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Monday, January 25, 2016

EPA Whistleblower Hits Agency on Flint

Almost forty years ago I met Hugh Kaufman, a youngish engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency in D.C. tasked with investigating toxic leaks at chemical dump sites around the USA, before that was a major national issue.   The Love Canal case was just emerging and I was particularly interested because the crime scene was in my hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y.   Kaufman was playing a key role from inside EPA in exposing, for the press and for congressmen, such as Rep. Al Gore, the dangers at Love Canal and hundreds of other sites.  I wrote about that, and him,  in a major magazine piece and then in my first book, in 1981, Truth and Consequence: Seven Who Would Not Be Silenced.

Hugh continued to raise hell from and at EPA in this realm for years, decades, without losing his job.  Somehow he is still there today.   He keeps in touch with me on some key cases--amid the friendly back and forth on his Nats vs. my Mets (he has gained new fame as the "Chicken Man" at the Nats' ballpark, but that's another story).

He has been weighing in on the Flint water poisoning crisis for some time, of course, and today he has sent me an email he has written to two Washington Post reporters, praising them for their Flint story from yesterday but trying to point them to certain troubling aspects--his usual manner.  Here it is:

Dear Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Dennis,

Kudos for your article in this mornings Washington Post on the Flint Water Contamination Case where you folks compared the Flint MI contamination case to the Love Canal NY contamination case.

I was one of the engineers who helped start the USEPA 45 years ago, and in the mid 1970's, when I was the chief investigator on Hazardous Contamination Cases at EPA, I was the EPA whistleblower on the Love Canal Contamination Case (I'm still at EPA working on Superfund and Emergency Response issues).

The Flint case is much worse than the Love Canal case.
In the Love Canal case EPA did NOT coverup contamination information to protect the financial interests of business "players" (eg. Occidental Petroleum) and politicians.

In the Flint case EPA DID coverup contamination information to protect the financial interests of business "players" (eg. American Cast Iron Pipe Company) and politicians.

Further, 40 years ago, EPA actively looked for and identified other Love Canal type cases, and took definitive action, with the support of Congress, to find and remedy other Love Canals throughout the pendency of that case and beyond.

There were numerous Congressional Hearings at the time which spurred Government at all levels on to do the right thing.

Today, EPA is NOT looking for other Environmental Justice cases like Flint, where minority populations are being poisoned in defiance of Federal laws and regulations, and there are ZERO Congressional Hearings planned.

I would respectfully encourage you folks to continue your excellent reportage on this terrible state of affairs, as the Washington Post did on the Love Canal case, and its ramifications, almost 40 years ago.

The Washington Post is credited with the term "follow the money." I respectfully request that you all consider following the money on the Flint Contamination case, as the Washington Post did on the Love Canal case, back in the 1970's.

Thanks for your consideration, Hugh Kaufman, USEPA

1 comment:

maestro said...

EPA's effectiveness is directly related to Congress. In many ways more than the White House, because Congress controls the EPA budget, not the WH.
Dems controlled Congress in the 1970s and wanted EPA to protect the public and enforce the environmental laws.
Today, the GOP controls Congress and DOESN'T want EPA to enforce the environmental laws. Especially not enforcing the environmental protection laws
in minority areas (bad for big business).