve four steps: hazardidentification, a toxicity evaluation, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. The riskassessment will evaluate both direct (e.g., inhalation) and indirect (e.g., food chain) exposures [6].The risk assessment will involve a trial burn and air dispersion modeling in order to estimateairborne concentrations and deposition rates. No ambient air sampling or soil sampling are planned. However, the EPA may require Solite to perform soil sampling in the future as part of the correctiveaction part of the EPA permit.
EPA is the lead regulatory agency for Virginia Solite's permitting process. Through a worksharingagreement, VADEQ has agreed to take the lead on the risk assessment with assistance from EPA. VADEQ is currently reviewing the Part B application and the risk assessment work plan. EPA isproviding technical support.
The permitting process requires the establishment of allowable emission rates for identifiedcontaminants, metals, and particulates. Specifically, maximum feed rates and maximum allowableemission rates have been established for the following: antimony, barium, lead, mercury, silver,thallium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, and chlorides. The facility is also regulated forcarbon monoxide (CO) emissions, which is an indicator of combustion conditions. This, in turn, isan indicator of organic destruction; a high CO level may indicate poor combustion conditions. Thefacility must achieve a 99.99% destruction and removal efficiency rate for organic materials. Thefacility has computer-driven controls that calculate stack emissions for CO on an hourly rollingaverage and will automatically cut off the feed fuel if emissions reach 90% of allowable rates. Inaddition, metal and chloride feed rates are continuously tracked, as are certain other operatingconditions that affect emission levels.
Virginia Solite is inspected twice a year by VADEQ under the RCRA BIF rule; EPA participates inone of those inspections. No known uncontrolled releases are reported to have occurred from thefacility [5]. The facility has been in compliance with all interim status requirements since 1991[5].VADEQ is still reviewing kiln data supplied during the most recent inspection in May 1998.Airborne emissions from the plant prior to 1991 are not known or documented.
The VADEQ air division regulates Virginia Solite for particulate matter emissions. Virginia Soliteis in compliance with state air regulations and no exceedences of visible emissions for the facility arereported [7]. The facility is generally inspected once a year, unless VADEQ receives a complaint orobserves visible emissions from the facility. The last inspection occurred on June 17, 1998. TheVADEQ Air Program reports that no complaints have been received in the past year [7].
The Virginia Solite facility is subject to the federal air operating permit program regulations underTitle V of the Clean Air Act Amendments. The Title V permit is scheduled to be issued by July1999 [8].
VADEQ performed a National Corrective Action Prioritization System (NCAPS) Site Assessmentof Virginia Solite in 1997 [8]. The EPA developed NCAPS to assess facilities that treat, store, anddispose of hazardous waste as well as to prioritize the facility's need for cleanup or corrective action. During a file search performed for this assessment, a memorandum and newspaper article werefound indicating that Virginia Solite inadvertently received and burned 1,700 gallons and 6,800gallons of waste contaminated with PCBs in 1983. Virginia Solite reported the incident to both EPAand the Virginia Department of Health upon discovery and discontinued business with the supplierof the waste.
The NCAPS report indicates that the original air pollution control equipment (dry cyclones)installed at Virginia Solite in 1974 was insufficient and was upgraded with wet cyclones/scrubbersin 1976. Furthermore, the facility's emissions were reported to have improved immensely whenbaghouses were installed in 1991. The NCAPS report concluded that past emissions from the kilnscould have resulted in the release of hazardous waste pollutants to the air and nearby soil. To furtherevaluate the extent of past releases or potential releases, soil sampling locations defined by airmodeling would be necessary. During the 1997 site assessment, VADEQ did not observe any visualevidence of soil contamination.
D. Demographic and Land Use Information
Both Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Rockingham County, North Carolina are essentially rural innature, with light industrial activity. Much of the land surrounding the site is agricultural and usedfor tobacco production. Some cattle and dairy cows are raised in Pittsylvania County.
According to the U.S. 1990 Census, Pittsylvania County, Virginia has a total population of 55,655 and Rockingham County, North Carolina has a population of 86,000. ATSDR used the Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine the demographic profile of persons living within 1-mile of the site (Table 1, also refer to Figure 3 in Appendix A) [9].

Table 1.

Demographic Statistics [9] Within 1-mile of Virginia Solite/Oldover Corporation
Total Population 327
American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut1
Asian or Pacific Islander3
Other Race0
Hispanic Origin0
Children Aged 6 and Younger27
Adults Aged 65 and Older45
Females Aged 15 - 4475
Total Housing Units142

Court-ordered uranium mill hearing under way

Frank Filas of Energy Fuels, Inc. testifies at Wednesday’s public hearing in Nucla as attorneys for Sheep Mountain Alliance Jeff Parsons, left, and Travis Stills take notes. [Photo by Heather Sackett]

Testimony to continue Friday, public comment all day Monday

By Heather Sackett
Associate Editor
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012 6:06 AM CST

Personal stories and impassioned pleas from those both in support of and in opposition to the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill in Paradox Valley dominated the last hour of Wednesday’s court-ordered hearing and concluded a long day of testimony.

About 25 audience members filtered into the wood-paneled room for the last hour of the hearing, which had been set aside for public comment. Placerville resident Dan Chancellor said his father’s home near Grand Junction had been built on a pile of mine tailings. At age 58, his father died of a type of lung cancer associated with radioactive materials, he said.

“Will you fail again to protect me and my family?” Chancellor asked. “There is no guarantee about jobs.”

But Ayngel Overson, a lifelong resident of Nucla, echoed a point of view held by many in the economically depressed West End. She said her grandfather was a uranium miner, and that the mill opening represents jobs in the rural area. She choked up as she described a community in decline and how graduating classes at Nucla High School have dwindled to around a dozen. She addressed her comments to those opposing the mill.

“For five years we have been waiting for jobs,” Overson told the crowd. “We can’t make it anymore … Right now, this is all they’ve got. Uranium doesn’t scare us. It’s something we’ve learned to live with. You are stopping people from surviving.”

But the aim of the four-day hearing, which continues through Monday, is not to argue the merits or dangers of the proposed mill. The purpose of the long-anticipated hearing, held at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge in Nucla, is for Toronto-based Energy Fuels, Inc. to supplement its application for a radioactive materials license and to give those with party status the opportunity to cross-examine the company’s representatives.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a license to Energy Fuels in early 2011 to build the mill — which would represent the first conventional uranium mill constructed in the United States in more than a quarter century. But soon after the license was issued, Telluride-based environmental group Sheep Mountain Alliance sued to overturn the CDPHE’s decision, claiming that the regulatory body did not follow proper public procedure by denying the public a right to a formal, adjudicatory hearing, among other things.

The towns of Telluride and Ophir later joined the suit on SMA’s side. (Telluride and San Miguel County entered into a settlement agreement with Energy Fuels last month.)

On June 13, Denver District Court Judge John McMullen found that the CDPHE had indeed failed to offer the opportunity to the public to request a public hearing before it issued the environmental report and draft license to Energy Fuels. The judge’s ruling invalidated the license and mandated that this week’s hearing takes place.

On Wednesday, seated under a wall-mounted moose head, Judicial Arbiter Richard Dana heard opening statements from attorneys representing Energy Fuels, SMA, Rocky Mountain Wild, the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Environmental Coalition and Norwood resident Robert L. Grossman. In a long opening statement, Grossman, a Boulder resident and meteorology expert who lives part-time in his cabin near Wrights Mesa, laid out his concerns about air dispersion, transportation issues and, especially, the permitting process.

“I’m very concerned about the process that brought us here,” he said. “It seems ad hoc for such a serious topic.”

After opening statements, Energy Fuels employee Frank Filas testified for several hours, answering questions from Energy Fuels lawyer Olivia Lucas about Piñon Ridge. Filas, an environmental manager who has degrees in environmental science and engineering, handles most of the permitting for Energy Fuels' mines and mills. He said the company chose the current site — in Montrose County between Bedrock and Naturita at milepost 23 on Highway 90 — out of a potential seven locations because there is no groundwater under the site, it’s central to other mines in the area and it’s relatively remote with the nearest downwind resident three miles away. The company acquired the site in July 2007.

“We thought the political climate in San Miguel County would make it hard to get a mill permitted there,” Filas said. ““We found the Piñon Ridge site and it matched all the criteria.””

Filas testified that Energy Fuels would acquire 415 acres in Paradox Valley for wildlife mitigation to offset the mill site. He outlined how the mill would be reclaimed by enclosing the tailings pile with a radon barrier, among other things. He said 99.3 percent of the uranium the company mines is uranium 238, which has a very long half-life and is not very radioactive. Filas was expected to be cross-examined by SMA’s attorney Travis Stills on Thursday. Followed by Steve Tarlton, radiation program director at CDPHE.

Representatives from two Moab, Utah-based environmental groups, Uranium Watch and Living Rivers, as well as a Telluride resident and an Ophir resident, spoke out against the mill during the public hearing. The hearing also drew local filmmakers who are working on two different documentaries on the controversial topic of uranium.

Dana, who was appointed by CDPHE to conduct the hearing, will make a recommendation based on this week’s testimony. Energy Fuels’ application will then go back to CDPHE for another consideration. The hearing will continue Friday from and Monday; from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday’s hearing is scheduled to be devoted entirely to public comment.