Saturday, March 22, 2014

Watershed Pollution Isn't Just A Somewhere Else Story

You have no doubt seen and read about toxic coal ash spills into a West Virginia river.

Or followed the massive tar sand pipeline break in Michigan and its billion-dollar+ cleanup.

Yet there are other ongoing spills with toxic consequences that have not produced dramatic images, but which are having impacts and raise questions about what kinds of business practices and levels of regulation are tolerated on our collective watches.

Note in this most recent story about the ongoing cleanup beneath the Madison-Kipp metals plant in a residential neighborhood on Madison's east side - - and when I lived a few blocks away during a ten-year period I thought the only environmental issue there was the occasional acrid taint in the air - - that Kipp had been routinely flushing chemical-laden water into the ground.

Right under its plant off busy Atwood Ave., near homes and small businesses, churches and an elementary school, and a few blocks from Lake Monona.

In a city that takes its drinking water from wells, not its lakes.

And one of those wells is not too far from where the plant's toxic underground contaminated water "plume" needs to be drained and pulled back, retrieved and properly processed.

So, yes, there has been regulatory enforcement, and a cleanup plan is about to finally begin, but I am asking myself how and why Kipp could have carried out this polluting discharge, and how I, as a nearby resident, local investigative journalist and chief Mayoral assistant for all those years could have been unaware of the practice.

Makes me wonder also what else I miss(ed)?


Anonymous said...

I think people were aware a long time ago. There are a lot of memos back and forth between DNR and Kipp that show Kipp was fighting any sort of investigation with all legal means available to them just to install monitoring. Kipp gives generously to the nearby community center so some of the neighbors were a little hesitant to force the issues. There was also the mentality from some residents that Kipp was there before the gentrified neighborhood so somehow had the right to continue bad practices.

Mayor Dave for some unknown reason wanted to keep Kipp where it is even though at one point they wanted to move out of the city. Jobs were more important than drinking water I guess. The story is very long and complex - I hope someone writes a book about it. I live 5 blocks away and the elementary school is across the street from Kipp. Had there been a spill, teachers were instructed to keep the kids inside and tape the windows shut. Someone also was supposed to know to turn off the ventilation system. To my knowledge, there were never any drills for this. Kipp needs to go.

Betsey said...

. . . and miss-led. . . .

James Rowen said...

Betsey - - Yours was the 22,000nd published comment.
I bow to you.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if Kipp had discharged chrome 6, but a story was published a few years ago that Madison had a level of chrome 6, a man made toxin, that was very high in their drinking water.

Anonymous said...

The plume is " stable " ????

Seriously - so now Kipp is going to suck water and the toxin out of the well 24/7 - where does it go then?

Anonymous said...

Lots of really important questions.... How and why did Kipp allow this to happen? Who at Kipp was aware of this? How did Kipp make such a decision to allow this to happen? Was someone criminally negligent?

There may have been memos going back and forth but there certainly hasn't been much media coverage on the issue. Madison media fails us again. I'm a news junkie and I've seen no coverage of this.

It's a huge story and it's still getting little serious coverage. Who's asking the tough questions?

I think Madison and Wisconsin media spends too much time trying to be nice rather than being tough.