Sustained Outrage

Nitro Dioxin Map


There was an interesting — and potentially important — advertisement in today’s Gazette-Mail from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s what it said:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the EE/CA presenting the Preferred Alternative for addressing dioxin contaminated sediment in the Kanawha River between RM 31.1 (Winfield Locks and Dam) and RM 45.5 (confluence of the Coal River).

The Preferred Alternative for the Site is identified in the EE/CA as Alternative 4 – limited armored capping of sediment, monitored natural recovery, and institutional controls.

Here’s what the ad looks like:

EPA Dioxin Ad Aug 25 2016


If you want more information, be careful, because the link listed in the ad will try to download a more than 300 MB .pdf file from EPA’s website. You might find it a bit easier to read the nearly 1,500-page report from this version that I uploaded to Document Cloud.

For those who don’t remember, this all has to do with a legal settlement that EPA entered into with Monsanto more than a dozen years ago about the cleanup of dioxin contamination left in a 14-mile segment of the Kanawha River by the operation of the company’s former plant in Nitro. Here’s a link to a story we published back in March 2004 about that settlement. Since the mid-1980s, the state has had a fish consumption advisory on the Kanawha River to avoid anglers consuming fish contaminated with toxic dioxin.

I was told that no one was available at EPA today to talk to me about this issue, and a spokesman said he needed to confirm some information about the Nitro site before anyone could answer any questions I have.

Rather than dredging contaminated sediment from the river, this report — prepared by a consultant for Monsanto — suggests installing a certain number of “armored caps” at strategic spots where sediment is considered to be unstable and likely to allow pollutants to leach into the river. The report explains:

Armored cap designs would be developed for individual areas of the Site as appropriate based on water depth, average River current, River current under flood conditions, ice scour and boat traffic. Areas of the River with the potential for scouring and erosion will require armoring.

There’s a picture in the report that shows these cap designs looking like this:

Armored Caps


As you can see from the agency’s ad, the EPA is having a public comment period through Sept. 24 on the consultant’s report and recommended solution.