February 1, 1985

Subject:     Review of EPA Inspector General's Report of Ocean Incineration Permit Issued to
                 Waste Management Inc.

From:       William Sanjour and Hugh B. Kaufman

    The attached report from the EPA Inspector General (IG) shows that an EPA permit to Chemic Waste Management Inc. (CWM) to incinerate PCBs was tampered with by some unknown person at EPA. We have estimated that the unauthorized change in the permit was worth several hundred thousand dollars to CWM. Nevertheless the IG's report ends the investigation without finding out who made the change, why it was made, and the results of the change. Furthermore, the IG treats the whole subject as an administrative mix-up rather than a potential criminal action.

    The facts which we feel are relevant, from the attached report are summarized below.

  • Hooker Chemical Corporation engaged CWM to dispose of about 40,000 gallons of leachate from the Hyde Park Landfill (p 3).
  • Hooker was aware of the presence of dioxin in the leachate and so informed CWM (p. 5).
  • EPA did not intend to issue a permit to CWM to incinerate dioxin (p. 5).
  • The permit EPA intended to issue was for "trichlorobenzene, kerosene, pump oils and PCBs", however some unknown person added three words to the list of substances so that the permit issued to CWM was for "trichlorobenzene, kerosene, pump oils, PCB's and other organic components" (p. 3).

  • This change was not authorized by EPA management (p. 4).

  • This change allowed CWM to incinerate dioxin contaminated wastes which was not intended by EPA (p. 4).
  •     The IG's report, however, does not identify whether or how much CWM may have benefitted from this change. In fact the market value for incinerating PCBs in 1981 was about five dollars a gallon. 700,000 gallons were incinerated under that permit of which 40,000 gallons were known to contain dioxin and the rest was untested. Therefore the change in the permit was worth a minimum of about $200,00 to CWM and a maximum of about $3.5 million.

        The report treats the entire matter as an administrative mix-up and it suggests the solution is to improve administrative procedures. It does not answer or attempt to answer any of the basic questions it was charged with answering on page one, i.e. why the changes were made, who made them, and what effect they had.

        Nevertheless the cover memo says that they have completed their review.

    William Sanjour's home page

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