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April 23, 2014

Wasilla’s Toxic Cloud and Why We Need ‘the Feds.’

To listen to Sarah Palin talk about “the feds” and how Alaskans don’t need them mucking around in our business, you’d think she’d have a pretty clean back yard.  If you don’t need the feds, it must mean that your state and local government are doing a bang-up job, right?  Any additional meddling from the government is just going to mess up the good thing we have going on a state and local level. We can handle things just fine, thank you very much.

In the case of Alaska, not so, and a case in point is Sarah Palin’s own back yard.

On a local level, there is nowhere that seems to have more of a “we don’t need the feds” attitude than the governor’s home town of Wasilla.  Some rethinking may be necessary.   Until last week,  on Knik Goose Bay Road was a small family-operated waste disposal business, ironically named “Safety Waste Incineration”.  The operation had only two employees, the couple who lived on the property, and their company disposed of medical and other hazardous waste through incineration.

It seems that for years, this business was operating outside of federal Clean Air Act requirements.  Federal requirements?  Are these just more rules and regulations designed to annoy independent Alaskans, and make us beholden to powers Outside who think they know better than us?

In this case it means that the owners of the business, who had been promising to get their incinerators into federal compliance since 2001, didn’t do it.  Hazardous medical waste was being burned, and according to court documents, “uncontrolled hospital and medical/infectious waste incinerators released significant quantities of dioxins, heavy metals, acid gases and other air pollutants. EPA also found that these pollutants posed significant risks to public welfare and the environment, and that hospital/medical/infectious waste incinerators were a significant source of such emissions.”   The owners of the facility had violated the code for years, and misrepresented their attempts to get the facility into compliance with federal requirements.

So for years, residents of Wasilla and the surrounding area have unknowingly been breathing a toxic blend of cancer-causing dioxins, and heavy metal contaminants including mercury, cadmium, lead and other pollutants.  It was determined that this home-based facility committed 7,336 violations of the Clean Air Act, and the place has now been closed down.  As of July 1, the air got a little cleaner over Wasilla, courtesy of “the feds.”

“Without an injunction, the risk of harm to the public and damage to the environment will continue,” noted court documents.

If you took the 7,336 violations and multiplied by $30,000, (an average penalty per violation) the operators of the facility would have owed more than $2 million in penalties.  But as a “mom and pop” business, John and Nancy Oliver were fined $75,000, and Safety Waste Incineration was closed down.

Three days later, on the fourth of July, residents of Wasilla met at a local “Tea Party” event to grouse about the federal government, and tell each other how they were perfectly capable of handling their own lives, and their own back yards.

A suggestion to those in Alaska who have problems with “the feds” and support minimal government and deregulation –   If that’s going to work, it actually requires paying attention.  Lack of oversight and ‘interference’ on the federal level will only work if you decide to take over that job.  And by all indications, the average citizen seems pretty lazy when it comes to spending their free time paying attention to government, or even paying attention to what’s going on in their own back yard.

I don’t know if there are any plans for public events like those Tea Parties in Wasilla to thank the EPA and the Department of Justice.  But I do know that children in the Valley won’t be breathing heavy metals and dioxins from illegal incinerators any more when they go out to play.

And even though I don’t live in the Valley, and I’m not staging a public event with signs, I’d like to lift a cup of tea and say thanks feds.  You done good.

*****************************

United States v. Oliver, et al._, slip opinion, Civil Action No. 3:06-cv-196 JWS (D. Alaska June 25, 2009) – safetywaste

Comments

comments

Comments
106 Responses to “Wasilla’s Toxic Cloud and Why We Need ‘the Feds.’”
  1. Marie says:

    http://www.paltelegraph.com/entertainment/health/1435-experts-depleted-uranium-creates-problems-for-years-after-initial-impact

    Try to clean up this mess or is this an operation of world depopulation: uk, usa, and Israel. World War 3 will be arriving in the air soon.

    Know anyone coming back from Irag, or any middle east country have them tested, asap.

  2. Anne says:

    Growing up, I thought all environmentalist were bad.
    After a laundry list of environmental disasters, I realized they could be right…rarely right.
    When unable to look away from the coverage of environmental, economic and social disaster in our own back yard, I realized we were living through the “impossibly unlikely & ultimately completly underestimated” disaster the environmentists had predicted.
    The medical specialist who diagnosed me with an incurable degenerative illness, dismissed my claim I lived my life in “ecologically pristine Alaska.” He advised me drinking well water (arsenic) or playing near the train tracks(herbicides), or the over zealous application of pesticides were potential sources of neurotoxin exposure.

  3. 22 miles says:

    Elaine Says:
    How many children born with Down syndrome and other birth defects in this area? How many cases of leukemia and other kinds of cancer?

    Good questions. I noticed from a few contacts that alcohol and drugs are accepted rights of passage and integral to large parts of the underage community of the area. They have babies and many marry young. I’ve tried to find obituiaries about babies and young adults that suddenly die. It looks like the record keepers of the area are slackers. I have no way to tell if more babies suddenly die there or why. It is questionable why so many do die. If the community does not want to have accurate and open record keeping it looks like we will never know. I live in a larger area and know many teens and young adults. I don’t know of any babies that die like I’ve read about in the Wasilla area. Since these are teens that look like they have serious alchol and drug abuse, I’ve guessed that was what poisons them.
    P.S.: Wanted to add great post!

  4. 22 miles says:

    Elaine Says:
    How many children born with Down syndrome and other birth defects in this area? How many cases of leukemia and other kinds of cancer?

    Good questions. I noticed from a few contacts that alcohol and drugs are accepted rights of passage and integral to large parts of the underage community of the area. They have babies and many marry young. I’ve tried to find obituiaries about babies and young adults that suddenly die. It looks like the record keepers of the area are slackers. I have no way to tell if more babies suddenly die there or why. It is questionable why so many do die. If the community does not want to have accurate and open record keeping it looks like we will never know. I live in a larger area and know many teens and young adults. I don’t know of any babies that die like I’ve read about in the Wasilla area. Since these are teens that look like they have serious alchol and drug abuse, I’ve guessed that was what poisons them.

  5. lysistrata says:

    @99 – Very interesting experience. Sometimes I think all laws should include “sunset” provisions, meaning that they expire after a certain length of time. Ideally, it forces the lawmakers to take a second look at the issue, consider what’s worked and what needs changing, and refine the process. Especially environmental laws, where the science and technology are constantly developing. But the downside is that it just provides more opportunity for special interest money to distort the process, and we’ve all seen how special interests can infect our environmental protection systems over the last eight years.

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    9 different folks) = (different folks )
    when sticky shift key and poor proofreading are corrected for…

  7. Alaska Pi says:

    @97 lysistrata
    ” It’s like we started from a very simple idea (”Don’t mess in other peoples’ backyards”), but this idea has metastasized into volumes of rules and regulations defining exactly what “messing” is, whose backyard counts, and precisely what amounts of what pollutants are ok before you’ve created a mess”
    ————–
    I was a water treatment operator for 11 ‘non- community’ systems when the Clean Drinking Water Act became law. The early days after the legislation were marked by lots of education from and co-operative collaboration and real assistance to help get those systems in compliance with health officials.
    Within a few short years the general tenor of that relationship shifted to the stasis which affects far too many sensible ideas a few years into a project.

    Several attempts on my part to do an end-run around those who held the purse strings on the water systems and were dragging their feet on addressing some last lingering serious problems resulted in less than satisfactory answers from officials 9 different folks than the original brigade) on the order of- “do you realize YOU could lose YOUR license for these continued violations? ”
    Of course I realized that! Duh.
    And found a law which focussed more and more on the status of my license WITHOUT regard to the people who made the decisions I had to work within was certainly flawed.

    I spent months,somewhere along the way, on and off, reading the testimony to Congress by water industry folks which was used to develop the Act and you are ENTIRELY correct about the definition, rules making thingy! While it would be foolish to expect Congress or our own Legs to become experts on everything they are called on to regulate, I think we are way overdue for a better way of vetting industry info used in developing laws, quicker returns to issues to see if we are doing what we said we wanted to, AND leaving options open for court remedy at the everyday person level.
    IF we are truly a nation of laws, we need to be ready to fix em when they don’t work!
    And- I agree with AKM, that everyday folks need to step up to the plate and be part of the solution…wasting and throwing around perfectly good tea bags doesn’t elect better Legs…

  8. scout says:

    AKM, I think it is James (not John) and Nancy Oliver.

  9. lysistrata says:

    @94 – Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think you’ve illustrated the madness that is the administrative state. “Tangled mess” is exactly right. It’s like we started from a very simple idea (“Don’t mess in other peoples’ backyards”), but this idea has metastasized into volumes of rules and regulations defining exactly what “messing” is, whose backyard counts, and precisely what amounts of what pollutants are ok before you’ve created a mess. Which is what makes me think that we’re much further from the goal of actually protecting our environment than we were when the idea was simple.

  10. lysistrata says:

    @93 – It’s a minor distinction. Lawyers know anybody can sue for anything; winning is a different matter. As long as EPA follows the rules Congress sets up, it is acting legally and a lawsuit will go nowhere. If Congress sets up lousy rules that don’t protect us, our only recourse is to elect new legislators and demand that they change the rules. Talk about a slow way to combat pollution …

  11. Marie says:

    http://www.fluoridealert.org/fluoride-facts.htm

    Why is Juneau, the only city in Alaska, that voted out the use of fluoride in their water? Are they smarter than the rest of us, or chemically free.

    Above Link will help you understand, also look into the whole site for answers on the main page, there you will see the victory of Juneau voting it out.

    Fluoride in the water supply by the Fed. Us government Corporation to dumb you down, from thinking and debate. It wants to destroy you from within, and make you robot to control you.

  12. AKMFan says:

    @89 Alaska Pi

    I will ask to confirm answers on your questions.

    My best guess on your first question of WHY EPA was asking the medical waste “suppliers” based on my reading of the opinion only is that they figured out that the Olivers were being less than upfront about things so they went to the source to try and independently verify things on their own.

    I will, however, ask if I can get some better clarification on that.

    I am fairly certain that contact with the Dept of Corrections is going to be necessary to answer why they continued to do business with the Olivers, but I will ask on that as well.

    RE: Exxon, I was told that is handled by Environmental Crimes rather than Envionmental Enforcement.

    I am going to try and get a better description of how exactly a case like this plays out from start to finish (ie: when does EPA get involved etc) and will send it to AKM so people can get a better understanding. I am unsure what other cases my be currently going on in AK, but I will see if I can find out that information at well.

  13. Alaska Pi says:

    @92 lysistrata -
    “The bottom line is that the EPA is not a stakeholder in a polluted community. They simply aren’t motivated to fix the problem – their interest is in complying with their statutory mandate so they can’t be sued. I agree that environmental cases can take years, but waiting for the EPA to grow a pair hardly seems like a satisfying use of federal government resources.”
    ————————————————-

    I think this is where Bretta’s political will thingy comes into play-
    Failing to fund for investigations/investigators, backburnering issues, etc percolate down…
    Failure of Congress to put backbone into penalties…
    blah,blah,blah…

    Direct redress IS too often stymied, as you say, by the fed and the state, in cases where lawmakers have failed to provide proper backup/backbone to deal with permit/license infractions, violations to make permits a reliable indicator of compliance.
    Also- failure of administrative bodies to assure proper funding and internal audits to check whether EPA or like bodies are meeting their regulatory obligations FULLY can perc down from disinterested or hostile adminstrators/executives…

    Yarf- we humans can really get snarled up regularly… whether an idea started out sensibly so often means nothing in the resultant tangled mess.

  14. TBNTJudy says:

    lysistrata said: “their interest is in complying with their statutory mandate so they can’t be sued.”

    Not sure if you meant “won’t be sued” as opposed to “can’t be sued.” The EPA most definitely can be, and has been, sued.

  15. lysistrata says:

    @83 – What folks don’t understand is that federal environmental laws do not really protect the environment. What they do is authorize pollution and try to regulate it. Ordinary neighbors of big polluters had a lot more rights when we could go to court and argue that the pollution was a “nuisance” or was causing a trespass on our property. Now the polluters can just show you their permit and you’ll be thrown out of court, regardless of whether they are impacting your life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Tough luck, buster.

    The bottom line is that the EPA is not a stakeholder in a polluted community. They simply aren’t motivated to fix the problem – their interest is in complying with their statutory mandate so they can’t be sued. I agree that environmental cases can take years, but waiting for the EPA to grow a pair hardly seems like a satisfying use of federal government resources.

  16. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    Oh crap…….I didn’t know permafrost melting would release tons of carbon and methane, I thought a structural problem.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/07/01/2613514.htm

    “The amount of carbon locked away in frozen soils in the far Northern Hemisphere is double previous estimates and rapid melting could accelerate global warming, warns a new study.

    Large areas of northern Russia, Canada, Nordic countries and Alaska have deep layers of frozen soil near the surface called permafrost.

    Global warming has already triggered rapid melting of the permafrost in some areas, releasing carbon dioxide and methane.

    As the world gets warmer, more of these gases are predicted to be released and could trigger a tipping point in which huge amounts of the gases flood the atmosphere, rapidly driving up temperatures, scientists say.”

  17. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    There is no way the state of AK should do business with Exxon.

    http://current.com/items/90445308_after-sabotaging-own-oil-wells-exxon-faces-1-billion-in-fines.htm

    “O, those oil companies; they sure do love to play dirty. And the biggest US oil company, Exxon Mobil, has just got caught with its hand in the well–the oil well that it purposefully sabotaged so no other company could use, that is. The Texas General Land Office has just revealed that Exxon “maliciously” destroyed its own oil fields so that no one else would be able to tap them–and it’s getting slapped with a $1 billion fine for the crime. And wait till you hear what they did to the wells–and what that fine will go towards cleaning up.

    It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty disgusting. According to Bloomberg:

    Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the land office that oversees oil leases that help fund Texas schools, “

  18. Alaska Pi says:

    @84 AKMFan-

    I missed and /or didn’t address clearly 2 things yesterday-

    1-
    Early in the judge’s ruling mention is made that

    “Requirements and verify the claim to the co-fired combustor exemption.
    68. In connection with his investigation of the situation, Mr. Pavitt gathered
    information from area generators of hospital/medical/infectious waste, including the
    Olivers’ largest customers. The information included data regarding the types and
    amounts of wastes the Olivers received for incineration.”

    Later mentions include remarks that that many customers left but 3- including SoA Corrections -continued to do business with these folks.

    While we don’t generally charge customers with policing an industry/business for compliance, as they get to presume a standing license/permit is adequate for their purposes, I find it unsettling that the SofA continued to have contracts for service with this facility after being asked what they added to the mix with their own waste.
    Does the EPA say WHY they are asking customers these types of questions? Was there ever an inhouse investigation at Corrections when contracts were up for renewal about whether the proposed provider might not be acceptable?
    And so on…
    These are state contracts- providing for public monies to be spent wisely and within the context of public well-being should be checked for adherence of supplier/vendor/provider compliance to law, in my not-very-humble opinion.

    2-As it is apparent Alaska deferred to the EPA here, by not meeting or exceeding federal regs on it’s own-
    “3. The Federal Plan Requirements apply to owners and operators of
    hospital/medical/infectious waste incinerators (“HMIWI”) constructed on or before
    June 20, 1996, and located in states which did not adopt a state plan to implement
    EPA’s standards of performance for HMIWI. 40 C.F.R. § 62.14400; 65 Fed. Reg.
    49868, 49870, 49874 (Aug. 15, 2000).
    4. The State of Alaska did not adopt a plan to implement EPA’s standards of
    performance for HMIWI.”

    we have the twisted schizophrenia Alaska has about the fed right in front of our faces.
    We can’t/don’t want to deal with something and defer to the fed and then yap about the outcome.

  19. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    whoa……..this is pathetic

    http://www.thecleanestline.com/2008/04/breakin-the-law.html

    “A Colorado man says he was accused of violating postal regulations for reusing a United States Postal Service priority mail cardboard box to send something.

    Gary Adler said he was just recycling a box that was going to be thrown in the trash, but according to the Postal Service that kind of repurposing is not allowed.”

  20. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    wow, read the info at this link, even federal oversight sometimes isn’t enough. there are a lot of examples of toxic pollution sites out there and a good point made is that air knows no boundaries, there is no containing something in the air.

    http://www.commongroundcommonsense.org/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t78324.html

    “Few have ever heard of Reveilletown, Louisiana. In 1987 30 families, in what was then a poor black community next to Georgia Gulf’s flagship plant, sued the company alleging that their land was packed with hidden toxic contamination. The company responded by turning the claims into secrets, buying up the town, paying the residents for their homes, leveling the entire neighborhood, and requiring that no information on what had happened to the health of the people would ever become public. Some of the local environmental and community advocates protested that this solution removed the people but did not remove the hazards. Silence was bought and research stopped.”

  21. Say NO to Palin in Politics says:

    So where is the waste going now? and what is the “safe” way to dispose it? where do they put this stuff all over the country?

  22. greatgrammy1 says:

    While reading about the clean air act, it seems that the Alaska DEC was also in violation for not following up on the 7,000 violations before the feds finally shut them down. I’m with Elaine. How many DS, cancer and other serious ilnesses have been reported since these violations began.

  23. AKMFan says:

    A few more tidbits I have discovered regarding this case:

    1. The PDF is the Judge’s Opinion in the case, so the facts presented are the ones that *he* felt were pertinent, there may be more that isn’t in the report and I’m hoping to find out if that is the case on Monday.

    2. I, too, was concerned about the ground water issue so asked about that and was told that DoJ did not bring a Clean Water Act case against this company. I was told there could be 2 possible reasons for that: 1) there were not any violations in the manner in which the waste was stored (it was not stored on grass, but on an appropriate concrete slab or other safe storage method) or 2) when the inspector was at the facility and saw a violation he informed the owners and they complied with proper storage to avoid having a case brought against them for that as well.

    Since there appears to be nothing about improper storage in the Judge’s Opinion and there wasn’t a Clean Water Act case brought, it’s likely that ground water is not an issue.

    I do know that for many places that EPA regulates they are REQUIRED to have a certain number of ground water wells and they are to be tested weekly and the results are supposed to be forwarded to EPA.

    I am watching the comments and trying to find answers for things that are being brought up here on mudflats.

    If I can find out any further information, I will relay it to AKM since this thread will get buried before too long.

  24. AKMFan says:

    For people asking why it took so long to get this place shut down, EPA did everything they could to get these people into compliance. They gave them tons of chances to get in compliance.

    If you read the PDF that AKM has linked, it does show a lot of the history regarding trying to get them in compliance.

    Basically, these people lied to EPA for many years when EPA was trying diligently to work with them.

    Environmental cases are extremely slow moving creatures. It’s not like a criminal case where things are moved along quickly to make sure people’s rights are preserved. It’s not unusual for big environmental cases to take *decades* to come to trail or be settled.

    EPA and DoJ’s environmental enforcement division had a really hard time getting stuff done under Bush. He made things much more lax, as I understand it.

    Sadly, there never seems to be a shortage of environmental cases. I figured most were against big companies like Shell, Exxon etc. I believe those do make up the bulk of their workload, but there are more small businesses than I imagined.

  25. democracy7 says:

    Smaller government works, only if everyone is willing to be their own watchdog. It is obvious that the couple that ran the business made many empty promises and so it continues to contaminate through the years.
    In addition to playing watchdog, you also have to have the means and determination to file suit.
    Either nobody had the money, they didn’t care enough, or they were oblivious to what was going on at the farm.

  26. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    @ AK Pet Mom

    I just read your Wasilla post – I would do EXACTLY the same for my town, too – also, if needed. Of course you love where you live, and have put up with even more crap than other residents in the state. I can’t imagine – it was bad enough in Juneau during the Legislative session when we put up with a lot of attention.

    I’m also glad to hear from you that the site is at a distance!

  27. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    Oh no. First the Arctic Blob, now the Wasilla Toxic Cloud. We still don’t know why we have a blob, nor do I know why a small town business would poison its neighbors and customers! Oh, but I guess they must have poisoned themselves in the process since they lived on the disposal property.

    Too dumb and weird to sink in – human acts such as these just do not compute.

  28. lysistrata says:

    In defense of us small government types, private citizens can bring enforcement suits under the Clean Air Act. See, one of the problems with having so gosh darn many laws is that people start to lose track of what rights they have. Anybody in Wasilla could have taken this to federal court years ago.

  29. Alaska Pi says:

    @68 Bretta
    This action began well before the ghastly gov arrived on the scene…
    I’m not standing up for her- but we had plenty of problems before she arrived and will have plenty after she ( thank the ducks ) goes…

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d96f984dfb3ff7718525735900400c29/12eadddaaa4f0773852571d4006a1a3d!OpenDocument&Highlight=2,waste

  30. Rita says:

    One note: 7,000+ violations at $30,000 each would yield a fine in excess of $210 million. That’s $210,000,000.00

  31. BigSlick says:

    The location 15 miles away (as the crow flies) might make you feel safe, but it surely does not make you safe when the winds blow predominantly from the location on Knik Goose Bay Road towards Wasilla. Please be aware of what even small amounts of dioxin can do to you and the ones you love.

    http://dioxinindia.rediffiland.com/blogs/2007/06/12/Dioxin-incident.html

    I have seen the effects firsthand in Asia. Please don’t let this happen to your loved ones.

  32. BigSlick says:

    BigSlick Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    July 17th, 2009 at 9:30 PM

    56
    AKPetMom Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    I apologize to anyone that I might have offended with my “rant” regarding Wasilla and why it’s special to me.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I for one took no offense. You make very valid points about taunts becoming disrespectful, and I agree that some of the comments made here about Wasilla and its people cross the line.

    One thing I want to point out to you is that dioxin in your air is dangerous in any amount. I have also noticed an article that claims the Olivers plan to appeal and implies that they will continue to burn toxic waste in defiance of the Fed order because of their alleged pattern of past fraudulent behavior.

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/FBDA68B96E1F88B4852575E1007E00F0

  33. BigSlick says:

    56
    AKPetMom Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    I apologize to anyone that I might have offended with my “rant” regarding Wasilla and why it’s special to me.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I for one took no offense. You make very valid points about taunts becoming disrespectful, and I agree that some of the comments made here about Wasilla and its people cross the line.

    One thing I want to point out to you is that dioxin in your air is dangerous in any amount. I have also noticed an article that claims the Olivers plan to appeal and implies that they will continue to burn toxic waste in defiance of the Fed order because of their alleged pattern of past fraudulent behavior.

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/FBDA68B96E1F88B4852575E1007E00F0

    The location 15 miles away (as the crow flies) might make you feel safe, but it surely does not make you safe when the winds blow predominantly from the location on Knik Goose Bay Road towards Wasilla. Please be aware of what even small amounts of dioxin can do to you and the ones you love.

    http://dioxinindia.rediffiland.com/blogs/2007/06/12/Dioxin-incident.html

    I have seen the effects firsthand in Asia. Please don’t let this happen to your loved ones.

  34. Blue_in_AK says:

    AKPetMom, when I first came to Alaska in 1972, Wasilla was just a tiny little town, kind of like Talkeetna, and it had kind of the same atmosphere. I know of a lot of people who moved from Anchorage to Wasilla to get a more “country” feel, but I also think at some point right-wing white people in Anchorage who didn’t like the increasing diversity here started migrating out there, taking their Bible-thumping with them. I mourn the loss of old Wasilla. :(

  35. Gemini says:

    Just wondering … Does it seem a little odd that people (read, state politicians or people) who accept more fed dollars than they contribute could even think about saying ‘we don’t need the feds?’ Without ‘the feds,’ wouldn’t that be kind of like shooting oneself in the foot?

  36. justafarmer says:

    to continue my rant about the coal companies and power plants…
    Our electric bills here have doubled in some areas, tripled in others. It’s coal from under our feet! They are wrecking Appalachia but they don’t care (because they don’t live here).
    A couple years ago, an abandoned mine had an underground slime water catchment thingie collapse…it spewed into the local stream, which led into the Big Sandy, which in turn headed into the Ohio River and the crap got to at least Cincinnati. Lots of Ohio River towns had to shut off their municipal water supplies because they get it from the river.
    Was there a fine?
    Nope.

  37. Bretta says:

    Re: Alaska Pi @ #55 July 17th, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    It *is* on the Ghastly Guv. The enforcement issues are forwarded up the chain of command.
    If the administration, i.e., leadership, does not want the regulations enforced, it does not happen. It is leadership’s responsibility to insure the laws, statutes and regulations of the State of Alaska are viable.

    It is the responsibility of the regulators to make sure all of the technical “ducks are in a row” prior to sending an enforcement action up the chain.

    That way, if a political decision is made to let a polluter off the hook, the distinction is clear. Outrage can be properly directed.

    I agree that all of the story has not bubbled to the surface yet.

  38. justafarmer says:

    AKPetMom, I’m off to bed pretty soon but wanted to mention that life here in Appalachia hasn’t changed much in a couple hundred years for most of us.
    This mountaintop removal coal mining thing (well, just about EVERY thing about hte coal companies) chaps my butt.
    The coal companies are ruining our ground water AND our streams…
    The coal-fired electric plants on the Ohio River are spewing all sorts of crap into the air, while they say “we’re tweaking the scrubbers” (yeah, I got their tweaking). I can see three of those plants once I get out of the holler, and one of them have been spewing something out since Memorial Day that is worse than any forest fire we get here. And they still keep saying “it’s not us”…give me a freaking break…

  39. Zyxomma says:

    So that’s what happened to Her Heinous! She’s been breathing the air (deeply, of course, since she runs “for sanity”), drinking the water, and each time she’s done so, more brain cells & synapses have disintegrated.

  40. AKPetMom says:

    Valleyindependent:
    Thanks for chiming in! While we do love living here I am in agreement that we perhaps need to have some oversight regarding environmental oversight.

    Life here is not perfect, we are the “frontier” afterall, even if we are a suburb of Anchorage!

    Still, there are things that could be done better. We are on the slate for city water in the next few years and that would be nice because our whites would be white and we could skip the Britta pitcher for drinking water! (iron…does a number on your whites!)

    I’d also like to think that the proper agencies are paying attention to things that could pose a health risk such as companies burning or dumping waste in a manner that is not EPA sanctioned.

    I love living in the last frontier, I just hope that we can maintain it in a “last frontier” style for us that live here and for others that might want to come and visit a place that is something special.

  41. AKPetMom says:

    Hey justafarmer:

    I grew up in Front Royal Virginia and went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg VA, then worked in Arlington before moving to Wasilla, AK.

    I have relatives all over the Shenandoah Valley and have visited many places in Appalachia, in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina.

    I love the Appalachian mountains to this day and miss living in that area of the world.

    There have been many television shows and documentaries about life in Appalachia, representing it as a “downtrodden existence” and people struggling to make do, and that happens here in Wasilla. We do have some “down home types” here in Wasilla, but we also did in Virginia; hell, my maternal grandma had 11 kids and lived on a farm with an outhouse and I loved to visit her and work on her farm. She never seemed “poor” to me but just didn’t have indoor plumbing!

    Wasilla is a lot like the Shenandoah Valley; hell, I went to school in Virginia with a lot of boys that remind me of Levi Johnston!

  42. ValleyIndependent says:

    Thanks AKPetMom for setting the record straight on Wasilla. I have also enjoyed living and working here for a number of years, and can’t think of anyplace I’d rather be.

    I am also on a water well. It tests fine, and I don’t have to taste chlorine, which I consider a huge plus. The city of Wasilla is presently working on a plan to revive Lake Lucille. Wasilla Lake needs care, as does Cottonwood Creek, and, recognizing this, the city has budgeted money toward water quality improvements.

    I believe the waste incinerator is several miles outside city limits, which would mean there isn’t much the city can do about it.

    My personal experience with DEC and EPA has been that they lack the personnel and other resources to do much investigating, and that violations have to be very serious and well documented before they step in. The people they do have are good; they just need more of them.

    As for building codes, I’d like to see something in the municipal code that references the national industry standards, but good luck getting that through our current planning commission. It’s pretty darn good here, but there’s always room for improvement, no matter where you are.

  43. Bretta says:

    #34 July 17th, 2009 at 4:27 PM, Marnie Says: …so maybe somebody in the know could explain how you get household water in a part of the world where the ground is permanently frozen.”

    Permafrost exists north of the latitude of Fairbanks. Wasilla is 300 miles south – we don’t have permafrost in this area. There is lots of ground water; if the winter weather is very cold for an extended period, the frozen layer may go down 10 feet or so, but water pipes are usually buried deeper than that.

  44. Alaska Pi says:

    @60 Bretta -
    Oh…
    and I can’t call my relatives in the area up there cuz they are likely the biggest contingent in the anti-fed tea bag foolishness…

  45. Alaska Pi says:

    @60 Bretta -
    AkDEC is pretty good about enforcing air and water rules here in Southeast…
    I feel like some piece of the story hasn’t burbled to the top yet. Glad to see AKM expanding and filling in well beyond what our local news has carried.

  46. Bretta says:

    If the state’s political will was such that the ADEC could not enforce the regulations, it is very likely that the EPA stepped in.

  47. Alaska Pi says:

    @56 AKPetMom

    Thanks for not being angry with my rant!!
    —————————-
    AKM once told me when I went on a rant that SP makes people so crazy upset they get out of bounds sometimes…
    Folks were on the verge of it…
    Humanizing Wasilla with your personal story reminds us all that SP doesn’t matter in the real world. Neighbors like you do.
    I’m glad the incinerator was shut down- I hope you get a decent facility soon.

    Rant, did you rant?
    I didn’t hear any ranting…

    ((((from Juneau))))) to you neighbor

  48. Bretta says:

    #19, July 17th, 2009 at 3:15 PM, overthemoon
    *******

    Hear! Hear!!

    Regulations and code enforcement protect assets and resources as well as the environment. Not to mention the health of the human community.

  49. justafarmer says:

    (((AKPetMom)))
    I live in Appalachia and it’s gorgeous in its own special way (as much as living in one of two recognized North American rain forest areas and 10-20% unemployment can be :) )
    We don’t have moose here :( but we have wolves, elk, whitetail deer, bobcats, wild turkeys, red fox, raccoons, possums and even bears!

  50. AKPetMom says:

    I apologize to anyone that I might have offended with my “rant” regarding Wasilla and why it’s special to me.

    It is a special place to me because I left Northern Virginia 20 years ago and found my own personal paradise here in AK. I do live near Wasilla but have a few acres and a peaceful existence out of the city limits.

    Coming from NoVa I found Alaska to be way beyond my wildest dreams of natural beauty and wildness (although I grew up in a rural part of Virginia where hiking and camping were our standard activities). Alaska has given me opportunities to explore mountains and terrains and do things that I never dreamed about when living on the east coast. It also has enabled me to meet other people that share the same dream that I do and that have the same laid back lifestyle that I do. I feel that Alaska has made me “whole” and that’s why I went on my rant.

    I’ve been all over America and I still feel that Alaska is the place that I am meant to be and sorry for taking anything personally, but despite Sarah Palin causing us to be seen in a less than favorable light, prove to me there is anyplace better than Alaska, (even Wasilla)! Thanks for not being angry with my rant!!

  51. Alaska Pi says:

    I live far enough away from the valley I have only caught snippets of this story…
    BUT I have tons of relatives in that area and am wondering ,now, what the STATE DEC’s part in this was? Statutes relating to that Dept would seem to leave the bad-guy job in DEC’s court…?
    Why did it end up being the feds who had to move in and put an end to a clearly out-of-compliance facility?

    THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GHASTLY GOV.
    There are clear guidelines for dealing with this kind of problem.Whether there are clear and operable regs to make it work is the question…
    Is this another example of Alaska pretending we have SOOO few people , so far away from each other that nothing we do will bother anyone or anything else?
    Did we fail to come up with our own regs to meet or exceed the feds’ so that we left it up to the fed to intervene?
    I’m kinda tired of the anti-gubbamint folks lately including the ones I’m related to. I’m with you AKM- a tip of a tea-cup to the feds on this one…
    And a whole lot of questions about our DEC …

    previous: Chapter 3. Environmental Conservation
    next: Section 20. Powers of the Department.

    AS 46.03.010. Declaration of Policy.

    (a) It is the policy of the state to conserve, improve, and protect its natural resources and environment and control water, land, and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being.

    (b) It is the policy of the state to improve and coordinate the environmental plans, functions, powers, and programs of the state, in cooperation with the federal government, regions, local governments, other public and private organizations, and concerned individuals, and to develop and manage the basic resources of water, land, and air to the end that the state may fulfill its responsibility as trustee of the environment for the present and future generations.

    (10) adopt regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, including, by way of example and not limitation, regulations providing for

    (A) control, prevention, and abatement of air, water, or land or subsurface land pollution;

    (B) safeguard standards for petroleum and natural gas pipeline construction, operation, modification, or alteration;

    (C) protection of public water supplies by establishing minimum drinking water standards, and standards for the construction, improvement, and maintenance of public water supply systems;

    (D) collection and disposal of sewage and industrial waste;

    (E) collection and disposal of garbage, refuse, and other discarded solid materials from industrial, commercial, agricultural, and community activities or operations;

    (F) control of pesticides;

    (G) other purposes as may be required for the implementation of the policy declared in AS 46.03.010 ;

    (H) handling, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes;

    (11) inspect the premises of sellers and suppliers of paint, vessels, and marine and boating supplies, and take other actions necessary to enforce AS 46.03.715 ;

    (12) notwithstanding any other provision of law, take all actions necessary to receive authorization from the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to administer and enforce a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program in accordance with 33 U.S.C. 1342 (sec. 402, Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. 1345 (sec. 405, Clean Water Act), 40 C.F.R. Part 123, and 40 C.F.R. Part 403, as amended.

    All content © 2008 by Touch N’ Go/Bright Solutions, Inc.

  52. Elaine says:

    How many children born with Down syndrome and other birth defects in this area? How many cases of leukemia and other kinds of cancer?

  53. justafarmer says:

    AKPetMom,
    I’m sorry that my posts on this subject were offensive.
    I was NOT passing judgment on Wasilla, I was just passing on my own personal first-hand life experiences.
    I spent some of my grade school years in Buffalo, not too far away from Love Canal and remember very well what was happening (and people were voicing serious concerns in the 50s & 60s, long before the “dream community” was evacuated).
    One of my cousins lived near Times Beach, Missouri, so I got a lot of first hand commentary about that.
    One of my sisters lived in the little town in Ohio where the Fernald plant as located.
    I have lived with well water most of my life. When I lived in Illinois, there was a Waste Management landfill about five miles away that contaminated the water table, which included all of the rural wells and the municipal wells. The state EPA people came to town and said we shouldn’t worry because (and this is a direct quote that has been burned into my brain): “We have the technology to pump out the water table, clean it up and put it back.”
    What a load of crap that was! The water table there was deep. My well was 200+feet and the municipal wells were even deeper. The municipal well tests were contaminated by the landfill; they were dug to the level of the Great Lakes artesian basin flow that runs all through the southern states, including Kentucky where I now live.
    I have my well tested by the health department every year, and I “shock” it on a quarterly schedule with bleach to take care of e-coli concerns. We also have a purifier on the kitchen tap to remove the iron & lime and other particulates.

  54. crystalwolf aka caligrl says:

    If you read RFK jrs. book Crimes against nature…you will see how this came about. Many of these places all over the country were operating under the radar since 1972 and were “grandfathered” in by Bush and Co. The EPA under him was a joke.
    That this place got closed down shows PO is changing things. It would be interesting to see just how many cancers/birth defects in the Wasilla area b/c of this incinerator.
    Check this book out it is still relevant (as witnessed by the closing of this place)
    Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy by Jr., Robert F. Kennedy
    .01+shipping@amazon great read!

  55. AKPetMom says:

    I live in Wasilla and have a well. I have my water tested each year as we have iron in our water and want to make certain it is not getting worse, as it gunks up our water heater.

    I do take slight offense at the concern that folks have and the general judgmental attitude towards Wasilla expressed by those that number one, have never visited here, and number two, do not live here.

    If I was taking the same stance as some of the posters regarding air and water quality in Wasilla and detriment to life and health, I’d also have to admit that I am very concerned for the health and welfare of those that are traveling to Pittsburgh to the Mudstock event there. I would have to advise all to probably NOT drink the water and definitely do not go swimming in the rivers there. Also most likely not advisable to breath the air.

    I left the East Coast of America 20 years ago and don’t miss the pollution; the factory pollution, the overabundance of automobile pollution. I still maintain that we have a much cleaner environment her in AK, yet it is being sullied all the time by the influx of population.

    However, I doubt that one tiny medical waste incinerator way out of the city limits of Wasilla can cause a “love canal” type scenario.

    Lake Lucille (where SP lives) is not dead because of mining waste. The run off from the highway and the septic leach from the people that live along the lake have lowered the oxygen content rendering it a “dead lake”. Please take note that the highway that was built thru Wasilla also cut off the intake of water from Lake Lucille, however, Wasilla Lake has remained healthy but Lake Lucille has died.

    Not that any of this makes altering environment more acceptable, but I just want to remind everyone that Wasilla is a wonderful place to live if you just ignore the suburban sprawl and concentrate on the mountains and the fact that there aren’t so many people around to compete with when you would like to recreate.

    Sorry, but I feel the need to take up for my little town; Sarah Palin has made everyone look at this place like it’s “hell on earth”, but I’ve been happy here for many years, even despite all the Christians and Red Folks.

  56. Alaskan Sisu says:

    Makes you wonder if the whole area is contaminated. I never realized it was this bad, Good griefness! Time to start connecting the dots for the people that live in that area. I imagine there are lots of Alaskans in that area that are impacted greatly by this story and I’m glad it’s getting out there.

  57. Sourdough Mullet says:

    The State of AK DEC was/is responsible, through cooperative agreements, for enforcing EPA’s Federal air quality regulations (as well as drinking water and wastewater regs, pesticides, and several others). They’ve known that what this facility was doing was illegal for YEARS, and have chosen not to address it. Sadly, that’s par for the course for this agency, where the majority of the managers have either insufficient or NO science or technical training. Many of them come directly from the industry they are charged w/ regulating. Any qualified staff that were working below them have all jumped from that sinking ship. Those that are left are puppets of the state administration, which calls all the shots with respect to permits and enforcement. The entire Department needs a complete external audit, and the Feds need to take back control of their environmental oversight through the EPA.

  58. Gasman says:

    Hey, Saint Sarah of Wasilla is just showing you the depths of her commitment to liberty and fighting against that status quo big government. So what if we have a few two headed babies? Who cares if there are a few more cases of cancer? You say that you’re concerned about the health of our children? What are you, some kind of socialist pansy? Our kids from the MatSu Valley that survive childhood will be toughened up by the more rigorous stimulus to their immune systems. Lettin’ the feds in is just the first step towards communism. That, and palin’ around with terrorists.

  59. HistoryGoddess says:

    Thank you, AKM, for the well-written post. I can’t add to what others have said, but I feel both sad and very, very angry. Terpsichore (4:19) said one of the best lines was the Money Quote:

    “A suggestion to those in Alaska who have problems with “the feds” and support minimal government and deregulation – If that’s going to work, it actually requires paying attention. Lack of oversight and ‘interference’ on the federal level will only work if you decide to take over that job.”

    You are truly a journalist. WC would be proud.

  60. Lainey says:

    @sjk from the belly of the plane
    who needs govt? what I dont get is the folks who SCREAM for less and less always gov’t want to RUN FOR OFFICE!!!!!!! GET LOST!!!!
    ——————–
    here here……less money for programs, more money in their greedy, snarly little pockets!!!

  61. overthemoon says:

    And, for give me for running on…but it seems that the Feds have had to intervene at least twice recently in Alaska in order to preserve public safety and well being. Is this what Sarah Palin means when she says ‘small government and state sovereignty is good for Alaska’? Guess if it brings the big boys in to fix everything, maybe it is good.

  62. seattlefan says:

    Between this awful revelation and the Health Care Priorities scandal, it seems there was no oversight, authority, follow-through…..ANYTHING during the past few years. If this issue was known since 2001, why didn’t Palin pounce on it and get it fixed when she was elected? I guess the answer to that is she just didn’t care, or worse, she didn’t know!

    What dreadful thing will come out next?

  63. scout says:

    Thank you, AKM. I’m horrified by this negligence. Where the he!! was DEC for 8 years?? The MadZoo, again, lives up to its moniker.

    April 11, 2007 source: ADN: “Sewage Falls from the Sky “literally”

    “WASILLA — Chunks of foamy bubbles, some reportedly as large as a car and others the size of a bathtub, spewed from the city sewer lagoon Wednesday and fell from the sky east of town…..

    We thought the sky was falling,” Joyner said, laughing. “It was ridiculous. People were pulling off to the side of the road and running out, trying to catch them.” Bill Harvey, Wasilla deputy public works director, said an odd mix of events caused the bubble phenomenon.”

    http//www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?=109708

  64. overthemoon says:

    bucfan wrote:

    “Overthemoon, I always looked at most government regulations not as big brother trying to take away your freedoms, but as trying to protect the majority from being taken advantage of some greedy, untrustworthy, you know whats.”

    Exactly. If all business was more interested in community than profits and played the role of seeing to the common good, we could live with that mythical ‘small government’. As human nature and shareholders drive most business decisions, we can not. I would, if given the chance, ask all of the ‘small government’ proponents to define exactly what that means, and for every ‘freedom’ gained what price will we pay as a community and a country.

  65. justafarmer says:

    also, ground water can be affected. And what about Lake Lucille being “dead”?
    I just remember the Love Canal debacle in Niagara Falls, Times Beach in Missouri, and the Fernald toxic (literally glow at night) problems in Ohio.

  66. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    “It will be interesting to see what kind of cancers turn up in the Wasilla area.”

    Ummm the Palin adults?

  67. sjk from the belly of the plane says:

    who needs govt? what I dont get is the folks who SCREAM for less and less always gov’t want to RUN FOR OFFICE!!!!!!! GET LOST!!!!

  68. SmallSteps says:

    autopoeisis Says:

    OMG. I will do some serious research on this. We llived in Eagle River just a few miles from Wasilla when I was pregnant with, and gave birth to my daughter who was born with DS. if it was found to be a causable agent that could be responsible for my daughter’s DS, well, I will just be BEYOND spitting mad!!!

    Thank God the Feds have finally intervened!!!!!

  69. Lainey says:

    stay healthy, AK…..you need all the prayers you can get!

  70. justafarmer says:

    the scary part is that even though the incinerator has been shut down, the heavy metals, dioxin and other toxic stuff is still there…in the ground, in people’s houses, in their bodies.

  71. Celia Harrison says:

    It will be interesting to see what kind of cancers turn up in the Wasilla area. We have the feds to thank for this and intervening with the incompetent department of health and social services. I have been screaming about this for years. No one was listening. This state is a part of the United States. The constitution is the backbone of our country. A state cannot just decide to ignore the regulations of the federal government. It is so sad that these kinds of things go on because those in charge here have their own agenda and just do not care about anyone else. How awful to be old and ignored when you need help and you end up dead.

  72. Marnie says:

    Interesting about Palin’s backyard lake being dead. Do Wasillians use well water?
    I’m probably showing my ignorance here so maybe somebody in the know could explain how you get household water in a part of the world where the ground is permanently frozen.

  73. Terpsichore says:

    AKM, this is IMO the Money Quote: “A suggestion to those in Alaska who have problems with “the feds” and support minimal government and deregulation – If that’s going to work, it actually requires paying attention. Lack of oversight and ‘interference’ on the federal level will only work if you decide to take over that job.”

    Exactly. Perhaps if the city government of Wasilla had a) recognized the problem; b) creatively went to work to help write legislation that did apply to everyone and was not, as Sarah Palin has decried ‘one-size-fits-all; c) applied for appropriate state or federal grants or even asked for ‘pork’ to help these business owners ‘clean up their act’, there might have been a lot less pollution, and two people not in loss of their livelihood today.

    I feel bad for them, but they were polluters. No municipality, state or any government does its citizens a favor when they enable this kind of behavior by not having and enforcing reasonable laws.

    And, just to be snarky, that goes for building and energy codes too!!!

  74. tm68 says:

    WTF? I live in Wasilla- moved to AK 5 years ago. I had no idea this was going on. Has this been in the news?
    Thank you AKM for posting this. And I raise MY cup of tea to “the feds” as well.

  75. Marnie says:

    You can also add cyanide in various forms to the list. I don’t know if carbon tetrachloride is used in hospital lab work any more, I hope not, but it probably is in medical research labs. It is a highly toxic fluid that evaporates quickly and is very toxic as a gas.

    Incidentally, what do they do with the residue?

  76. BigSlick says:

    The wind patterns in that area blow whatever emissions are released straight back into Wasilla. I wonder what the rate of cancer, immune system, and nervous system disorders is for that area?

  77. overthemoon says:

    ….Unless it’s fundamentalist Xtian belief in the Old Testament and Revelations…

    Thank the multiple pagan gods that I don’t have to deal with those regs on a daily basis!!

    Yes. Earthquakes, but actually, I’d guess that the freeze/thaw cycles in the norther climes can wreak a subtler but dangerous and costly havoc, as well. also!

  78. Ripley in CT says:

    Shannyn just read the bulk of this post on the radio.

    Nicely done Shannyn. Way to get it out there.

  79. marilyn says:

    In my feeble mind (tongue in cheek, maybe), this explains a lot about SP. You can’t make ‘conscious’ decisions or even decisions that make sense when your brain is wigged out on pollution sitting in your own backyard. The things she has done make no sense to any ‘thinking’ person, hence we are scratching our heads. Each revelation just gets more and more overwhelming. I am burning out and right now there is nothing SP could do that would surprise me……I don’t think……yikes, well I guess there are a couple of things…..an apology to Alaska? An apology to the residents of Wasilla? An apology to her family for throwing them under the bus? The list of apologies she could make are endless so I guess nothing she does do will surprise me.

  80. AKMFan says:

    I was afraid this incident was going to be lost in the wake of Her Heinous quitting.

    I’m glad you were still able to get the information out there :)

  81. KaJo says:

    Hedgewytch Says: Most of these types who rail against the Government telling them what to do are also the ones who pretty much continue to pollute indescriminently in all aspects of their lives (whether its chain smoking, letting oil leak out of machinery and into waterways, or burning toxic materials) because if you can’t see it or feel it, then it isn’t real.

    ….Unless it’s fundamentalist Xtian belief in the Old Testament and Revelations…

  82. bucfan says:

    Overthemoon, I always looked at most government regulations not as big brother trying to take away your freedoms, but as trying to protect the majority from being taken advantage of some greedy, untrustworthy, you know whats. How many people in the Wasilla area will have respiratory problems somewhere down the line, whether COPD, lung cancer, etc. And I would add one more natural disaster that insurance companies would not cover a home built as you mentioned above. Earthquakes. We seem to have a few of them up here. What insurance company in their right mind would offer that type of insurance on a home which they have no idea to what regs it was built? Are there some dumb regulations out there? Yes. But, when exposed to the light, they are quickly done away with.

  83. Me says:

    My mom lived at Big Lake and in Wasilla for years. She became very ill from sewage contamination in well water and from other unspecified contaminants. I agree wholeheartedly.

  84. the problem child says:

    Between contractors and earthquakes, AK really needs building codes, I agree.

  85. Lee says:

    That explains a lot about doesn’t it?

    I remember reading an article about the lake in the Palins backyard. The article said that the lake was dead due to the polution from from mining. If you google Alaska and look at hazardous waste dumps, you will be amazed.

  86. the problem child says:

    Well, GOOD, InJuneau!

  87. overthemoon says:

    This story fits with another regulatory nightmare Palin created:

    Palin fought the energy retrofit portion of the stimulous package based largely on her perception that the money came with stipulations for codes that would be unnecessary and cumbersome to residents. I am an architect, and I deal with building codes daily. I was absolutely shocked when I learned that codes which she found to be excessive is the IBC-(International Building Code). This is the standard for construction throughout the country (and elsewhere, as the name implies.) that provides the baseline requirements for building construction and public safety.

    I was further alarmed when I learned that, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin removed code requirements, building permits and inspections for construction projects. (there is the speculation that she did so at the behest of the contractor for the ice rink facility, who may or may not have provided her materials and labor for her new house). Having been in and around the construction industry for over 20 years, I know that if there is a shortcut to be taken, a contractor or owner will take it to save time and money. Without any code regulations or oversight, the quality of construction becomes a personal judgment with no basis for assurance to the current or future owners that their home or commercial building is sound. Sure, some builders will take care and meet or exceed standard codes, but only one who doesn’t opens the way for disaster. In an environment like AK, this is even more shocking given the potential for excessive snow loading on roofs and perpetual forest fires. In the event a a building fails, what standard can be applied for insurance or litigation? I’m surprised insurance companies will cover buildings not reviewed for code compliance.

    It is a disservice to the entire community to allow buildings to be constructed without concern for codes and pesky things like building permits. I understand the wiley nature of alaskans who don’t want no guvment interference, but a community needs to be protected from the cheapskates who are unfortunately a part of the building trades.

    Maybe there is more to this than I can ascertain through the snippets of news on this issue, but I would be very concerned if I was looking at buying a building in Wasilla.

  88. InJuneau says:

    Speaking of things toxic and needing the Feds to protect us from ourselves… (I’m cross posting this from the Open Thread so more people see it):

    An interesting development on the Kensington waste disposal issue: http://www.adn.com/news/environment/story/867752.html

    EPA wants reconsideration of gold mine waste plan

    The Associated Press

    Published: July 17th, 2009 09:53 AM
    Last Modified: July 17th, 2009 12:46 PM

    JUNEAU — The Environmental Protection Agency wants the Army Corps of Engineers to take another look at how to dispose of tailings at Coeur Alaska Inc.’s Kensington Gold mine north of Juneau.

  89. NMJ says:

    But I do know that children in the Valley won’t be breathing heavy metals and dioxins from illegal incinerators any more when they go out to play. –AKM

    Heavy metals and dioxins could be the explanation. Maybe the new generation will grow up without so much brain damage. *Snark!*

  90. InJuneau says:

    Erin–I believe it prob. does. Too bad I have some friends living up there (don’t ask…).

  91. autopoeisis says:

    Thanks for posting this, AKM. How horrible, a true cautionary tale. I do hope it gets picked up nationwide in MSM beyond HuffPo.

    And yes, @Bretta, some toxins have been blamed for increased incidence of Down Syndrome:

    http://www.celsias.com/article/studies-show-pollution-affects-unborn-babies/

    “The prominent pediatrician, Dr. Gerald H. Holman, a former associate dean of the Texas Tech Medical School in Amarillo, released a report in 1990 that supported the lawyer’s findings. The report said that “‘in all medical probability” the high number of Down Syndrome births is “‘is related to the environmental pollutants from the Celanese site.”

    The national rate of Down Syndrome births, according to the New York Times article, is one in 1,550 for very young women, and one in 1,000 for women in their late 20′s and early 30′s. The number of Down Syndrome births in Pampa, population 20,000, in the 1980s was 347 to 484 a year.”

  92. Hedgewytch says:

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to thank the Feds for trying to make the world safer for us all. Most of these types who rail against the Government telling them what to do are also the ones who pretty much continue to pollute indescriminently in all aspects of their lives (whether its chain smoking, letting oil leak out of machinery and into waterways, or burning toxic materials) because if you can’t see it or feel it, then it isn’t real. It’s not until these people or someone they love is critcally ill will they even consider how their actions are effecting life on Earth – and maybe not even then – it will be God’s will or someone else’s fault.

  93. the problem child says:

    I think you nailed that, bucfan.

  94. Erin says:

    Well now, that explains a lot about Wasilla, doesn’t it?

  95. HudsonElizabeth says:

    Dioxins are BAD. And, they don’t go away quickly, so even if they are no longer being burned and put into the air there, they are still there — in the ground, water, food chain, etc.

    Here is something I found by googling and it tells much about the harm they do.

    http://www.ideaconnection.com/solutions/569-Dioxin-poisoning.html

    And, heavy metal toxicity is also pretty bad. You can read up on it here:

    http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/toxics-and-health/heavy-metals/

    A few years ago there was a movement to build the country’s largest cement plant about a mile from my house. Many in the community wanted it thinking it would bring jobs. But, it wouldn’t and many of us learned the impact it could have on our environment and health. Luckily the NY Dept. of State turned it down so for the time being we are breathing better air than we would have. I hope the Feds hammer them and look into the local government’s involvement and hammer them too if they had a role it that place not getting into compliance.

  96. bucfan says:

    I grew up in what used to be called the Steel Valley back in the midwest. I am almost fifty years old and spent my first twenty one years there. I remember going outside in July, walking into a sauna of humidity and looking up into a brown sky. I never saw stars unless I was out in the country. I don’t think I want to know what my lungs look like even though I have never smoked a day in my life. I fear for what those children in Wasilla may experience as they get older. Yes, it has now been shut down but how much crap has been pumped into the air in the past few years. And how much crap has settled out of the air into the ground, and into the ground water. And while I am happy that the feds finally came through and shut this business down, where were the feds from 2001 until now? Why did it take so long to take action? Oh, wait. That was a couple of stupid questions. Oversight was a bad word for those eight years.

  97. Karin in CT says:

    should read ‘safe to assume’

  98. Karin in CT says:

    Wow. Thanks for this post AKM. Am I safely assuming that AK doesn’t have any state regulations?

  99. michigander says:

    AKM thank you for this and I am so glad Huffington post will be carrying this.

    I enjoy everything you do here on Mudflats but this story, along with the medicare/caid story and so many others need to be sent out to the nation. It is so important and I believe you are the one to do it. Thank you, from me and my family (o:

  100. Rob in Ca says:

    Looks to me like that is over $200 million dollars in fines, if it is really 7,336 x 30,000! They got quite a discount!

  101. Silvermoon says:

    Why wouldn’t the former Mayor of Wasilla; and/or the present Governor have investigated this facility—and initiated state action?

  102. akmuckraker says:

    Shannyn Moore is on KFQD taking over Dan Fagan’s show today. She’ll be talking about this article. I’ll have something up on Huffington Post about “the feds” later today.

  103. Cassie Jeep Pike Palin says:

    Mercury was the cause of the Mad Hatter’s insanity….hmm….SP may have breathed a little too much of it.

  104. Bretta says:

    Wonder if the toxic constituents can be a cause of chromosome damage or Trisomy 21?

  105. rvdee says:

    Not tea, please. Hoist coffee (or better yet, a chicory blend) to truly appreciate our emancipated-from-England government.

  106. InJuneau says:

    I care about the air and it being healthy, so I am SO glad I don’t live there in the MadZoo, for this reason among many others!

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