Sonce de Vries
US EPA Region 9

Dear Sonce,

Following up on the UCD DOE LEHR national Superfund site RPM meeting, I want to bring to your attention some background information on some of DSCSOC concerns about the adequacy of LEHR site investigation and remediation. These are discussed in detail in the reports that I have developed for DSCSOC. These reports are available as downloadable files from the DSCSOC website, http://members.aol.com/dscsoc/dscsoc.htm.

In order to understand the issues that you have become involved in you may need to review the reports on that website. If you do and have questions or comments please contact me.

I also wish to bring to your attention my website, www.gfredlee.com. There is a substantial amount of information on this website that provides back up to the papers and reports that I have filed on the deficiencies on the LEHR site investigation and remediation. Again, if there are questions on these materials please contact me.

With reference to the issue of US EPA guidance on Superfund site investigations requiring reliable consideration of the potential for bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in edible aquatic life, please bring to my attention specific reference to this guidance as a required area of investigation/evaluation in US EPA Superfund guidance documents. It was not clear from the comments you made at the RPM meeting whether the US EPA requires that this issue should be evaluated in Superfund site investigation of hazardous chemical impacts to public health and the environment.

I've been involved in a number of Superfund sites across the country and have consistently found that the site investigations do not include evaluation of the potential for hazardous chemicals present at the site to be transported from the site by stormwater runoff that could bioaccumulate in receiving water fish and other aquatic life to hazardous levels to humans who use these organisms as food, or to wildlife. This has been the situation at the LEHR site where when I first became involved in 1995, I found that UCD, DOE and the contractor Dames and Moore did not understand bioaccumulation issues. In fact Dames and Moore produced a report that claimed that bioaccumulation could be detected through measurement of aquatic life toxicity. Those with an elementary understanding of these issues know that aquatic life toxicity is not a reliable measure of the potential for bioaccumulatable chemicals to accumulate in aquatic life to excessive levels that are a threat to human health and the environment. Based on the lack of information, DSCSOC was instrumental in getting ATSDR to initiate the bioaccumulation studies on Putah Creek fish. It was through these studies that the excessive levels of mercury were found in these fish.

The comment made by Dames and Moore and UCD staff that any LEHR stormwater runoff derived constituents would be diluted by Putah Creek water is another of these superficial technically invalid approaches that has prevailed in the LEHR site investigations. With respect to mercury, elevated flows of Putah Creek would tend to carry elevated concentrations of mercury above US EPA water quality criteria and state standards based on these criteria. Under these conditions the LEHR site cannot legally discharge mercury to Putah Creek in stormwater runoff above US EPA water quality criteria/standards which is currently 12 ng/L total recoverable mercury. Within a few years this value will be decreased to about 5 ng/L.

As I mentioned at the RPM meeting the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marines Fisheries as part of their draft opinion on the adequacy of the US EPA proposed California Toxics Rule criteria both want to decrease the mercury criterion to about 5 ng/L. Further, under the current conditions where some fish in Putah Creek contain excessive levels of mercury based on US EPA Region 9 guidelines, any discharge of mercury above the US EPA criterion/state standard is a violation of Clean Water Act requirements. While at this time the state of California does not have a water quality standard for mercury, the CVRWQCB uses the US EPA water quality criteria as guidance for evaluation of violations of discharge permits. Phillip Woods who heads the US EPA Region 9 water quality criteria group can help on mercury criteria issues.

Based on the current situation it is therefore mandatory that reliable assessments be made of the discharge of mercury from the LEHR site in stormwater runoff to Putah Creek. A similar situation exists for chlordane and other pesticides that are found in LEHR site surface soils.

If there are questions on this issue please contact me.


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