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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Commentary: Target and Superfund

I might have missed it during the Target election, but was it not one of the reasons why some opposed Target, the fact that the proposed site was adjacent to a Superfund cleanup site?

In fact proponents of the Target used language to suggest that the EPA was supportive of the project.

Regardless of those claims however, the general assertion made by proponents of the development is that there would be no problem building a Target on a location adjacent to a Superfund clean up site.

However, now we get a report in the Davis Enterprise this past Thursday, that there could be a delay because the site has to replace eight water monitoring wells that the store would be built on top of.

Now the EPA is seeking public comment on its agreement to move the eight monitoring wells. The EPA has an agreement with Target whereby Target will pay to cap the old wells and dig new ones. The Enterprise describes this agreement as "the first of its kind in the nation."

"Taking samples to determine the best place for new wells could take up to six months, although Target is aiming to get it done in three. "
And some background on the site from the Enterprise article:
"From 1972 to 1983, Frontier Fertilizer dumped pesticides onto the ground and into unlined pits near its company on Second Street in Davis.

In 1983, a dog fell into one of the pits, and soon after died of pesticide poisoning, alerting the community to the problem.

The Environmental Protection Agency declared the area a Superfund cleanup site in 1994, but since 1993, the agency has pumped and treated contaminated ground water and monitored the underground plume of contaminants. "
All of which somewhat re-opens a can of worms. But it also gets me wondering about something--we are trusting the judgment of the EPA on this issue. Is this not, George Bush's EPA? Do a quick Google on "Bush and the EPA" and it is sure to scare you more than just a little bit. The prospect of the EPA overlooking environmental concerns in order to help a business such as Target does not seem that far-fetched to me and always led me to question whether we were being told the truth during the Target campaign.

The delay has to add to such such apprehensions.

One key question is whether the new wells will work as well as the old ones.

As Pam Nieberg told the Davis Enterprise:
"They're going to have to show that the new wells give data that is as good or better than the old ones. They're trying to do it over a three-month period, but I don't know if the EPA will let them do it. (Target's) timeline still shows that they're going to do it in 2008, but I don't know if they're going to be able to meet that timeline."
These are open questions that will be answered in the coming months. In the meantime, the building of "our Target" to quote the Davis Enterprise headline, may be delayed.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting