Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society - Critical Issues

Protecting the Nation's First State Dedicated Nature Preserve
Protecting the Nation's First State Dedicated Nature Preserve
Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society - Protecting the Nation's First State Dedicated Nature Preserve
Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society - Protecting the Nation's First State Dedicated Nature Preserve

Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society

Accountability for Enforcement

2003 Camplin Report Results in Formation of Illinois Attorney General’s Asbestos Task Force

In 2003, Illinois Dunesland released the Camplin Report, written by Dunesland’s health and safety asbestos consultant Jeffery Camplin; it was an analysis of the state’s seriously flawed 1998 Hansen Report about asbestos on the lakefront at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, IL. Under political pressure, Illinois Attorney General (IAG) Lisa Madigan created an Asbestos Task Force to investigate the serious charges of health and safety risks raised in Dunesland’s Camplin Report.

The IAG foisted the ultimate responsibility of the Asbestos Task Force onto the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) School of Public Health and apparently allowed UIC to operate at its own discretion with a small technical committee composed of very politically compromised public officials. Most of those officials lacked technical expertise; some had even been responsible for not enforcing regulations on the asbestos issues they were reviewing; they also created some of the contamination!

The other members of the Asbestos Task Force who were not on the small committee were basically out of the loop. Throughout the entire process of closed IAG Asbestos Task Force meetings, UIC also met in secrecy, contrary to the detailed policy (explained on our next page) stated on their website, thereby excluding the public from any input and oversight. Those actions are also contrary to the state’s Sunshine Laws for public bodies that the Attorney General is charged to enforce throughout the state. The mantra seems to be, ”Do as I say, don’t do as I do.” The Attorney General said that her task force was not a public body, so the Sunshine Laws could be spurned. How convenient.

Many of the Task Force members were kept “out of the loop” by the IAG during the process. Dunesland raised questions about which government agencies/members actually approved the draft report before it was released. When Dunesland inquired at the IAG’s office in late January 2006 about the peer review, Beth Wallace, assistant Illinois Attorney General, said that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry/Centers for Disease Control (ATSDR/CDC, Chicago office) had reviewed it. This report was supposed to go through a peer review process; ATSDR/CDC severely criticized the science in the draft report and has refused to do an authentic peer review and public comment period as promised, apparently because of the bad science in the draft. Dunesland obtained a copy of the “review” which is only a short letter from the Chicago office of ATSDR and not a scientific peer review.

The ATSDR letter raised many questions about the quality and the validity of the IAG’s interim Task Force draft report. The report’s conclusions are not supported by its data. However, that didn’t stop them from releasing their final report in June 2006, leaving many of the questions and concerns unresolved. Science and politics don’t mix very well in Illinois where it seems to be politics as usual.

The IAG has allowed millions of people to continue to visit Illinois beaches and be unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibers since Dunesland released the 2003 Camplin Report. The IAG report does confirm that our beaches contain tremolite and other amphiboles which are very deadly forms of asbestos, despite the way the Task Force attempted to bury the data in the report.  Amphiboles and other asbestos fibers were found at Illinois Beach State Park, the Waukegan Harbor Approach Channel, Highland Park beach, and Chicago’s Oak Street Beach; most beaches have not been tested.

The lake’s currents have carried the asbestos fibers southward from the apparent major source (Johns-Manville Superfund site, a former asbestos product manufacturing site in Waukegan) to the beaches. The dredged, asbestos-contaminated sand from offshore of the Commonwealth Edison/Midwest Generation plant (adjacent to Manville) has also been dumped at Illinois Beach State Park, causing additional contamination that Dunesland has protested for years. Additionally, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers annually dredges Waukegan Harbor’s approach channel which contains amosite (an amphibole asbestos) and other contamination. The harbor’s dredgings have been periodically dumped on Illinois Beach State Park’s shoreline where the lake’s currents carry them south.

Environmental Sellout by IAG, IEPA, State’s Attorney and the Court Big Business Contamination Has Cost Illinois Taxpayers Millions, Putting Public Health at Risk

IAG Madigan and former IEPA Director Renee Cipriano urged that former asbestos products manufacturer Johns Manville be let off the hook with just a $145,000 fine in a controversial pollution violations (press release settlement violations 9 20 04.pdf at bottom of this page) suit. “Fine print” details of the state charges show the penalty could easily have ranged up to $8,000,000. In a court filing on September 16, 2004, lawyers for Attorney General Lisa Madigan contended that the long-awaited settlement proposal, which is highly favorable to Manville, was fair to the state. In return for the low fine, Manville agreed to many new details for pursuing the 15-year long cleanup of its highly contaminated, 150-acre Asbestos Superfund site in Waukegan that spawned the state charges.

Paul Kakuris, President of Illinois Dunesland, who monitored this litigation for over two years, called the State/Manville suggested agreement “…a fraud on the people of Illinois, a ‘Sweetheart Settlement,’ and a mere slap-on-the-wrist. Virtually all the cleanup steps that Manville has promised to perform, in return for this low fine, Manville is actually already committed to perform under terms of the latest proposed federal Superfund cleanup requirements that Manville ratified in a revised federal court consent decree earlier in 2004. So the state is giving up ‘something’---the potential for a very substantial fine---for ‘nothing,’ or virtually nothing. This is a rape of the already financially hard-pressed Illinois taxpayer,” Kakuris contended.

“Governor Rod Blagojevich is cutting staff and state services because of Illinois’s cash crunch. Meanwhile, the IAG’s so-called ‘settlement’ with Johns Manville actually gives the state almost nothing, and instead lets one of the richest men in America---Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire-Hathaway Company now owns Johns Manville---save millions of dollars. In essence, they are attempting to snooker the Court and the beleaguered taxpayers.”

Loop attorney Donald L. F. Metzger represented Dunesland’s battle to right this environmental injustice in the courts. In late March 2005, Mr. Metzger filed a Notice of Appeal in the Illinois Appellate Court to appeal Dunesland’s “friend of the court” status in the original case. The Illinois Attorney General was representing her state client, the IEPA (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency), in a series of violations which were allegedly committed by Manville. Some of these violations were brought to the attention of the state by Dunesland. We had charged that the Illinois Attorney General, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller, and IEPA had a “sweetheart” deal with Manville and were covering up other violations that had not been enforced.

Judge David M. Hall previously ruled that Dunesland could not be a party to the suit, but would be allowed a “friend of the court” status which significantly limited Dunesland’s ability to participate in any effective way, legally. Dunesland was a “stepchild,” in the case as a consultant to the judge. For the sake of appearances, the Court threw Dunesland a bone, but then ignored the overwhelming evidence in our exhibits and documentation of the massive pollution by Manville and inappropriate actions by many government agencies. IAG Lisa Madigan’s office continually fought against Dunesland’s participation in this case. Judge Hall indicated that Dunesland had a “special interest” in the court action because of our status as a stakeholder in Illinois Beach State Park. Presumably, he conferred that status because we are a protector, co-founder, and stewards of the park and the surrounding area.

Even though Hall indicated that Dunesland had a special and unique interest, he denied Dunesland the right to be a party to the case regarding the settlement. Case law indicates that a party with a special or unique interest can be a full party to a case and intervene; but he denied that right to us. Judge Hall knew that as a “friend of the court,” we would not be able to subpoena or depose public officials in order to sort out the truth of the “sweetheart deal” that had been proposed. At the beginning of the case, Judge Hall had indicated that he had concerns about the pollution leaving the Manville Superfund site and contaminating the Nature Preserve, the groundwater, and Lake Michigan. Additionally, he told the parties that he lives approximately one mile from the Superfund site and certainly had a personal interest.

Initially, Judge Hall had proposed a series of questions that he wanted Johns-Manville, the IAG, and the Lake County State’s Attorney to answer. Months later, near the end of the court hearings, Dunesland brought to the attention of Judge Hall that many of his questions were not answered or not adequately answered with regard to the contamination of the environment. He ignored our concerns and even left many of his own questions unanswered. He reached a decision in the case without all of the information he had previously required.

Prior to the last hearing before Judge Hall’s final ruling, he ordered that Dunesland’s exhibits, totaling over 600 pages, should be removed from the court records and stricken immediately. These exhibit documents showed the divisiveness and the cover-ups by Manville, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), IAG, and the Lake County State’s Attorney.

It’s a shame Judge Hall removed those court files; they are no longer available to the public and other government agencies for scrutiny so that they can see the proof for themselves. Those exhibits are still available through Dunesland. Additionally, Judge Hall ignored the fact that during the process of those many filings, it was brought to the Court’s attention by Dunesland’s attorney, Donald L. F. Metzger, that the IAG’s office had misrepresented certain issues in order to color their presentations to the Court.

After months of filing pleadings and arguments, Judge Hall ruled that the Consent Decree, as proposed by the Attorney General and Manville, et al, was to be approved with essentially no changes. This settlement allowed them to sign off on one of the first Superfund sites in the country and let Manville off with a fine of approximately $145,000 instead of $8,000.000 which we calculate could be the true fine if the laws and their fines had been properly enforced by government regulators. The fine they actually received is a drop in the bucket on what has been expended by various state agencies and Dunesland in time and money! As signed, the state is probably millions of dollars in the hole for money already spent on this case in salaries and support costs.

Governor Blagojevich should be monitoring what his agency directors are doing to generate revenue for the state, not allowing them to give away the store! The Governor should monitor more closely the activity of the Illinois Attorney General’s office when it settles cases with the state agencies. For a state with so many fiscal concerns and budget cutbacks, an extremely poor job has been done of collecting what is owed by Big Business.

IEPA’s former Director Renee Cipriano who reached that settlement agreement with IAG Lisa Madigan, now works for the law firm that represents Midwest Generation whose dredgings also contaminate the shoreline. Cipriano has achieved some notoriety in under-enforcing violations and fines; this is another example of the IEPA’s and IAG’s poor commitment to the environment, despite what their websites might tout. It appears to be a very interesting revolving door between administrative environmental regulator/lawyers and a law firm representing deep pocket polluters. There seems to be no shame in selling out the taxpayers and the environment!

It is an insult to the taxpayers of Illinois, a state in financial crisis, to be saddled with the millions, perhaps billions, of dollars it will cost to mitigate the pollution in the Nature Preserve (adjacent to the Superfund site), Lake Michigan, the groundwater, and the 6½ miles of the park’s beaches that have been polluted with chemicals; microscopic, inhalable asbestos, and friable asbestos chunks.

In addition, what will properly remediating the Superfund site cost? The bottom of those sludge-filled lagoons in the Superfund site covers many acres and is not lined (a design that is no longer legal). The Manville lagoons leak into the groundwater and are located approximately 400 feet from Lake Michigan. A young child could easily draw the conclusion that the taxpayers of Illinois will need to come up with millions, probably billions, of dollars to clean it up or it will just stay the way it is, wreaking havoc on the environment and the health and safety of the public. That is without mentioning the widespread contamination that has spread southward along the North Shore and Chicago beaches. Who could begin to calculate those costs?

Judge Hall indicated that he didn’t “think” he had jurisdiction over many of the environmental issues that Dunesland brought up. The environmental questions about the pollution of the groundwater and Lake Michigan raised by Dunesland were a concern to him, but he “thought” they were not in his jurisdiction. Another concern that Dunesland expressed to Judge Hall was that the IAG, Lake County State’s Attorney, IEPA, and Manville refused to create a SEP (Supplemental Environmental Program) which would allow the fines collected to go for programs within the park’s State Dedicated Nature Preserve and Federal Critical Habitat, such as testing for pollution, mitigation, and other scientific research relating to Manville’s contamination of it.

Dunesland feels Judge Hall let the environment down, as well as his own community, because among other things in the court process, Dunesland brought to his attention that the rule used by the USEPA to deem microscopic asbestos particles “safe” (less than 1 % found in soils) was no longer valid. Dunesland supplied Judge Hall with a document from the USEPA which showed that the rule had changed and that 1% was no longer a safe level. In this area, federal and state officials, as well as John-Manville, had been using the 1% Rule which has now been ruled invalid and unsafe (outside of Judge Hall’s courtroom because he ignored the document). Judge Hall also ignored the ongoing violations of the Superfund site leaking into the environment and the Nature Preserve, contaminating them with asbestos and other chemicals. Additionally, he allowed the agreement to reduce the fines of subsequent violations that Manville might incur.

The Manville Superfund site, as well as the other contaminated areas found near its boundaries, is far from cleaned up. Otherwise, asbestos contamination and chemical pollution wouldn't be fouling our Nature Preserve and air tests wouldn't be picking up elevated asbestos readings on the beaches. Scientific studies show a higher percentage of asbestos-related death clusters in this area than in the rest of the region. Lake and Cook counties are toward the top of the charts for
asbestos-related deaths in the United States.

Unfortunately, due to this Consent Decree, the taxpayers will be assuming the yet-unknown liability for the cleanup because the regulatory agencies have refused to do proper testing. Since Manville is now owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., the liability needs to stay with them, not the beleaguered taxpayers whose duty seems to be to just keep on paying for government officials’ cover-ups, errors, incompetence, and “sweetheart” deals for polluters.

Big Business needs to accept responsibility for a history of unsavory practices; examples abound in the Waukegan/Zion/North Chicago area. Businesses shouldn’t be able to continue to make fat profits, foul the environment, and leave the taxpayer holding the bag financially, while also suffering catastrophic, often fatal, health problems due to the pollution damages Big Business has caused. When will our government officials do their job in protecting the public rather than protecting, aiding, and abetting the companies which have desecrated our state, yet contribute so much to political campaign coffers?

Asbestos Contamination Plagues Camp Logan at North Unit of Illinois Beach State Park
In 2006 and 2007, state officials conducted controlled burns at Camp Logan, having full knowledge that it contained friable asbestos demolition debris. It is illegal to burn asbestos because the fire releases it into the air and it becomes friable. This can create severe health challenges, as witnessed by all of the health problems that have developed in the 911 first responders at the World Trade Center. The Camp Logan area is open to the public which is against environmental regulations because there is dangerous RACM (regulated asbestos-containing material) present.

Dunesland filed a formal complaint on this matter on May 15, 2007 with the USEPA. It is exactly a year after a complaint about last year’s burn was filed on May 15, 2006 with the IEPA and Lake County Board of Health. Excerpt from the 2006 complaint:

Subject
1. State Attempts to Cover up New Asbestos Discoveries at Illinois Beach State Park
2. State’s Deceptive New Asbestos Cover-up Riddled with Violations of Statutes and Regulations
3. State’s Asbestos Consultant PSI has Begun Picking up and Removing Friable Asbestos Pieces,
    Apparently Attempting to Circumvent Public Scrutiny and Disclosure While Apparently Violating
    State Statutes and Regulations
4. State’s Attempt to Keep Asbestos Secret Backfires, Causes Public Health Risk, and Further
    Environmental Contamination
Scope:
• Several hundred square feet of friable/regulated transite sheeting is scattered across more than 100
   acres of public property.
• The asbestos demolition debris is located at the Lake Michigan shoreline just south of Camp Logan
  and north of the Zion nuclear power plant in the north unit of Illinois Beach State Park. The
  damaged and weathered asbestos transite sheeting and piping is scattered across an old residential
  neighborhood that the State of Illinois has owned since the early 1970’s when the demolition
  apparently occurred.
• It appears the old homes were demolished; some of the debris was buried onsite and some was left
  on the surface, which left hundreds of asbestos pieces scattered throughout the acreage, exposed to
  the environment, and badly weathered and abraded. Some of the asbestos-containing demolition
  debris was also buried in nearby swales, expanding the remediation site further to approximately
  one square mile or more.
• Some of the razed buildings may be from a military installation on the site.
• Over the years, the materials have surfaced and contaminated a several acre area with visible and
  microscopic asbestos.

A field burn earlier this year in the area consumed grasses and brush that had previously concealed the extent of the friable asbestos debris. There are several hundred square feet of asbestos debris ranging in size from crumbs to as large as several square feet. Several hundred pieces of this asbestos debris is scattered on the surface of the acreage. There are other pieces emerging from the soil, heaved up during the freeze and thaw cycles, indicating an unknown amount of similar pieces of debris buried at the site. The area is state property open to the public from sunrise to sunset each day. The asbestos debris-laden area is currently open to the public. The demolition debris located in and above ground has created airborne hazards, land pollution, and shoreline/water pollution and safety concerns.

Complaint:
The presence of friable and regulated asbestos-containing materials in the Camp Logan area of Illinois Beach State Park has created and continues to create an environmental, safety, and public health emergency.

The asbestos debris appears to have originated from residential building materials and a military installation. These residential structures were owned by the state of Illinois prior to being demolished sometime in the early 1970’s. Demolition of these structures occurred under ownership of the state of Illinois. This asbestos-regulated, friable demolition waste debris poses a threat to human health and the environment for the following reasons:

1.   Asbestos cement building materials have become
     damaged and friable due to previous demolition
     activities approximately 30 years ago. These
     materials have been a danger for all these years and
     are even more dangerous now due to weathering.
2.  The demolition debris originated from publicly
     owned structures and is therefore regulated under
     the NESHAP asbestos regulations that apply if this
     debris is disturbed by the state’s asbestos 
     consultant PSI.
3.  A majority of the asbestos cement demolition debris
     appears to have been land-filled. However, there are
     several hundred square feet of damaged asbestos
     cement demolition debris that are lying
     on the ground or have become partially exposed to
     the surface.
7.  The asbestos cement debris and partially buried asbestos debris no longer has the protection of
     groundcover due to the fire. Some of the larger pieces were never covered. The asbestos debris is
     more readily affected by weathering and wind. Partially buried asbestos debris is now becoming
     more exposed to the surface, creating and increasing asbestos hazards.
8.  The IDNR is aware of the presence of the massive amounts of damaged and weathered asbestos
     cement debris that covers several acres of public land. Previously landfilled demolition debris has
     emerged from the ground and surfaced; it has also eroded onto the shoreline on the eastern edge
     of the property. No steps have been taken to warn the public of these known hazards in this area.
9.  The public has not been restricted in any manner from entering this area.
10. The IDNR has contracted with an environmental consultant, PSI, to manually pick up this
      regulated asbestos debris, apparently wearing gloves, street clothing, and no respirator.
11. IDNR is apparently not using a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove the asbestos
     debris.
12. IDNR does not appear to have a NESHAP trained person onsite supervising activities while
     asbestos debris is being removed by worker(s), sidestepping union contractors to avoid paying
     union scale.
13. Asbestos debris is being removed by unsupervised personnel who are apparently not using
     appropriate personal protective equipment or following OSHA work practices.
a. Workers must have OSHA Class II training
b. Workers must have a negative exposure assessment
    (personal exposure monitoring) specific to work in this
    area. Without site-specific air monitoring, workers must
    wear respiratory protection.  Hygiene facilities must be
    available at the work site to decontaminate workers
    prior to leaving the work area.
c. OSHA requires prompt clean-up and disposal. Last
    week, asbestos debris was piled in multiple areas for  
    collection at a later date. No signage or regulated areas
    were established keeping unauthorized people out of
    the work areas.
d. OSHA requires the use of wetting agents when handling
    asbestos. Materials were handled dry last week.
e. Vehicle (gator) was not decontaminated after leaving
    the work areas.
f.  State workers and the public are exempt from OSHA
    compliance. However, the EPA enforces OSHA for public
    workers under the worker protection rule.
14.  Regulated asbestos waste is being transported in uncontainerized bags through publicly
      accessible areas by the lone environmental consultant. There is no warning sign on the vehicle
      transporting the asbestos waste.
15.  No wetting agents are used during the removal of the asbestos debris.
16.  The areas where asbestos debris is removed are not isolated from the public.
17.  The areas where asbestos debris is removed do not have appropriate warning signs.
18.  There are no decontamination facilities being utilized by the lone environmental consultant who
       is involved in the removal of friable asbestos from this area.
19.  Erosion of the shoreline has caused the asbestos cement debris to discharge into the Federal and
      State navigable waters of Lake Michigan with IDNR’s and IEPA’s knowledge.
20.  Annual beach clean-ups are allowed by IDNR along shoreline areas known to contain friable
       asbestos debris and fibers from this site, resulting in the removal of regulated asbestos by
       untrained and unsuspecting volunteers.
21.  Signage in the area does not properly warn the public of the asbestos and other safety hazards
      found in the Camp Logan area and along the shoreline.
© Copyright By Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society.  All Rights Reserved.

Regulated Asbestos is wrapped, unlabelled, in a dry condition, then left unsecured overnight.

4.  The asbestos cement debris exposed above the ground surface is severely damaged, resulting in
     asbestos fiber releases along damaged edges.
5.  The asbestos cement debris exposed above the ground surface has been exposed to weathering
     and is deteriorating on all areas of its exposed surface area. The weathering and damage has
     rendered the asbestos debris friable on exposed surface areas.
6.  A recent field burn conducted by the IDNR occurred in the former residential community where the
     asbestos cement debris was exposed on the ground surface. The fire further deteriorated the
     asbestos cement debris and also created an airborne asbestos hazard with intense updrafts during
     the burning process, exposing staff and firefighting officials to further asbestos contamination.

This dry, unlabelled, uncontainerized, and unsecured regulated asbestos waste transported through public areas of Illinois Beach State Park in the middle of the day.  This debris was later photographed in an uncontainerized and unsecure area of the IBSP Maintenance Garage area.

We are no further into solving the asbestos problem on the lakefront than the citizens of Illinois were before the IAG’s Task Force spent over $250,000 of state and federal taxpayers’ money to produce a skewed, manipulated, and doctored report. In fact, it showed that asbestos is more widespread on the Illinois shoreline than previously thought. The IAG then fobbed off responsibility on UIC for them to further downplay and attempt to cover up the seriousness of the trillions of asbestos fibers that continue to be discharged and dumped into Lake Michigan where they have washed up on the Illinois shoreline for decades.

Innocent bystanders should have been warned to leave the area during ATSDR/CDC activity-based testing. The mini bulldozer is dragging equipment that is designed to generate airborne dust! Asbestos chunks are picked up weekly on the beach, so we know there is microscopic asbestos. May 2006

Photo at the top of the page:
Commonwealth Edison/Midwest Generation Coal-Fired Power Plant
The fishing pier extends into the lake and has been shut down due to asbestos contamination. The Manville Superfund site is in the upper right corner. The IBSP Nature Preserve is just to the right of this photo.

ATSDR/CDC Activity-based Testing; Note the Wet Sand after 11 Rainy Days, No Respirator or Gloves as Required, Elevated Levels of Amphiboles were Found on Beaches after Testing, May 2006

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