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Message - A Despicable Springfield Groundwater Coverup
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Posted by  David Rodriguez on February 25, 2002 at 10:44:21:


I want to pass on a very disturbing issue occurring in Springfield, Oregon, where there is a 60 year old Weyerhaeuser Pulp Mill.

Some of you may remember the mysterious 'orange slough' issue from the same mill myself and others previously raised concerns about. That issue itself was a major cover-up by Oregon DEQ and Weyerhaeuser that has lasted to this day. With EPA being right upstairs from DEQ, I've come to realize that they too will probably provide no better accountability. They haven't thus far and even their own Compliance Division helped quell an investigation for the first two years. That's not why I am writing now. The following account of events affects all of Springfield's residents so I hope the readers take action and demand that the news media address what I am revealing here.

A groundwater Clean-up Plan was developed over the last few years by the Weyerhaeuser company using a computer model called ‘ModFlow’, to address groundwater contamination emitting from the mill. As it turns out, the local utility and City also
used the same exact model as the basis for its own Wellhead Protection Area (WPA), as part of the State's Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP), for City wells nearby and down-gradient of known company contamination. That model remains flawed to this day.

I am not a scientist, but I have researched and come to understand many of the problems with that model. I have also worked closely with various scientists
at the University of Oregon on this issue.

What we discovered was that the model used by the City and Utility, which was 'Adopted' and 'Certified' by the Oregon DEQ, and Oregon Heath Division (OHD), were FLAWED. We soon requested that OHD re-run the model by adding some particle tracking where they were previously omitted from the model. The OHD soon confirmed the State Certified model was indeed flawed. However, not before the City adopted the Amendment into its charter lasting for the next 10 years. DEQ would also not fix their certification either before adopting the (WHPP) model.

As it also turns out, the Mayor of Springfield at the time, also had a contractual relationship with Weyerhaeuser and did not withdraw
herself nor reveal the conflict of interest in this matter during the public hearings. The City then refused to postpone adoption of the amendment, even though we provided proof of the flaws during those same Public Hearings. Even County Commissioner Dwyer requested that they delay adoption, they would not. We had proven that a State Certified Groundwater Model was highly flawed. How often does that happen?

Anyway, at the same time the local Wellhead Protection Area was going through public hearings, the final adoption of the company's own Groundwater Clean-up Plan by the State DEQ was also under way. Here we had State OHD verified proof that the model was flawed and the Oregon DEQ chose to ignore and intentionally secret that information as it pertains to the Cleanup Plan. The model runs used by both entities were one and the same. Both Weyerhaeuser and DEQ continue to mislead the entire community through the whole process to this day.

Not only did this model omit one of the most dense areas of the Weyerhaeuser Mill from the restrictions imposed by the WPA, which happened to be the closest to the wells on the entire mill complex, but the model also omitted an entire westerly flow of contaminants from under the facility into residential areas of Springfield. With only one true test well, the perpendicular distance to other test wells was 1,200' and 1,500'. Wide enough to drive a 'plume' through without detection.

This community's residents are having the wool pulled over their eyes and have no idea what is going on here. DEQ refused to require any additional testing to the west (where there also happens to be the large above-ground Aeration Stabilization Basins {old lined and leaking} with dozens of chemicals). There is also a very large old log pond that is 'documented' to have been filled with dioxin laden sludge (Not 200 yds up-gradient of City Wells) and absolutely no test wells located here. There is now an extremely large Cardboard Recycling building over this, which ironically, looks much like a sarcophagus. This entire area encompassing a hundred acres, begins less than 200 yards immediately 'upgradient' of those City Wells. Yet the adopted model shows the area has no influence to city drinking wells.

What is going on in Springfield, Oregon has reached criminal proportions and I have no qualms in stating this. Certain Weyerhaeuser company personnel had already attempted to frame me in an effort to silence me for previously turning them in for other violations, so I put nothing past them. Am I afraid they might pull something even more sinister on me? Sure, but just let me catch such individuals in the act and I could own a mighty big company. Don't think this kind of crap doesn't go on either.

How ModFlow models are being manipulated here should shock everyone in the industry and community. This community also happened to be considered a 'Groundwater Guardian' and a
model for the nation. Sad!

Equally sad, the Register Guard, our local community newspaper, also was party to covering up the problems. I am very disturbed by this paper's behavior in this matter. Is it a coincidence that the paper buys all its newsprint from Weyerhaeuser or that the DEQ inspector during much of this fiasco, happened to be the paper's Asst City Editor? I hope to get beyond this with the RG, but they
are going to have to demonstrate an effort to fix this misleading
information before the public, first and foremost! They have since censored me and ignored the confirmation of the flaws even provided them in interview by a U of O groundwater expert and myself. The Register Guard has intentionally thwarted information from reaching the public about the fraud going on in Springfield.

Today, Weyerhaeuser is again spending tens of thousands of dollars on mass Media advertising. They just gobbled up Willamette Industries in a forced takeover. How all these dollars affect certain local news media coverage when there is
controversy is something I sure wonder about? While some have maintained their integrity, others like the RG clearly haven't and they are doing what they can to keep this cover-up just that, a cover-up.

I guess what all of this goes to show is that a powerful company like Weyerhaeuser has its hands in many pockets and has the power to manipulate data and people in whatever way necessary. What's equally sad is that the agencies responsible for monitoring & compliance cannot themselves be counted on any longer to
guard the public trust. DEQ even promised the community a Public Meeting to discuss the Plan, but once we identified the major problems, they didn’t hold this meeting because they knew we would reveal the adverse findings before the audience.

It was once my dream to build a fresh water interpretive center here in Springfield along the McKenzie River. A certain key Weyerhaeuser official then held a secret meeting with three of my organization's board members and told them the company did not want us locating downstream from the facility. The rest of us didn't learn of this meeting until afterwards. It soon became apparent why those board members had covertly thwarted our every attempt to purchase land by telling the others false and misleading information about the availability of said land. Weyerhaeuser is to blame for the demise of what would have been a wondrous fresh water interpretive facility along the McKenzie River! Just as they cut and cut, in the end they destroy people and communities.

I was also responsible for developing the City's Official Symbol (by vote of the people) which is the McKenzie Drift Boat, which was invented here, and now used around the world. Today I am ashamed of that achievement, because of all the lies and deception I have seen used by Springfield City Officials and other so-called representatives of the public trust. Sadly, corruption appears rampant in this community and even the City Council has remained complicit instead of ensuring public accountability. The City Council had ample opportunity and knowledge that the models were flawed before they adopted the plan. The public is being misled to this day by them too. What DEQ and Weyerhaeuser count on now is that I'm not given a loud enough voice to reveal what is going on. They are also experts in discrediting those who raise adverse findings to their own. They previously assumed that I would be afraid of them. They assumed wrong!

The fact that ModFlow models have been manipulated in such a
perverse manner should raise concern and anger within this group and this community. I previously informed the company who designed ModFlow but neither they nor the agencies have told me much. Obviously its not the fault of ModFlow designers. But the various agencies such as Oregon DEQ, and the Goliath company called WEYERHAEUSER, should be admonished in the public eye for misleading an entire community and citizenry.

There needs to be a criminal investigation once and for all. The public has been wholly misled and lied to about what is the true nature of groundwater contamination emitting from the Weyerhaeuser Company in Springfield. The Oregon DEQ will not openly discuss or pursue this because of their deep role in this cover-up. They would not survive the Statewide scrutiny. As for Weyerhaeuser, if the public had an idea of how much they had lied and manipulated the truth over the pollution they emit, they would be chased out of town.

David Rodriguez
87984 Heather Drive
Springfield, Oregon 97478

 


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