Denver Direct: “Chemicals” killed the ducks? “Really”?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

“Chemicals” killed the ducks? “Really”?

An article in today’s Denver Post entitled “Large metro duck die-off blamed on chemicals” includes the following quote:

“No one expected it,” said John Wegrzyn, a Fish and Wildlife biologist who worked on the study. “When we got the results back, we were like, ‘Really?’ “.

I guess Mr Wegrzyn hasn’t been reading this blog or the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s articles by Adrienne Anderson. In January, 2008, Anderson said:

What’s significant about this for drowning ducks, whose feathers are stripped of their natural oils? The fact that the Lowry Landfill, which is saturated with over 138 million gallons of liquid toxic and even radioactive wastes, is loaded with a huge volume of various toxic solvents, whose very purposes were to cut oils in various industrial applications. Coors, the company which dumped the largest volume of toxic solvents at Lowry, used the solvents to clean the company’s huge beer vats. Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) used the solvents to degrease machine parts in its missile manufacturing process. Rocky Flats used the solvents to clean the plutonium of impurities. The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News used the solvents to clean the inks from their printing presses. These same papers and associated media’s failure to report about this permit allows their own and other corporations’ poisons to be flushed back into the public domain without proper treatment. The continuing ducks deaths are just the tip of the iceberg and should serve an early warning system for broader public health considerations.

One particular compound, 1-4 dioxane, is a particularly troubling solvent contaminating not only Lowry Landfill, but points beyond the boundaries of the Superfund site near Aurora. In September 2005, the State of Colorado set a new surface and groundwater standard for 1,4-dioxane at 6.1 parts per billion. Yet in the permit now in effect, and revised before the onset of last winter’s duck deaths, the permit allows this same compound, a stabilizer for solvents, to be flushed at a level of 3,950 parts per billion for every 15 gallons per minute discharged every single day from Lowry to Metro Wastewater. This is nearly 650 times higher than the level set to protect human health, and with little if any apparent consideration for what the potent degreasers at such a volume might do to swimming ducks and their feathers’ protective coatings.

Oh well, I guess we should be thankful that the Post published anything, given their status as one of the EPA-identified polluters at the Lowry Landfill.