Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More on Elyria pollution by Tom Anthony

Dave Oletski doesn't have email.  Although the City Council voted to go "all digital" three years ago not all the RNO's believe in computers.  Perhaps someone in the group knows how to communicate with him.  His contact information is not listed on the website where he is still listed as the Vice President of Globeville Civic Association #1.

If you've looked at the remediation maps for Globeville, Elyria and Swansea the pattern of removed soils makes no sense.  Less than half the yards got remediated.  The action level was 400 ppm for lead and cadmium, although no NPL action level has been established for cadmium.  The protocol was no more than 8 samples per residential lot, no matter how large.  The parameters were established by ASARCO, which was the ultimate authority in charge of the cleanup.  No "non-residential" property was remediated.  That leaves approximately 80% of the neighborhoods, most of which is dirt surfaced.  So, despite Dave's assertion that Fonda cleaned up everything I would take it with a grain of arsenic.  Fonda also neglected to mention at the Council public hearing that the molasses slurry technology they planned to use was experimental.  He failed to mention that only 8 of the 80 acres was badly contaminated, although they were deed restricting the entire parcel.

As far as the neighborhoods go, you can also imagine that the smelter waste accumulated on roofs and was washed into yards via gutters and downspouts.  Over time the downspouts were re-directed as driveways or carports or garages were installed.  Therefore there easily may be toxic pockets in anyone's yard where there are high concentrations of lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic which were missed by the testing crew.  Furthermore, Region 8 EPA left no accommodation in the ROD for bioaccumulation of toxic materials from the ASARCO slag heap under Heron Pond.  This is a grievous omission which cannot be ignored, despite the desperate attempts to keep our neighborhoods in ignorance.

As to LiveWell's goal of healthy eating and active lifestyles, if you think your kids should be indulging their healthy lifestyles by riding their bikes across the UP trackage at York Street and through Elyria and past JandB Auto Parts and down Race Court past Rocky Mountain Colby and the packing houses and the Denver Rock Island to get to the Platte River Bike Path then by all means buy a house here like I did.  Otherwise, your people can empower the Elyria 2020 Vision Plan that other non profits have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to repudiate.

In the meantime if you have a moment for some light reading you might want to go to this link and do some:

And thank you for having the meeting.  Sorry I don't like waiting 18 months between delivering 5 minute speeches and had to assert myself rather than walk out of it.  Your people can make the call or not as to whether to invite me back.
Tom Anthony

Sorry, I was going from my memory of the one or two Community Advisory Group meetings I heard about and subsequently attended in about 2006, long after things had gotten taken over by the Cross Community Coalition.  The action levels were 70 ppm for arsenic and 400 ppm for lead and no action level for cadmium, although EPA standard for residential soil is 30 ppm.  Cadmium was not analyzed.

Not 8 samples but 3 samples were allowed per residential lot.  The samples had to aggregate a total average contamination over one of the action levels in order to trigger a cleanup.  Consequently if they took three samples from three different spots in your yard and one was 800 ppm of lead and the other two were 100 ppm of lead, the average was 1,000 ppm divided by 3 or 333 ppm so you didn't get remediated.  

For this reason and many others there is no reason to believe that you have safe soil for gardening.  You will also find that trees tend to uptake heavy metals at higher than constituent soil levels into their leaves.  Annual composting of the leaf litter will thus result in bioconcentration of heavy metals.   I believe that prudence and logic indicate it's necessary to have a local soil testing lab that residents can utilize prior to a wholesale encouragement of gardening, composting, etc in our neighborhoods.
Tom Anthony


  1. Anonymous1:03 PM

    RNO contacts are easily found on the City of Denver website:


    Regarding gardening in toxic soils; the greatest danger is the ingestion and inhalation of the soil itself - not the consumption of the produce grown in toxic soil. In fact at normal pH ranges (6.56 - 7.5) heavy metals are not absorbed by plant at excessive levels. Providing good amounts of organic material also reduces the absorption of heavy metals. Utilizing raised beds comprised of healthy soil and lots of organic matter is the best way to reduce heavy metals veggie crops.

    The soil danger in Elyria stems from kids playing in exposed dirt play areas, not gardening activity.

    Here's an excellent summary of the topic from our friends to the North:

    Testing is a good idea but doesn't make the soil less toxic. Taking appropriate action to reduce the consumption of heavy metals is the prudent and logical action to take, IMO.