Aug 28, 2014

GAC Chemical: Documents show DEP did not test waste site before declaring it safe.

Group asks Attorney general's office to investigate allegations of attempted deception by DEP official.

SEARSPORT State officials took no samples and made no tests before concluding earlier this year that highly acidic industrial wastes eroding into Stockton Harbor in Searsport pose no threat to people, pets, or wildlife.

This according to documents released to Friends of Penobscot Bay under the Maine Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) by Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Eastern Maine Regional Office director Susanne Miller.  (Summary of documents and list of persons mentioned in them.)

According to FOPB, Miller polled all DEP bureaus on their oversight of GAC Chemical. “Result? Not a single DEP staffer has GAC's eroding shoreline waste dumps on their plate", said Ron Huber of Friends of Penobscot Bay. "No one has tested anything there. Miller's claims that all's fine with GAC's toxic erosion is a bunch of hot air." he said. "In short, the empress has no clothes."

"Has discovery of this lack of oversight stimulated action by Maine DEP? Yes, but seeming only to cover up. Not deal with it."

Huber said people need not wonder why the LePage administration is sanctioning the ongoing poisoning of a harbor cove and all the people who innocently fish, clam, dig worms and beachcomb there.

"It appears that polluter GAC Chemical Corp's CEO David Colter is simply too cheap to order a reasonable clean up of the company's legacy mess," Huber said. "Maybe he's concerned about shareholder blowback for "wasting" company money on nature." 

"But," he continued, "with his political connections to the Blaine House, that's one form of waste that Mr. Colter need not worry about."
Not all in DEP are unhappy with that. DEP's Eastern Maine Regional director Susanne Miller also seems an enthusiastic supporter of polluter-coddling and an opponent of transparency in government

"Miller is one of those revolving-door industry officials hired by DEP Commissioner Patty Aho to weaken the agency on behalf of big industry", Huber said. "Forcing GAC to face its pollution woes and pay to remediate them would be a black mark against her when she returns to her former employer Hitachi Corp or elsewhere in industrial consultant-land. So instead of the transparency needed to get the company to be accountable for his wastes, Miller chooses opacity as a way to let GAC Chemical pollute in peace."

Worst of all, Huber said, Miller is abusing the state's Freedom of Access Act. "She repeatedly lied about her phone logs when we asked for them under the Act. She finally produced a small number of cellphone call records, and has now admitted that there are more groundline phone records that she failed to disclose.  If we can't trust Miller to be truthful when responding to a FOAA request, how can we trust her word on anything she's doing?"

FOPB has asked the Attorney General's office to investigate Miller's deceptions and determine if she "willfully" violated the act. See attached copy of email  While the fine is small and would be paid by the department, not by Miller, Huber said, "we hope that the agency will transfer her to another job where she won't be such a threat to nature - and to democracy."

Friends of Penobscot Bay: People who care about Maine's biggest bay.