Sunday, January 24, 2010

Clear Creek Closure - Need for Peer Review

A packed house of between 500-600 recreationists, gem collectors, and other access interests attended the final BLM CCMA public DEIS meeting held in Santa Clara on January 20.
Photo: Health Risk (you could die) Sign at CA State Park Beach
The central theme running through public comments was that this is a politically motivated closure, does not pass the smell test, and is based on a flawed EPA risk assessment that does not even meet the basic methodology requirements of an 8th grade science project. The following was learned and/or restated for the record during the 1 hour open house where users could ask agency representatives questions and during the comment period.

1 – One of the testing roads had just been ripped by a bulldozer before the testing occurred

2 – The EPA OHV testers were not adequately monitored regarding if they stayed on the test route network

3 – The riding times were grossly overstated in the analysis and did not reflect real world riding times or conditions

4 – The EPA did not know that Jade Mill and other sites where they staged from and/or rode through were former commercial mill sites.

5 – The BLM has asked the EPA to revise their draft risk assessment to pull out the statement that the risk to public health could be zero.

One question The General asked the BLM is even if there is some health risk why they did not research how their own agency or sister agencies address public health and safety (i.e. falling in a mine shaft, fishing/eating mercury laden fish, snake bites, falling to your death while rock climbing, drowning while swimming in a river or lake, etc.) risks? Their only answer was that they selected not to do ANY research to see how they could keep the area open.

See how Illinois State Parks addressed a similar recreation-oriented asbestos issue next to an EPA Superfund Site (there are a number of studies linked in the article)

Would a different BLM area manager have kept CCMA open? The General believes that the former area manager. Bob Beehler, would have not told the EPA to amend the draft risk analysis and would have keep CCMA open until better science was produced.

During the public comment period, the chairman of the OHMVR commission said he felt there is a need for a peer review of the EPA risk assessment. The General agrees.

The ugly CCMA saga continues…

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