Town Meeting Report
DSCSOC's Executive Director
Julie Roth
October 1996

When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declares a hazardous waste site a Superfund site, the US EPA allows the community affected by the site to apply for a Technical Advisor Grant. This grant provides funds for the community to hire a professional technical advisor for an independent review of the site documents and to advise the citizens on issues of concern. The Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee (DSCSOC) is the Davis citizens US EPA TAG group for the Department of Energy-University of California, Davis (DOE-UCD) LEHR Superfund site on the UCD Campus.

The purpose for DSCSOC's Town Meeting tonight is for our technical advisor, Dr. G. Fred Lee, to report on his review of the site and address the concerns for the citizens of Davis. We have included in our program some other speakers whom we feel have information of interest to this community about LEHR.

It is impossible to cover all of Dr. Lee's reviews and comments at one Town Meeting or in a newsletter, so DSCSOC has provided copies of his comments to the UCD Shields Library and the Yolo County Library, Davis branch for citizens review. We will keep this information updated.

Citizens groups are not allowed to do independent investigations at Superfund sites nor do they have any enforcement powers. At LEHR, all DSCSOC can do is present our concerns to the responsible parties, UCD and DOE and the Remedial Project Managers (RPMs), US EPA, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the Department of Health Services, in the hope that they will consider them. We have had limited success. From the beginning of DSCSOC's participation at this site, UCD and DOE have engaged us in what I call the UCD-DOE bounce. One responsible party referring us to the other telling us it was not "their" responsibility. This has allowed both parties to ignore us. If it wasn't for some of the RPMs raising some of our concerns, we would not have had the limited success we have had.

It became apparent to DSCSOC when our group began participating in the RPM meetings that UCD and DOE were at odds over responsibilities at LEHR. It seems both sides are entrenched in their positions and in spite of years of negotiations they are unable to reach an agreement. After being told for years this agreement would be signed "any day," as of the last RPM meeting, this agreement has not been signed. DSCSOC believes that work in some areas of the LEHR investigation are not proceeding quickly because this agreement has not been signed.

The off-site monitoring wells that were to be installed last spring are not installed. The reason given is that DOE was unable to reach an agreement with their contractor. We were told that the contractor refused to sign as they felt DOE was passing their responsibility on to the them. This contractor has now left the site and a new one hired. We are waiting to see if they will sign the agreement but another year of opportunity has passed and the work will now be delayed until next spring or later.

This site is not easy. Not only are the two responsible parties both taxpayer supported federal/state institutions, but UCD is the dominate economic power in Davis and Yolo County and both have far reaching influences. It is not easy to get those who are subject to these two powerful institutions' influences to pay attention to the consequences of UCD and DOE's mismanagement of their wastes. It is not easy to get responses to our concerns.

Inadequate and unreliable work has been performed. Errors have been made and work has had to be repeated. In fact, our technical advisor has had to point out error after error. Deadlines are missed, time lines are repeatedly extended. Taxpayers money has been wasted. The sloppy mismanagement that caused this site to be a Superfund site continues. Yet, I know of no penalties or sanctions for either creating this mess or for the wasteful investigation. I do know of no-fault agreements which seem to me to have only served to remove responsibility, accountability, motivation, incentive, quality and care at this site.

For example, DSCSOC asked that all the errors in the previous Water Quality Data Reports be corrected and a plan implemented so that these errors will not be repeated in future documents. We feel that all errors must be corrected in the LEHR site documents as these documents will stand as the public record. To date, this has not happened.

DSCSOC asked that UCD begin to prepare an adequate and reliable plan for the investigation of the off-site groundwater pollution so we could begin to address this plan at the October RPM meeting. This off-site pollution has been known to UCD since at least 1989, and we feel it is unfair to the citizens for UCD to wait any longer. DSCSOC is waiting to see if UCD will come to the October 31st meeting with a plan.

DSCSOC has asked that the limited funds available at the site be spent on the investigation and remediation of the pollution which is or is most likely to impact the public. We asked that DOE and UCD delay their remediation of areas such as the DOE box, the septic tank vaults and the dog pens which pose no immediate threat and concentrate their limited funds on the investigation of the groundwater pollution, stormwater runoff impacts on Putah Creek and the risks to the community and the environment. To date, DOE and UCD have continued to "spiffy up" the UCD campus LEHR site for cosmetic purposes while they have failed to adequately address the off-site issues.

DSCSOC will keep the community posted on these and other concerns. Please sign up on our sheets at the back of the room for copies of our newsletters. Please review our documents in the libraries and watch for an announcement of our Town Meeting next fall.

In closing, I would like to thank our technical advisor, Dr. G. Fred Lee. Shortly after Dr. Lee became our advisor, I remarked to his wife, Dr. Anne Jones-Lee, how hard he was working for us. She stated he had a passion for helping citizens. What a passion he has. Not only did he agree to donate a portion of his time to us but his donations have far exceeded his pledge. He has given his time, whatever necessary, to address our concerns about the DOE-UCD LEHR Superfund site for this community. We are grateful to be the beneficiaries of his passion for helping citizens. DSCSOC wishes to thank our technical advisor, Dr. G. Fred Lee.

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