Martha Reclamation Program: Dump and Run

Toxic Soup: Ashland's Radioactive Sludge Pits

Toxic Soup: Radiation at Blaine Elementary School

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smile, You're on Candid Camera Ashland Oil

On January 6, 2010 we wrote a blog about how the court in the Cantrell v. Ashland case disallowed the plaintiff’s videotape of Ashland’s contractors polluting a creek with liquid pumped from a radioactive sludge pit that they were contracted to clean up.  The jury never got to see what Ashland was doing in the name of “remediation.”  Well, thanks to a mysterious benefactor, the videotape is on the web and we all can see what the jury was not allowed to see.

First, a bit of background.  Ashland Oil negotiated an agreement with the state of Kentucky to identify and clean up radioactive sites in the Martha Oil Field.  An instance of this “remediation” was filmed in 1996 and was submitted as evidence in the Cantrell v. Ashland court case in which the plaintiffs sued Ashland for damages to their property.  The court did not allow this tape to be shown to the jury for several reasons listed here.

We can see the videotape here.  Here is what’s happening on the video:

0:04 – 0:15       Shows the extent of the sludge pit.  What a mess.
0:15 – 0:26       This is the waste line running from the sludge pit to the creek.
0:38                 A worker holding some kind of instrument
0:50                 This is the intake to the waste line that runs to the creek
0:59                 Check out the red “Danger” tape around the sludge pit
1:14 – 1:31      A backhoe loads some radioactive soil into a truck to be hauled away
1:31                 Shows a view of the creek

The court thought this tape would be prejudicial, so they disallowed it.  Remember, this is a clean up at just one remediation site.  Think about this clean up happening hundreds of times under one of the following possible scenarios:
-         The remediation efforts have specific procedures that:
o       Encourage dumping radioactive liquids from the cleanup site into creeks; or
o       Prohibit dumping radioactive liquids from the cleanup site into creeks, but the workers did it anyway; or
-         The remediation efforts do not have specific procedures of how to dispose of radioactive liquids from the cleanup site, so the workers improvised.

Any one of these scenarios results in a radioactive creek, so you see why the land owners are suing for property damages and don’t believe that the cleanup has been done properly.  Anyone think this property has been damaged?  How about that creek?  How about whatever is downstream?  Hopefully no cattle were drinking out of that creek.

Ashland, clean up your mess, again and again!

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