by J.C. Huntington
Dateline: Florence Arizona, November 1, 2000
Posted to PoisonedWells November 7, 2000
Covering up the test results confirming the detection of contaminants allows the implication that the detection of the contaminants was unconfirmed and could be dismissed as an "anomaly or lab error".
Understanding the cover up
The procedure for sampling groundwater at the Page- Trowbridge radioactive/toxic waste landfill is outlined below:
In August, Steve Holland, Director of the University of Arizona's Risk Management and Safety department, Herb Wagner, Assistant Director of the U of A's Risk Management and Safety department and Lloyd Wundrock, U of A Environmental Safety Officer explained their version of the April 26 water tests and subsequent analysis to Oracle residents.
Wundrock explained that in the case of the April samples, the lab detected toluene, a contaminant regulated by federal law, in the Original sample from Monitoring Well #5.
Wundrock said that normally the testing lab notifies the U of A by phone as soon as they detect contaminants in the Original sample, but that this time it was different. According to Wundrock the lab did not inform the U of A of the toluene detection until around May 15, some 15 days after the sample was taken.
Wundrock told the Oracle residents that the shelf life of a duplicate is 14 days. In other words, if a duplicate is over 14 days old, it cannot be used and a new set of samples must be obtained.
Wundrock then said that because the lab informed the U of A of the toluene detection some 15 days after the sample had been taken, the shelf life of the Duplicate sample had expired and it could not be used to confirm the detection; a new sample was required.
As a result Wundrock said that he, and Holland made and unscheduled visit to the Page-Trowbridge landfill on May 17 and re-sampled Monitoring Well #5.
Tests on these samples showed no toluene.
Because tests on the May 17 samples showed no toluene, the U of A implied that the original toluene detection was unconfirmed and could be discounted as an anomaly.
During the explanation given to Oracle residents in August, the U of A was asked for their opinion as to what could explain the finding of toluene in one sample and no toluene in the sample taken from the same well 15 days later, both Holland and Wundrock said that the finding was “an anomaly or lab error”.
Holland repeats the cover story to the press and citizens
On Nov. 1, Hanna Miller, a reporter for The Arizona Daily Star called Holland to inquire about the circumstances surrounding the testing of the samples taken April 26. Holland repeated the above account to Miller and even told Miller that "We're modifying our protocol" to assure that the lab called soon after detecting contaminants. A snippet of Millers article follows:
The lab, which performed analyses for the University of Arizona, found toluene, a solvent commonly used in contact cement, at a rate of 3.7 parts per billion in a single sample. The detection could not be verified because it was not reported until other samples taken the same day were no longer useful: A result must be duplicated to be reported, said Steve Holland, U of A director of risk management.On October 30, Dr. Huntington a chiropractic physician in Oracle, called Holland to inquire about other matters regarding testing of the Page-Trowbridge landfill. During that conversation, Holland repeated the above account to Dr. Huntington.
What the facts show
On April 26, a team from the U of A's Risk Management Department sampled the water from the Page-Trowbridge monitoring wells. Cliff Russell, an Oracle resident attended this sampling event, and reports that neither Holland nor Wagner were not present.
The test results
Records recently obtained from Turner labs by Russell, show that the original sample was analyzed on May 2. This analysis shows that the following contaminants were detected in the Original sample:
The lab reports show that the following contaminants were detected in the Duplicate sample:
The lab called
According to Russell, computer logs at Turner Laboratories show that Turner labs called Wundrock on May 5, 9 days after the samples were taken, and informed him of the fact that Toluene and 1,4 Dichlorobenzene were confirmed as being present in the water samples.
These logs contradict Holland, Wagner and Wundrock who said that the lab did not inform the U of A of the detection's until 15 days after the samples were taken.
An unscheduled trip by U of A risk management officials
On May 17, Holland, Wagner and Wundrock made an unscheduled trip to Page-Trowbridge and re-sampled the well that had confirmed detection's of Toluene and 1,4 Dichlorobenzene.
These samples were found to be clean.
"No mistake to fix"
Russell commented on his findings by saying, "The U of A wants make it look like the lab made a mistake in not informing them when they found toluene and the dichlorobenzene, and that the U of A had to fix the mistake by re-sampling the water.
"In reality, there was no mistake to fix. The findings of toluene and 1, 4 Dichlorbenzene, were confirmed detection's of contaminants, found during a normally scheduled sampling event.
"There is no valid reason to make an unscheduled trip and re-sample the water," said Russell.
Test results omitted from U of A reports to ADEQ and others
All documents regarding the April 26 and May 17 sampling events which originate with the U of A omit the fact that confirmed detection's of toluene and 1,4 dichlorobenzene were detected in the water beneath Page-Trowbridge.
On June 14, the U of A reported the results of the April 26 and May 17 testing to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
This report to ADEQ does not include the analysis of the Original sample of April 26 showing that Toluene, O-Xylene, 1,3 Dichlorobenzene and 1,4 Dichlorobenzene were detected. The U of A's report to ADEQ only shows the results of the analysis of the April 26 Duplicate sample.
In addition to withholding the Original sample test results from ADEQ, the U of A report also omits the fact that 1,4 Dichlorobenzene was found in the Duplicate sample.
In other words, the U of A appears to have selected the analysis showing the fewest contaminants (the analysis of the Duplicate sample taken April 26) while withholding the analysis showing the most contaminants (the analysis of the Original sample taken April 26) and also withheld the fact that the Duplicate sample shows that 1,4 Dichlorobenzene was also confirmed to be present.
A report dated October 19, from Dames & Moore also contains data pertaining to the April 26 and May 17 sampling events. The same information regarding the April and May sampling events that was omitted from the report the U of A submitted to ADEQ is missing from the Dames and Moore report. Russell said that he believes Dames & Moore obtained the information about the April and May testing from the ADEQ.
In October, the U of A submitted a report on the April 26 and May 17 sampling events to The Oracle Town Hall. This report omits the same information that was omitted from the report the U of A submitted to ADEQ and the information in the Dames & Moore report.
"The U of A cannot be trusted"
Asked to comment on his findings, Russell said, "The fact that the U of A would break the law to hide the fact that contaminants are now confirmed as being in the water supply, makes you wonder what else they have lied about.
"While this looks like the first confirmed finding of contamination, there could have been earlier ones that were covered up.
"The U of A cannot be trusted to monitor the landfill, the EPA needs to be involved" said Russell.
Dames & Moore report invalid
The confirmation of contaminants in the water supply beneath the Page-Trowbridge landfill, invalidates the Dames and Moore finding that "there is little or no possibility" that contaminants would ever reach the groundwater beneath Page-Trowbridge.
Dames & Moore published this opinion in a report dated January 11. Robson Communities, Inc. paid $30,000 to have Dames & Moore produce the report
Pinal County Board of Supervisors informed
Russell informed the Pinal County Board of Supervisors of his findings at a public hearing held November 1 to consider a rezoning request by Robson Communities Inc. The supervisors expressed little interest and asked no questions.
At that hearing, the Supervisors approved a rezoning request to allow 6,000 homes, a commercial center and several golf courses to be built on land adjacent to Page-Trowbridge.
The images below are scans
of the test results for samples taken from Monitoring Well # 5 at the Page-Trowbridge
radioactive/toxic waste dump.
The images below are scans
of pages from the falsified report the U of A submitted to the Arizona
Department of Environmental Quality.