Originally published September 10 2015
EPA causes disaster at toxic industrial site where they plan to house homeless and mentally ill people
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) As the Environmental Protection Agency, the government's anti-pollution entity, continues to reel from bad publicity surrounding a disaster its contractors created at a Colorado gold mine recently, the agency has avoided any negative press so far over a similar toxic waste spill in Georgia, Watchdog.org reported recently.
EPA-funded contractors in Greensboro grading a 19th-century cotton mill site hit a water main, sending deadly tainted sediment into a nearby creek. While that incident took place some five months ago, the hazard remains, being spread by heavy storms that are washing more contaminated soil into the creek.
The soil contains dangerous levels of mercury, lead, arsenic and chromium; the flow of the river spreads the contamination further downstream into additional regions and waterways like Lake Oconee and the Oconee River, where many federally and state-protected species reside.
Site was to be used for low-income housingWatchdog.org further reported:
Lead in the soil at the project site is 20,000 times higher than federal levels established for drinking water, said microbiologist Dave Lewis, who was a top-level scientist during 31 years at the Environmental Protection Agency.
He became a whistleblower critical of EPA practices and now works for Focus for Health, a nonprofit that researches disease triggers.
"Clearly, the site is a major hazardous chemical waste dump, which contains many of the most dangerous chemical pollutants regulated by the EPA," Lewis wrote in a 2014 affidavit in a court case that was filed by local residents that failed to prevent the EPA project from creating a low-income housing development.
The site of the old cotton mill contains 34 hazardous chemicals; 30 of those are on the agency's list of priority pollutants due to their "high toxicity, persistence, lack of degradability, and harmful effects on living organisms," Lewis said.
The country remains so focused on the EPA's contamination of the Animas River in Colorado, which dumped tainted bright orange water into the pristine environment of the state's wilderness areas, that little attention has been paid to the Greensboro disaster.
The four-acre mill site features the abandoned Mary Leila Cotton Mill, which actually produced sheeting into the early 2000s. Now a ghostly structure on the skyline, the 135,000-square-foot building with turrets and a water tower was covered in a lead-based paint that flaked off and covered the surrounding grounds along with ash from its coal-burning generators. Benzopyrene and other cancer-causing agents are buried there in high levels. In addition, neighboring farmers dumped pesticides on the vacant grounds back when arsenic was still used to kill bugs.
Initially, the EPA denied that it funded the cleanup and development project that led to the disaster, but they have since admitted it, Watchdog.org reported.
EPA trying to contain damage by failing to own up to responsibilityIn the days following the Animas River spill, which was triggered when EPA contractors breached a dam holding back the contaminated water from the Gold King Mine, environmental organizations criticized the federal agency's response.
"Their response has been terrible. They've hedged the truth, if you will, which puts people in jeopardy because it turns out it's much worse. They're doing precisely the sorts of things they level charges at other people for doing," Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, told the Washington Times.
Initially, the EPA said that only about one million gallons of contaminated water escaped from the Gold King Mine; the agency later revised the figure to more than three million gallons.
The agency has obfuscated over the Greensboro spill as well, Watchdog.org reported:
The agency has offered conflicting statements about its involvement in the project, alternating between knowing nothing, providing only data and guidance, and acknowledging, finally, that it funded cleanup and development at the site through a grant to the state.
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