[Note: This alert was originally published on March 2, 2005. We are resposting in today, Aug 24, 2015–ten years later!– because the announced closing of DuPont’s Edge-Moor plant has reawakened interest in the situation. Alan Muller]
Green Delaware Alert #393
Public hearings on DuPont’s Edge Moor dioxin factory:
March 1 and 2, 2005.
DuPont admits dioxin-laced wastes were used to treat Wilmington drinking water…
Giant pile of poison to be left on banks of Delaware River as a gift to future generations
Community Meeting planned for March 16, 2005
March 2, 2005 This Alert tries to summarize, very briefly, much information collected over a period of years. Recently, folk from Green Delaware and Common Cause have spent many hours reviewing files. Please try to plow through this summary and take action.
One of the great scandals of Delaware is the Edge Moor plant of E.I. duPont de Nemours & Company. In the 1950s this plant became the world’s first plant to manufacture titanium dioxide (a white pigment) by what DuPont calls the “chloride-illmanite” process.
This plant is the largest reported source in the United States of dioxin, a family of chemical compounds of unequaled toxicity. Dioxins cause cancer, birth defects, and other health problems in parts per trillion concentrations.
In fact, the DuPont plant reports releasing more than one-half of all the dioxins reported released in the entire United States. Amounts have been increasing. (DuPont claims to have plans to reduce dioxin output but has refused to provide any details to Green Delaware.) Reported releases in recent years have been as much as 169 pounds. This is about 770 thousand times the minimum “reportable quantity” of 0.1 grams.
The dioxin output of Edge Moor is a story generally blacked out by Delaware’s media, probably under pressure from DuPont. Green Delaware has reported on it at least three times:
Alert 104–DuPont and Dioxin, Monday, July 2, 2001
[current good link: http://www.greendel.org/?p=11111]
DUPONT DOSES DELAWARE WITH DIOXIN, MOST TOXIC KNOWN CHEMICAL, Thursday, May 23, 2002
Alert 242–52% of total US dioxin emissions are from Delaware–Up from 38% in 2000, Wednesday, July 2, 2003 http//www.greendel.org/item.xhtml?name=alert_0242
DuPont presumably began belching dioxin when the “chloride” process started up around 1956. But, DuPont doesn’t admit to knowing about the dioxin releases until the 1990s, and only then as a result of investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Before 1997 the wastes were handled without any special precautions, and sometimes promoted as valuable products to be sold. They were used as road base, landfill cover, for treating drinking water and wastewater and for other purposes.
Beginning in 1997 and continuing until 2001 wastes (containing much but not all of Edge Moor’s dioxin) were piled up in an unpermitted dump on the West bank of the Delaware River next to Shellpot Creek. DuPont has reluctantly admitted to Green Delaware that “Although the mass is not relevant, the mass of dioxins in the iron-rich pile on a totals basis is estimated to be between 294 and 363 pounds…”
DuPont’s Edge Moor wastes also contain radioactive uranium and thorium, arsenic, lead, hexachlorobenzene, PCBs and many other poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals. In fact, DNREC and DuPont claim that the dioxin is not really a problem because it is below the state action levels. (This is similar to the arsenic levels scandal we reported on in Alert 392, “Toxic backyards for Delaware kids?,” <http:///>http://www.greendel.org/item.xhtml<http:///>?name=alert_0392)
Now, these wastes are being sent to a garbage dump near Bishopville, South Carolina, in impoverished, rural Lee County. Green Delaware has been told by the landfill manager and South Carolina officials that they don’t know there is dioxin in the DuPont wastes from Delaware. (Why are the wastes going to South Carolina rather than to the Delaware Solid Waste Authority garbage dump right next to DuPont? Interesting question…..)
Why are these wastes not being handled as the “hazardous wastes” they so obviously are? Minner administration officials claim the wastes are exempt due to a loophole called the “Bevill Amendment.” But, at the same time, they claim the SAME wastes in the big pile are not exempt and therefore are too expensive to get rid of. Therefore this pile of five hundred thousand tons of dangerous wastes should be left on the bank of the Delaware River, next to Shellpot Creek, as a gift to the community and to future generations.
A hearing was held on March 1, 2005, about a Coastal Zone Act permit for Edge Moor to make a different flavor of product. The Minner administration likes the idea and intends to give the permit without any real consideration of what DuPont is already doing to the area and to the Delaware River.
Informed people at the hearing expressed a different opinion. Former DuPont chemist and engineer Glenn R. Evers worked at the plant for many years. He testified that the dioxin put out by Edge Moor is the “Darth Vader of toxins,” causing all sorts of cancers and other health problems. He said, and DuPont officials confirmed, that Edge Moor waste ferric chloride waste containing dioxins is sold for treating drinking water. Wilmington uses this “product.”
Alan Muller of Green Delaware said we were “very disappointed in DNREC’s performance in this matter.” He said that DNREC has been giving out permits “like peanuts” and offered a bag of peanuts as a final exhibit. Hearing officer Robert Haynes refused to accept the peanuts.
A hearing is scheduled for five o’clock p.m. on March 2nd at the Edge Moor Community Center. (Why does the hearing begin at 5:00. dinner time? Good question….)
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW:
Contact Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Ask (1) the giant waste pile not be left on the banks of the Delaware River, but handled properly , and (2) that DuPont’s Edge Moor plant NOT receive a coastal zone permit to make different products until it starts making it’s present products safely.
Governor’s office: 1.800.929.9570, firstname.lastname@example.org, FAX: 577.3118
Come to the March 2nd hearing.
Green Delaware and other organizations are planning a community meeting on March 16, 2005 (6:30 p.m.) to provide more information on DuPont’s Edge Moor Plant and an opportunity to discuss what might be done about it. Put this on your calendar! More details will follow.
Green Delaware is a community based organization working on environment and public health issues. We try to provide information you can use. Please use it. Do you want to continue receiving information from Green Delaware? Please consider contributing or volunteering. Reach us at 302.834.3466, email@example.com, www.greendel.org, Box 69, Port Penn, DE, USA, 19731-0069