[ RadSafe ] Houston TV Report that Texas drinking water makes pipes and plumbing radioactive
rwhelbig at gmail.com
Tue Aug 23 06:59:50 CDT 2011
The latest on the Abolition-Caucus - they seem to think that all things
radioactive must also be eliminated in addition to nuclear weapons - I was
intrigued when the editor in chief of the supposed scientific journal
Environmental Health: A Global Science Source that published the Rita
Hindin, Doug Brugge and a grad student research piece that still is often
cited as evidence that Uranium is Teratogenetic - Hindin has left the field
of epidemiology and is now a chef and her crown jewel research piece was
heavily influenced by the Trap Rock Peace Center's former directors Charles
Jenks and Sunny Miller in addition to being peer-reviewed by none other than
Christopher Busby and a Swiss anti-nuclear associate of his who I believe is
now deceased - does anyone know anything about Public health scientists Dr.
David Ozonoff, of Boston University who has conveniently managed to be cited
by the TV news persons who did this story in Houston, Texas?
*Teratogenicity of depleted uranium aerosols: A review from an
*Rita Hindin* <http://www.ehjournal.net/registration/technical.asp?process=default&msg=ce>,
*Doug Brugge* <http://www.ehjournal.net/registration/technical.asp?process=default&msg=ce>and
*Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source* 2005, *4:*
From: Alice Slater <aslater at rcn.com> (notice the wide range of lists that
Alice Slater forwards to)
Date: Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 3:00 AM
Subject: [abolition-caucus] FW: [CTSOS] Texas drinking water makes pipes and
To: abolition-usa at yahoogroups.com, bananas at ananuclear.drizzlehosting.com,
abolition-caucus <abolition-caucus at yahoogroups.com>
Alice Slater (does anyone know if Ms Slater is paid staff or just a prolific
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY****
446 East 86 St.****
New York, NY 10028****
*From:* CTSOS at yahoogroups.com [mailto:CTSOS at yahoogroups.com] *On
Behalf Of *Remy
*Sent:* Monday, August 22, 2011 8:38 PM
*To:* no-new-nukes-yall at yahoogroups.com; ctsos at yahoogroups.com
*Subject:* [CTSOS] Texas drinking water makes pipes and plumbing radioactive
*Texas drinking water makes pipes and plumbing radioactive *****
by Mark Greenblatt / KHOU 11 News****
May 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM****
HOUSTON—Radiation has contaminated the underground pipes, water tanks, and
plumbing that provide drinking water for much of Central Texas and the famed
Texas Hill Country, according to concerned city officials in the region who
have tested the pipes with Geiger counters.
According to local officials, the contamination comes from years of exposure
to drinking water that already tests over federal legal limits for
radioactive radium. Of even more concern, they say, is that any water
quality testing is done before the water runs through the contaminated pipes
that could be adding even more radiation.
“It’s a serious concern,” City of Brady Manager James Minor said. “These
pipes have so much radioactivity in them, metal recycling places refer to
them as they’re ‘hot.’”
Minor said the city made the discovery when it recently dug up older steel
water pipes from the ground in an attempt to r! eplace them. When the city
brought the older pipes to a local recycling scrap yard, the scrap yard
turned them away as “too radioactive” to recycle.
“It just brings lots of questions to my mind as far as, what’s that doing to
the people drinking it,” he said, referring to the water that flows through
Minor said he is speaking out in an attempt to do the right thing on behalf
of his citizens, and those who live in the region.
“This is a regional problem for 40 to 50 other communities,” he said. “This
is a huge problem. We just happen to be the one standing here in front of
the camera talking about it.”
City of Brady officials spoke openly about the issue after being contacted
by KHOU 11 News. The call was prompted by internal documents from the Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality, which identified a main source of the
region’s water as radium contaminated. The TCEQ had ini! tially refused to
release the paper after a public-records request, and only did so under
order from the Attorney General of Texas.
The white paper<http://images.bimedia.net/documents/TNRCC+White+Paper+for+review.pdf>,
titled “Implementing the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for
Radionuclides,” was an internal assessment of the threat posed from
radiation in Texas water, and was prompted by new federal regulations the
Environmental Protection Agency adopted on Dec. 7, 2000. The Texas report
states “over 200,000 Texans drink water from public water systems which are
contaminated with relatively high levels of radium and other naturally
occurring radioactive material.”
The state paper names the Hickory Aquifer as one of the most contaminated in
Texas, and says, “without a feasible means to treat the drinking water and
manage the residuals, the Hickory Aquifer would become unusa! ble as a
public drinking water source.”
The Hickory Aquifer is the main water source for much of the Texas Hill
Country and communities in central Texas that depend on groundwater.
The paper, dated in 2001 but worked on through 2004 according to other TCEQ
documents, says some of the affected water systems in Texas contain water so
contaminated that it that would produce an additional cancer for every 400
persons. Federal regulations allow for cancer risks to be no more than an
additional cancer for every 10,000 persons.
It concludes by saying, “The staff of Public Drinking Water, Underground
Injection Control and Radioactive Waste, Toxicology and Risk Assessment, and
Legal have reviewed this issue. They have determined that there is a human
health concern associated with radionuclides in some drinking water systems
Ralph Carlisle, the manager of a regional scrap yard called Brady Recycling,
says he doesn’t have! to read the white
know just how serious a risk the water poses. Carlisle keeps a Geiger
counter on hand to protect his business from contaminated metals. He says 3
out of 4 water tanks, pipes, or other metal exposed to Hill Country drinking
water are too radioactive for him to accept.
He tests the metal with a Geiger counter to prevent fines from plants he
contracts with to melt the metals down. Carlisle says if he sends out metals
that test positive for radiation contamination, the fines are steep.
“Sales of bottled water are what we’d want to invest in around here,” he
said. “Get a stock market and you’d make a killing.”
Carlisle says that he does not allow his employees or family to drink the
area tap water, because of what he sees every day on the job, and remains
concerned about the impact o! n children in the area.
“A child you can tell 40 times a day not to drink that water, and he’ll
(still) do it,” he said. “Adults, we know: drink at your own risk.”
Public health scientists Dr. David Ozonoff, of Boston University, and Dr.
Joshua Hamilton have previously told KHOU11 News that most dangers from
radium in drinking water do not come from physical contact with it, but
rather, from the ingestion of the radionuclides into the body.
Carlisle uses a Geiger counter that only documents radiation that is
concentrated enough to produce an energy that travels through the air. He
does not test the inside of the water pipes for radiation, to test the area
where drinking water flows directly through on its way to area homes.
“I’m sure every region has got its own, you know, certain things they check
more. Ours tends to be water and old pipe which could have been used for
water,” he said.
He sus! pects that radium, which naturally seeks calcium, is accumulating on
the inside of the area’s steel water pipes in areas where there is calcium
“You think of the things that made it radioactive, and it’s probably years
of somebody drinking that water,” he said.
Carlisle says water tanks from people with private wells in the region,
which are not required to be tested for radiation contamination in their
water, have the same problems and mostly have to be rejected as well. He
says he’s seen the problems from public and private tanks ranging from just
north of Fredericksburg to near Junction.
KHOU: "More often than not, most water tanks in this region, you literally
Carlisle: "I can’t."
KHOU: "Too much radiation?"
Carlisle: "Too much radiation."
KHOU: "So much that you as a recycling business will have to turn awa! y the
Carlisle: "I have to turn away the business…I can’t accept it; there is no
one who can."
State tests of drinking water from regional public-water systems that take
water from the Hickory reveal nearly every community is in violation of
federal EPA limits for radium. The limit is set at 5 picocuries per liter of
a combination of two types of radium. The City of Brady has individual wells
that have tested three times above that limit. Nearby “North San Saba” has
tested more than four times the EPA limit for radium. The public water
system for “Millersview” has wells that have tested 11 times the limit for
Of important note: the North San Saba water district provides water from a
different water supply that feeds portions of San Saba county, while the
City of San Sa! ba provides water to city residents. The city of San Saba is
not in any way in violation of EPA accepted levels of radium and is
currently seeking a “superior” water quality rating with TCEQ.****
“What these data show are the amount of radionuclides in our water are so
high that they could cause cancer, birth defects or kidney disease,” said
Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.
“Study after study has indicated these are real threats,” he said.
Smith expressed concern about the lack of state action in response to its
own white paper<http://images.bimedia.net/documents/TNRCC+White+Paper+for+review.pdf>,
and the attempt to prevent its release to KHOU 11 News.
“What we see is a pattern and practice at TCE! Q of covering up unfavorable
data,” he said.****
Devane Clark, a radiation specialist with TCEQ’s radioactive materials
division, said the TCEQ had heard of similar radioactive pipes being created
from oil and gas drilling in the state. However, he said state regulators
were previously unaware it could also take place from exposure to drinking
Clark reviewed video of the measurements taken from the Brady Recycling yard
and said, “This would be cause for concern, yes.”
When told that people in the region are concerned about drinking water from
the pipes, Clark said, “I understand their concern and I think it should be
Clark said that in the oil and gas industry, a similar radioactive “pipe
scale” would not easily come loose from sticking to the inside of the pipe
it! self to get into the water people actually consume.
When presented with a photograph of the rusted condition of Brady’s current
underground water pipes, Clark agreed those pipes in particular did not
appear to be of a solid or “stable” nature, and suggested anyone who has
concerns about drinking radioactive materials should install a point of use
water filter such as a reverse-osmosis system in their home.
KHOU 11 News also spoke with Elston Johnson, who manages the public drinking
water division of the TCEQ.
During an on-camera interview, Johnson said, he too, had never heard of
radioactive water pipes until now.
“Well, we need to look into it. This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he
When asked why the state had not done more to investigate the region’s
contamination problems, considering the state’s own scientists documented
the threat in detail, Johnson claimed to have never seen t! he white
KHOU: "This white
(for) communities taking water out of the Hickory aquifer, without
filtering it for radiation, the drinking water would be unusable (if it
came) out of the Hickory."
JOHNSON: "OK I’m not familiar with that, so…"
KHOU: "But I sent this ahead of time. Long before I’m sitting here today."
KHOU: "Have you not reviewed this paper?"
JOHNSON: "I don’t know what you’re talking about, haven’t seen it."
In fact, after the interview, KHOU! uncovered a letter that Johnson
last year where he was forwarding the very same white
outside review to the Texas Radiation Advisory Board, along with four
top drinking water and radiation specialists internal to TCEQ.
KHOU 11 News’ attempts over the last several weeks to follow up on the
discrepancy with Johnson and TCEQ officials have gone unanswered.
That said, City of Brady Manager James Minor says that officials from TCEQ
have recently been out to visit the region and independently documented the
same radiological problems with their own Geiger counter.
Minor says that he is not personally interested in looking back or asking
questions about why more was not done sooner, but wants h! elp for his
citizens and neighbors in the region. Minor says the city’s entire
underground system of steel pipes likely needs to be replaced with something
that is not metal.
He said the pipes he brought out of the ground to show KHOU had only been in
the ground for four or five years. Minor says the vast majority of the
city’s distribution pipes have been there for 30 to 40 years.
“For a community of this size, with the financial problems we have that’s a
real burden. So I’m looking for other areas of funding,” he said.
The TCEQ’s Devane Clark notes that typically a Geiger counter is not
sensitive enough to pick up radiation from drinking water itself, even if
the water contains enough radiation to exceed the federal legal limit by
Typically, state or federal labs use much more sensitive detection
instruments than a Geiger counter to find radionuclides that may be present
in America’! ;s water supply. For that reason, Clark notes, for a Geiger
counter to be able to detect the radiation in the pipes, he believes it must
be building up in amounts hundreds, or even thousands of times the federal
legal limit for drinking water that is consumed regularly. Clark said the
amounts are still well below what is found in oil and gas wells.
To view extended clips of the Geiger counter readings from various types of
metal in Central Texas and the Hill Country, just click on the related links
attached to this story.****
Texas politicians knew agency hid the amount of radiation in drinking water
by Mark Greenblatt / KHOU 11 News****
Posted on May 19, 2011 at 9:17 AM****
HOUSTON— Newly-released e-mails
<http://images.bimedia.net/documents/tceq+emails.pdf>from the Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency’s top commissioners
directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of
federal EPA rules.
The e-mails and documents, released under order from the Texas Attorney
General to KHOU-TV, also show the agency was attempting to help water
systems get out of formally violating federal limits for radiation in
drinking water. Without a formal violation, the water systems did not have
to inform their residents of the increased health risk.
“It’s a conspiracy at the TCEQ of the highest order,” said Tom Smith, of the
government watchdog group Public Citizen. “The documents have indicted the
management of this commission in a massive cover-up to convince people that
our water is safe to drink when ! it’s not.”
Smith is talking about what happened to residents who live in communities
served by utilities like Harris County Municipal Utility District 105. For
years, tests performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services
showed the utility provided water that exceeded the EPA legal limit for
exposure to alpha radiation.
However, the TCEQ would consistently subtract off each test’s margin of
error from those results, making the actual testing results appear lower
than they actually were. In MUD 105’s case, the utility was able to avoid
violations for nearly 20 years, thanks to the TCEQ subtractions.
On Dec. 7, 2000, the EPA
in the federal register that states should not add or subtract the margin of
error, also called the counting error, from test results.
In an e-! mail from Oct. 30,
a TCEQ drinking water team leader began questioning a senior director about
if it would be appropriate for the state agency to stop subtracting the
counting error from test results to comply with all federal regulations.
She was told, “I believe there may been some EPA guidance on not
subtracting, but can’t remember back that far for sure. This has been the
practice in Texas since day one of radionuclide monitoring. This option was
thoroughly discussed with the commissioners and the (executive director)
staff when the reg was being adopted. We were directed to maintain the
current methodology for subtracting the counting error at that time.”
Three years earlier, the same TCEQ director presented written testimony on
behalf of the TCEQ<http://images.bimedia.net/documents/TCEQ+testimony+to+TWAC+June+2004.pdf>to
the Texas Water Advisory Council. The testimony notes that the TCEQ
aware of the new rules ! the EPA published on Dec. 7, 2000, saying the
federal agency had “issued guidance for calculating radionuclide levels for
However, the TCEQ also told the Council: “Under existing TCEQ policy,
calculation of the violation accounts for the reporting error of each
radionuclide analysis. Maintaining this calculation procedure will eliminate
approximately 35 violations.”
As a result, the subtracting method continued and residents of MUD 105, like
Brenda Haynes, were never sent a required notice of violation. That notice
would have informed them about the excessive alpha radiation in their water.
Alpha radiation is emitted from radionuclides such as uranium and radium.
While health scientists have said it poses little danger if someone is
externally exposed to it, the experts maintain that ingesting even the
smallest amount of the particles can cause damage to DNA, and in rare cases,
Haynes came down wi! th thyroid cancer while living in the MUD 105 district
and continued drinking the water even after she was diagnosed. Although she
will never know for certain if the water had any connection with her
illness, Haynes and her husband are angry that they never were given
appropriate notice about the added risks she was taking into her body while
“We were put at more risk than what we thought,” said Ian Haynes, who added
he and his wife would have been making different choices about what they
consumed had they been warned.
The Texas Water Advisory Council, which reviewed and discussed the TCEQ
a meeting on June 7, 2004, was comprised of some of the highest ranking
public officials in Texas. Minutes from the TWAC’s annual report reveal that
the members present that day to hear about TCEQ’s plan included then-chair
of the TCEQ Commission Ka! thleen Hartnett White, then-Agriculture
Commissioner Susan Combs, General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson,
Sen. Robert Duncan, and other lawmakers and state leaders.
The I-Team sought comment from Sen. Duncan, then the chair of the Council,
but he did not return KHOU-TV’s phone calls.
A spokesperson for Commissioner Patterson wrote KHOU-TV to say, “I’ve
checked with Commissioner Patterson and sent him the report and he doesn’t
remember “squat” about that committee,” wrote press secretary Jim Suydam.
“He won’t be calling you.”
Commissioner Combs has since left her position in the Department of
Agriculture and become the state’s comptroller. She also declined to speak
personally with KHOU in regards to this meeting.
However a spokesperson sent the following to KHOU on her behalf:
“Comptroller Combs hasn’t been the Agricultural Commissioner for 4.5 years.
Susan&! #8217;s role on the advisory council back then was to represent
rural Texas, primarily on water issues (drought, water rights). SB 2 which
established the water advisory council was to look (at) water issues facing
the state, it had no regulatory authority. The state experienced severe
droughts in 1998, 2000 and 2004-2006. The issue you are talking about was
handled by the TCEQ.”
However, a review of a meeting summary from the June 7, 2004 Texas Water
Combs asked several questions during the meeting, including a number of
questions about issues involving TCEQ’s implementation of the new EPA rules
The meeting summary says that “Commissioner Combs stated small towns are
going broke,” and further says, “Commissioner Combs asked what! would the
feds do if the state didn’t
The minutes indicate that someone at the meeting said there would be federal
enforcement and loss of primacy.****
At the same meeting, the summary says that the EPA had already warned that
if Texas didn’t implement the rules, the EPA might take over the regulation
of Texas water systems. The notes say that as a result “Texas will lose $66
million if delegation of the drinking water program is lost.”
But despite the EPA’s warning in June of 2004 of potential loss of primacy,
by December, the Texas Water Advisory Council issued its annual
the then-speaker of the House, the lieutenant governor, and Gov. Rick
Perry, saying: “However, this result (the loss of primacy) is unlikely. Of
the 49 states with primary enforcement responsibility to administer their
dri! nking water programs (Wyoming is not a primacy state), EPA has never
withdrawn primacy status from any of them because the federal agency views
both withdrawing primacy and withdrawing funding as options of last resort.”
Under federal law Texas and other states are only allowed to enforce EPA
rules, according to the Safe Drinking Water Act, if the EPA determines the
state has adopted drinking water standards that are “no less stringent” than
the federal rules.
After the annual report of the TWAC was delivered to the Speaker, Lieutenant
Governor, and the Governor, the TCEQ continued their policy of subtracting
the margin of error from the result of each water-radiation test, until an
EPA audit caught them doing so in 2008. The state has since complied with
the EPA regulation.
Then Chair of the TCEQ Commission Kathleen Hartnett White, who also sat on
the Texas Water Advisory Council, says the decision to continue the
subtraction was a goo! d one.
“As memory serves me, that made incredibly good sense,” she told KHOU.
White says she and the scientists with the Texas Radiation Advisory Board
disagreed with the science that the EPA based its new rules on. She says the
new rules were too protective and would end up costing small communities
tens of millions of dollars to comply.
“We did not believe the science of health effects justified EPA setting the
standard where they did,” said White. She added, “I have far more trust in
the vigor of the science that TCEQ assess, than I do EPA.”
In response to questions about why the TCEQ did not simply file a lawsuit
against the EPA and challenge the federal rules openly in court, White said
that in federal court, “Legal challenges, because of law and not because of
science, are almost impossible to win.”
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst did not respond to written questions related to
this story. Th! e only comment from his office came from a spokesperson who
wrote: “Just FYI—I’m told by our legislative staff that Texas Water Advisory
Council was created in 2001, but was repealed in 2007. Evidently, the
statutes creating the council made it clear that that it was an advisory
board only, so they made no decisions.”
A spokesperson for Governor Perry said the governor expects the TCEQ and all
state agencies to follow all the laws that are on the books, which the
spokesperson said the TCEQ began doing after that 2008 audit by the EPA. ***
The governor’s spokesperson did not respond to written questions from KHOU
asking if the governor supported the TCEQ’s decision in 2004 to continue
with the subtraction in order to help 35 water systems stay out of trouble.
The EPA was contacted for comment and at press time has yet to provide any
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