Agenda for Public Meeting, July 21, 2021 – 7:00 p.m.

Approval of June minutes

Treasurer’s report

Correspondence and Communication:

1. Articles about railroad sampling in The Morning Sun and the Gratiot County Herald

2. Letter to Tech. Advisor asking for an estimate of review of past bird studies documents

3. Project narrative statement for TAG grant –Gary Smith, Brittany Fremion

4. Conversation with state legislators regarding bird study (see item 1 in New Business)

5. Letter about the Superfund tax.

Looking Back:

An article from 2014 about the dead bird problem in St. Louis, and a discussion about the effectiveness of the bird and nest studies funded by the CAG and MSU professor Matt Zwiernik at that time.

Program:

Remembering long-time CAG member Phil Ramsey who passed away earlier this month.

(see obituary below on the website)

EPA Report: Tom Alcamo, Remedial Project Manager

· Schedule of work projects at the plant site over the next three years

· Updates on heating in Area 2 Phase 2

· Downstream investigation

· Other

EGLE Report: Erik Martinson, Project Manager

· Railroad spur investigation

· Update on bird study

· Other

Old Business:

1. CAG website update – Ed Lorenz

2. PBB Leadership Team update – Jane Keon, Ed Lorenz, Norm Keon, Brittany Fremion

3. Presentation by Ed and Dr. Michele Marcus for the state’s Interagency Migrant Task Force

New Business:

1. Legislative contacts regarding money for follow-up bird studies – Jim Hall

ZOOM Sign-in Information

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Remembering Phil Ramsey

Phil (Phillip G.) Ramsey, age 88, a former CAG executive committee member and long-time environmental protection advocate in Gratiot County passed away July 6 peacefully at home with his loving wife Lois by his side.   Phil was a 1951 graduate of Alma High School.  That same year, he married his first wife Gwendolyn (Ebright).   He worked for many years as a heavy equipment operator in gravel pits in the region and was an active member of the United Auto Workers.  In the 1990’s Phil worked for a number of years on the Texas Gulf Coast, being exposed to even more cases of disregard for the long-term impact of contaminants on the environment.  Following, Gwendolyn’s death in 1995, Phil returned to Michigan.  In 1999 he married Lois (Stockton) and began involvement with the Pine River Task Force, bringing a wealth f knowledge of pollution practices in the Pine River watershed. 

Phil was an invaluable living encyclopedia of local environmental-health mistakes and the potential locations of hazardous waste dumping.   He also regularly visited the Velsicol plant site to check on the work of U.S. EPA and their prime contractor Jacobs.   Despite being one of the oldest members of the Task Force, one of Phil’s prime concerns was to reach out to the youth of the region to get them involved in continuing the work to which he gave so much time.  In 2017, the Pine River Task Force selected Phil as their Person of the Year and placed his name on a plaque in St. Louis City Hall.

Those who worked on environmental-health protection in the region know Phil as a passionate colleague and friend.  While raised, educated and long-term resident of Gratiot County, he had a remarkable national and global perspective on the endless struggle for integrity, justice and fairness in our society.  While concerned with the big challenges facing our county, state. nation and world, Phil never overlooked being kind and friendly to those he encountered, whether a waiter at a restaurant or a librarian helping in a search.   As he made all of us better by knowing him, his impact will endure. 

Phil wished that people would make donations in his memory to the Task Force.  We extend our sincerest condolences to his loving and wonderful wife Lois, his children, step-children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and sister.

Phillip G. Ramsey

“Long-struggle to get old railroad siding checked for contamination” – Morning Sun news story June 23, 2021

Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force efforts have succeeded in a years-long effort to sample for soil contamination where a railroad spur led into the former Velsicol Chemical plant site.

Since 2013, members of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force have sought sampling for soil contamination where a railroad spur led into the former Velsicol Chemical plant site. In 2020, EGLE project manager for the site, Erik Martinson, finalized a work plan with a budget, but the owners of Mid-Michigan Railroad were unresponsive in granting access to the property that runs from the chemical site south along the Lions Park to Crawford Street in St. Louis.

Task Force board member, Jim Hall, contacted U.S. Representative John Moolenaar’s office. A phone call from aide Ashton Bortz to the owners of the railroad did the trick, and gave EGLE access to sample the soil along the former railroad bed.

“Rail cars were parked for days and weeks along that spur, full of chemicals and leaking,” said Hall, who grew up in St. Louis. Jane Keon, chairperson of the Task Force, said the timing is important. “We need to know if the soil along the path of the spur is contaminated while EPA is here cleaning up the rest of the Superfund site,” she said. “They are unlikely to come back once they finish the major work and leave.”

Martinson said drilling contractors are being contacted now, and the sampling may begin at the end of summer. The proposed sampling area is about 1200 feet long and 75 feet wide. A total of 120 soil samples will be taken and submitted for analysis of the full list of volatile organic compounds, including TRIS, PBB, HBB, and for pesticides, including all six of the DDT isomers. The results will be shared with the Task Force and with EPA

Massive DDT Dumping News

Reports during the week of April 25 reported on discovery of massive number of barrels from DDT production found in ocean off Los Angeles. The DDT waste apparently came from Montrose Chemical. There i a link of Montrose to the remediation in St. Louis, Michigan. Not only did St. Louis have massive dumping, in it case in the Pine River, but the contamination of the water table under Los Angeles by pCBSA (para-Chlorobenzene Sulfonic Acid), a byproduct of DDT production, tipped-off US EPA in 2005 to look for pCBSA in the St. Louis Water System. After pCBSA was found it resulted in a successful lawsuit to secure funds from the insurance of Fruit of the Loom and Velsicol for costs f a new water system. Here is a link to one of the stories about dumping n the Pacific: Scientist: Extent of DDT dumping in Pacific is ‘staggering’ (apnews.com)

Worker’s Memorial Day (April 28) and St. Louis

April 28, 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) . The “father” of OSHA was Tony Mazzocchi, then of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW – later merged with the Steel Workers). Mazzocchi helped the local OCAW (the union of the workers at Michigan Chemical) in St. Louis, Michigan confront the worker health issue from the company – especially PBB exposures after the PBB accident. The union calls April 28, Worker’s Memorial Day.

Tony Mazzocchi

Report on intergenerational human health (breast cancer) impacts of long-ago DDT exposures.

Environmental Health News carried this summary of new findings about the intergenerational impacts of DDT exposure. This news is especially relevant to the Pine River community both because Michigan Chemical/Velsicol was a major producer of DDT but also because the firm carelessly dumped large quantities into the regional environment. Former workers at Michigan Chemical/Velsicol, their families and residents f the region should be concerned with this news. See this summary: Pesticide DDT linked to increased breast cancer risk generations after exposure – EHN