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Exxon Fairmont Coke Works

Meeting Minutes.

Fairmont Community Liaison Panel
May 6, 1999

Attendees: Barry Bledsoe, Michael Cummings, Nick Fantasia, Georgeann Grewe, Tom Grabb (for Mark Thompson), Karen Gribben, Bea Hunter, Bruce McDaniel, Barbara Metcalfe, Kevin McClung, John Parks, Robert F. Sapp, Tom Vincent, John Watson, Norma Watson, Marcella Yaremchuk.

Exxon Representatives: Art Chin, John Hannig.

Agency Representatives: Richard Kuhn, Melissa Whittington, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Thomas Bass, West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

Contractor: Frank Markert, George Werkman; IT Corporation.

Guests: Bob Ashcraft; Joe Bender; Bill Byrd, Fairmont Times-West Virginian; Jim Callison, Alert Environmental Contracting Inc.; Griff Fowler; Pat Gilardi; Sam Gilardi; Bob Griffin; John Guido; John Guido, Jr.; John Hando; Scott Jolliff; Sarah Kleckner; Jim Martin; Louis McDonald; Allen Snyder, Alert Environmental Contracting Inc.; Doug Taylor; Jennifer Vargo, WDTV; Jim Waycaster, WVDEP; Carla White.

Facilitator: Roberta P. Fowlkes, Ann Green Communications, Inc.

Minutes: Dan T. Londeree, Ann Green Communications, Inc.

The May meeting of the Fairmont Community Liaison Panel was called to order at 5:30 p.m. by Roberta Fowlkes, facilitator. Roberta welcomed all participants. Guests introduced themselves.

Roberta reviewed the ground rules. She reviewed the agenda and there were no additions. Minutes for the March 4 meeting were approved as distributed.

Special Presentation: Landfill Technology

Frank Markert of IT Corporation gave a presentation regarding current landfill technology. He said ICF Kaiser has been bought by IT and he has been assigned to be the project manager in place of Doug Taylor, who has left the company to pursue other opportunities. He said he has been working on the project since the work began.

Frank said the goal of his presentation is to explain why materials in landfills need to be isolated and what can be done to isolate the materials. He passed samples of materials used in capping landfills. He showed slides regarding materials and methods used, examples of locations where the technology has been put into place and diagrams of how the technology works. Frank also reviewed current landfill regulations for landfill capping and maintenance and groundwater monitoring. [Copies of these slides are included with these minutes.]

Robert Sapp asked if leveling the landfill area meant the waste now on site will be at or above ground level. Frank said the leveling of the area refers to making sure there are no lumps in the land once the landfill is capped, since a flat piece of land is more valuable for future use. He said the material itself will be below ground level once the landfill is capped and leveled, and there will not be a "mound" of land. Robert asked if there will be a liner at the bottom of the landfill. Frank said a liner will not be necessary because the material in the landfill is above the groundwater table. Robert asked how water will be prevented from entering the landfill from the sides. Frank said the cap will drape over the sides of the material to keep water from entering the landfill. He said the cap itself will not be flat, but will be smoothed to eliminate lumps. He said filling in around the cap will provide a flat piece of land.

Karen Gribben asked if the landfill issue can be clarified so panel members can answer questions from the community regarding how the landfills will be handled. Art Chin of Exxon said options are still being investigated regarding how the landfills will be managed and more information will be available in the coming months.

Norma Watson asked Mayor Nick Fantasia to explain why the city ordinances, which were upheld by the Supreme Court, were changed to allow waste to remain on the site. She said an article in the newspaper reported the Supreme Court ruling stated a landfill will never be allowed on the Coke Works Site. Nick said the ruling was not changed by City Council and said the ruling did not state a landfill will never be allowed on the site. He said the ordinance stated hazardous materials could not be left on site. He said the ordinance was put into place because at that time, there was no law forcing a responsible party to take hazardous materials off site. He said once the ordinance, which stated hazardous materials could not be left on a site or underground, was in place the city had the right to penalize a responsible party for leaving waste on a site. He said City Council did not change the ordinance, but instead amended it to state that hazardous materials cannot be buried and left within city limits unless the management of the materials is under the direct supervision of EPA and DEP.

Nick said the ordinance that declared the Sharon Steel site a public nuisance was repealed because once the site is clean, it is no longer a public nuisance. He said the amendments to the other ordinance allow facilitation of the cleanup of the site. He said Sharon Steel's plan to clean the site was similar to what Exxon is proposing, but because the ordinance stated no waste could be left on the site, Sharon Steel was forced to take an adversarial stance and walk away from the site. He said if the ordinance had been amended years ago, the site could have been cleaned up by Sharon Steel. He said a positive aspect of the situation is, by facilitating cleanup now, better technology will be used in the cleanup as opposed to technology that would have been used years ago.

Norma suggested this be explained to the entire community because many people do not understand what has been done regarding the amendments. Nick said erroneous articles have caused citizens to call him and he has explained what has been done. He said the Supreme Court ruling stated the city had the right to tell Sharon Steel what it could and could not leave on the site. He said the amendments to ordinances further state that materials left on a site due to remediation action can only include materials originally located on the site.

Barry Bledsoe asked Frank what the time frame is for monitoring a landfill and the groundwater after the remediation is complete, and who is responsible for this monitoring. Frank said the monitoring is ongoing and there is no time limit. Melissa Whittington said Exxon is responsible for the monitoring. She said if Exxon were to transfer ownership the new property owner or Exxon would still be responsible for the monitoring, depending on how the transfer took place. Art said there always will be a responsible party involved with the site. Nick Fantasia said the monitoring always will be overseen by EPA and WVDEP.

Barry Bledsoe suggested the panel find a cost-efficient method to get more education out the community about the landfill situation. He said misinformation and rumors are contributing to the negative perception of having a monitored and maintained landfill on the site. He said many community members have not had the opportunity to learn about what is being proposed on the site, and they get upset when they hear the term "landfill." Melissa pointed out that Frank's presentation included what could go into a landfill cap and did not directly reflect what would happen at the Coke Works Site. She said when the Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) report is published, it will include what is being proposed on the site, and it will be available for public comment. She said there will be a public meeting to which a large group of people will be invite. Barry said although future efforts to educate the public will be important, he believes that efforts need to be made right now. He said the city ordinances needed to be changed and he sees why they needed to be changed, but many people outside the FCLP do not fully understand why these ordinances were changed.

Nick said he agrees with Barry, and said somehow erroneous information about the site is making its way into the community. He said this is the reason why City Council brought Melissa, Tom and John in for the work session regarding the ordinances. He said Council put ads about the work session in the newspaper for three days, notices on radio for several days and Jennifer Vargo from WDTV did three stories on the session. Nick said although all of this publicity occurred, just 10 people came to the work session and two people came to the public hearing. He said he is glad to see the neighbors came to the FCLP meeting to have a chance to get answers straight from the sources of information. He said he believes this is the only way to stop the flow of erroneous information.

Art Chin said the FPA signing ceremony provides an excellent chance to answer questions from community members. He said special informational literature should be provided at the ceremony. Melissa said the company and agency representatives will be there to provide answers to the community.

Karen Gribben said the community has developed a general distrust of Sharon Steel, and this is having a negative effect on the current process of remediation. She said Exxon and the agencies need to be sensitive to this distrust, explain each step of the process, and answer questions as they arise. Roberta said all of the answers are not yet available. A discussion followed regarding having an informational session before the signing ceremony takes place. Art suggested the discussion be continued after the meeting by members interested in considering such a session.

John Hannig said Frank's presentation had given the group an idea of what a modern engineered landfill is. He said what is being proposed is the consolidation of two existing landfills into one, engineered with the best available technology. He said erroneous information stating that waste material will be brought onto the site has reached the public. He said this erroneous information prompted a call to him from a man who runs barge traffic on the Monongahela River who was interested in transporting such material. John said the remedial action has not yet been determined, and he said there are still many steps to go through until this point is reached. However, he said bringing waste material onto the site has never been an option, nor will it ever be an option. Art said any action recommended by Exxon must be reviewed by EPA and DEP, and the two agencies must approve this action before it can be implemented.

Bruce McDaniel said the ordinance that was repealed was one that would have stood in the way of cleaning up the site. He said the city attorney said the two that were amended could have been interpreted as allowing the proposed action, so these were simply clarified. He said the site has been a risk for more than 20 years, and now that a plan is in place to clean it, there is a debate as to whether or not this should happen. He said this seems almost ridiculous. Norma Watson said a neighbor of the site has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and there is no trace of cancer in her family history. She said people are aware of this and they are concerned.

John Guido, Jr. said he has several concerns regarding the site. He said the site has been undermined, it is saturated and it has open sewers. He also said the site has a false water table and the material that exists on the site does not actually sit above the water table. He said the clay liners in landfills do not work and said there is no way to ensure the landfill cap will eliminate the risk of existing waste. Frank Markert said he is dealing with new data from the site, including the sample wells that have been put into place. He said he is not aware of any mines or caves under the site. Roberta acknowledged John's concerns and asked if he would like to talk to someone during the break or after the meeting to have these concerns addressed. John said he would like to talk to someone to address these concerns, and company and agency representatives agreed they will listen to the concerns and investigate them if answers cannot be provided.

John Guido, Sr. said no one wants to see people suffer at the expense of others. He said has not heard how the site will effect his property. He said he had his property sold as of 30 days prior to the meeting, and the appraisal of the property dropped when the rumors referred to earlier began circulating. He asked if anything will be brought to the site from other areas, and asked how the property will be used once remediation is complete. Nick said the ordinances prevent anyone from bringing outside waste materials onto the site, and the proposed use of the site is industrial/commercial, although exactly what will be on the site will not be determined until the site is remediated and put onto the market for sale or lease.

Louis McDonald asked what determines the bottom of the landfill, and what materials will be monitored for in the future. Frank said the bottom of the landfill is the boundary between waste material and native soil. Tom Bass said the landfill classification will determine what materials are monitored for, and said there already is a listing of materials for each classification.

Unfinished Business

Project Update

John Hannig distributed a project update. [Copy attached for those not present.] He said the headings in bold type are the aspects of the project that have changed since the last update. He said the demolition and asbestos removal are on track to be complete in May. He said the brick and concrete crushing will be completed in the May-June time frame, and the work will take place away from the fence line. He said the crushed material will be used on site in supporting roads or in the redevelopment of the land. He said there is nothing new regarding the Expanded Site Investigation (ESI), and data from the ESI will likely begin to be presented at the June meeting. He said the EE/CA work plan has been submitted to EPA and is awaiting approval. He said once Exxon receives approval, it will complete the proposed work and issue the EE/CA Report. He said the report should be presented in the fall or winter. He said the final element is the preparations for the FPA signing ceremony, which will take place May 24 to be discussed in detail later in the meeting.

Project XL Update

Melissa said the FPA is still in the public comment period. She said no one has specifically commented about the content of the FPA, although she has received several questions from community members about Project XL. She said if there are changes to the FPA from the public comment period, the goal is to distribute a final draft of the FPA to panel members at least a few days before the signing ceremony. Roberta suggested if there are only minor changes, only the pages with changes can be sent to panel members. Melissa agreed to this course of action. In response to a question, Melissa said May 12 marks the end of the comment period.

Plans for Signing Ceremony

Roberta said the Signing Ceremony Subcommittee met and made suggestions regarding the ceremony. She said the suggestions were given to John Hannig, who incorporated them into an expanded plan for the ceremony.

John thanked the subcommittee for its work and ideas and said the insight gained from the committee has contributed directly to the plan in place. John reviewed the plan for the ceremony and described chronologically how the day will unfold. He said the ceremony will take place May 24 at 2 p.m. John said other ideas are still being considered for integration into the event.

A discussion followed regarding how the FPA will be signed and how invitations to the community and dignitaries will be extended. The panel agreed personal invitations will be sent to near neighbors. The panel also agreed a media release will be sent to local radio and television stations and newspapers. It was agreed Robert Sapp will give a short speech representing the FCLP at the ceremony. Michael Cummings also volunteered. Robert Sapp said he would like to receive any comments from panel members regarding the speech, since it will represent the opinions of the panel.

Communication Update

Roberta asked the panel if anyone has heard specific comments about the site, aside from the comments that were addressed under the landfill and ordinances discussion earlier in the meeting. Panel members agreed most questions have been regarding the ordinances and how the landfills on the site will be handled. Roberta said there have been no questions asked via the community information line.

Off-Site Subcommittee

Robert Sapp said the subcommittee met April 20. He said three members were able to attend and the meeting was very productive. He reviewed the subcommittee meeting minutes which include concerns about the site, requests for items to be clarified and concerns about the FPA. He also reviewed the subcommittee's proposal to survey residents within a two-block area to find out what community concerns exist. [A copy of the subcommittee minutes are attached to these minutes for those not present.]

Art Chin offered an answer to the subcommittee's first item of concern about the FPA, which asks for a clear definition of "site." He said under Superfund, the boundaries of the site extend to the horizontal and vertical extent of contamination from the site, whether inside or outside the legal boundaries of the property. Art also offered an answer to the second concern listed, which asks why the word "off site" is not used in the FPA. He said the reason for this is that the most likely location for contamination is the on the former Sharon Steel property. He said the first goal is to understand every aspect of the site, such as where the contamination exists and how the groundwater flows in respect to the site. He said once the data from on-site sampling is analyzed, there should be a clear indication whether or not contamination exists off site. He said the goal of the FPA is first to deal with the former Sharon Steel property, but this does not exclude dealing with off-site issues. He said the FPA is only final for this stage of the work and there may be additional stages of work in the future.

Melissa Whittington said the FPA is not the best document for understanding the definition of "site" because it is not a technical document. She said the EE/CA report will be a technical document which will better deal with technical issues.

Roberta asked if the explanations given also answer the fourth concern listed, which asks whether or not off site issues should be included in the FPA. Melissa said yes, Project XL does not exclude any area, whether on site or off site. She said the FPA and Project XL will not give answers to questions regarding technical aspects of the site, but the EE/CA report will.

Robert asked about the third concern listed, which asks about liabilities. Art said the only potentially responsible party identified by EPA is Exxon, and no other entity has current liabilities regarding the site. He said the FCLP will have no liabilities regarding the site. Melissa said WVDEP and EPA have oversight roles and have no liabilities regarding the site.

Robert asked about the final item of concern, which asks about the baseline human health risk regarding off-site residential exposure due to off-site contamination. Melissa said this issue has not yet been investigated and thanked the committee for bringing it up. Robert said the reason this issue has been brought forth by the subcommittee is local residents are glad the site is being cleaned up, but they are concerned about the effect the site will have on their lives and their property. Melissa said this issue will be dealt with as work and investigations progress.

Robert referred to the proposal made by the subcommittee to issue a survey within a two-block area of the site. He said the subcommittee does not want to overstep its role as a subcommittee of the panel and wishes to carry out the will of the panel. He said it is not the goal of the subcommittee to see what it can stir up, and it does not want to be perceived in this manner. He said the reason for the proposal is because people are more likely to state their opinions and concerns when asked about them directly. Roberta asked if this issue can be put on the agenda for the June FCLP meeting. Robert agreed. He asked that the proposal be the agenda item instead of a subcommittee report, and said the subcommittee will not have a meeting this month.

Robert asked what the criteria are for determining off-site contamination. Melissa said contamination found outside the property boundaries must be clearly linked to the site to be considered off-site contamination. She said investigations must start with the source of contamination and work their way out to determine whether or not there is a direct link. She said there are no standard criteria for determining off-site contamination. Robert asked if any studies have been done in the past, other than the previous health risk assessment done between 1996-97. Melissa said she does not know of any other studies conducted regarding the site. Robert asked if there are plans to study the area and investigate for off-site contamination. Art said investigations done on site will determine whether or not there is potential off site contamination and whether or not off-site investigations need to be completed.

Doug Taylor clarified that all steel leaving the site has had asbestos removed, and it is not customary to transport the steel with a cover. He said all asbestos is covered during transport, and all construction debris which does not contain asbestos but is dusty also is covered.

Other Business

Nick said he received a call from an organization asking to conduct a 30-minute survey regarding the site. Melissa said the organization conducting the survey has been hired by EPA headquarters to interview all stakeholders involved in all Project XL sites. Other panel members said they received a call from the same organization.

Nick asked about a way for the Fairmont community to have a legal standing in the Coke Works Site remediation. He said it was brought to his attention that the City of Fairmont is the local governing body and it does not have legal standing, where EPA, DEP and Exxon do have legal standing. He said to date, the City is not an equal stakeholder with federal and state regulatory agencies. He said EPA and WVDEP have the right to hold potentially responsible parties accountable, whereas the City does not. Nick said after investigating the issue, it may or may not be deemed necessary, but he believes it should be explored. Roberta asked if this can be initiated outside the panel meeting and then results of discussions be reported to the panel. Nick agreed to this.

John Hannig offered an update on a survey being conducted by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. He said the organization is conducting a stakeholder review process and is asking for permission to mail a six-page questionnaire to panel members. The panel agreed to give permission for the mailing of the questionnaires.

Next Meeting

The next regular meeting will be June 3. The agenda will include a communication update, a project update, a Project XL update, a discussion of the Off-Site Subcommittee proposal, a signing ceremony review and a presentation of preliminary soil sampling results.

Comments from Guests

Regarding the proposal from the Off-Site Subcommittee, Bob Ashcraft said the survey should come from the panel instead of an organization from a college or elsewhere. He said he believes having the panel to conduct the survey shows that panel members care about their neighbors.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8 p.m.

Next regular meeting: Thursday, May 6, 1999
5 p.m. refreshments
5:30 p.m. meeting

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