Posts Tagged ‘epa’

Curles Neck is a huge farm out in Varina, to the East of Richmond and along the James River. An environmental struggle has been going on between the rich owners of the property, and people who grew up along that section of the James. The dispute involves an area which the owners of Curles Neck hope to privatize with a dike separating it from the James River. The opposition, including our friend Brian Siff, is against privatizing access as well as the environmental consequences of the dike contruction.

The issue is complicated by the presence of an old, deteriorated dike. But with no permit apparently on record, their is a dispute as to if this is a renewal of an old allowed dike, or an attempt to build something new.

Various government agencies have chimed in on the issue. These are some documents we have uploaded for public access containing letters from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more. Click this to check them out!

There are tidal wetlands at stake, and some evidence the scientists with good cause to advise against the construction of the dike are being silenced by financial pressure. The Curles Neck owners, Pruitt and Goodwin are both rich and influential men.  Pruitt was one of the developers of Short Pump mall, and Goodwin is a co-owner of the Jefferson Hotel and a billionaire. Their interest in creating the dike is duck hunting.

Siff, and others, also enjoy duck hunting from time to time. But they are more concerned with the environment in this instance.

This article in October in Richmond magazine is a good introduction to this issue. Hopefully Curles Neck and other small local issues can be brought into the larger picture of the corruption of wealthy people negatively affecting local policy in Richmond and surrounding areas. There is a web of the rich and powerful that connects many of the current issues that plague the non-billionaire residents. Hopefully by drawing those connections out we can make resistance a more united and strong effort.

When asked for an update on the issue, Siff said “Hopefully it is not too late! EPA and NOAA have both recommended denial of the federal permit needed. Before the Army Corps broke off communication with us they made it sound like the recommendations for denial where “pro forma ” no big deal. The VMRC hearing was a farce, bordering on illegal and maybe worse. The administrative record demonstrates this project conflicts with on going, tax payer funded, efforts to restore three threatened fish species that were once viable commercial fisheries. A major part of the Corps process, according to their own regulation, is the public interest review. There is absolutely nothing in the public interest in this project. Pure and simple, this is a land grab, achieved through manipulation of the earths surface at the expense of the environment and all that it supports. Please check the Fb page Curles Neck Creek Fresh Water Tidal Estuary Restoration.”

Megan Walker, myself (Kat McNeal) and Jonathan Cunningham compiled the following information on Norrell Elementary. I’ve included a brief summary of results, as well as links to where we found each piece of information. All of the information was publicly available when we found it (9/4/2012). This is by no means a complete picture of the situation with Norrell Elementary, as it neglects statements made by school board members, direct testimony from area parents, a complete history of the site, and many other facets. For more complete information, speak to Art Burton and Lillie Estes.Our findings establish that there were explosive levels of methane still being exuded from the dump site as late as 2006 (FEMA’s 2007 Report), that the Environmental Protection Agency lists A.V. Norrell Elementary School as an ‘active’ candidate for the National Priorities List of contaminated sites (Superfund Site Information Database), and that the conditions at Norrell stand to violate the Head Start Program’s Environmental Requirements. Additionally, despite some claims from School Board members, Parks and Recreation has never listed the school as the site of a community center or community program.The most recent environmental survey of the site available to the public was the FEMA report in 2007, reflecting conditions in 2006. There exist no more recent investigations available to the public online.

These sources, and the absence of more recent data, suggest that the dangers of Norrell have not been addressed in any way since its closing in 2006. Beyond the obvious physical dangers of the site, which were very much present in 2006 with no evidence that they have been resolved since, Richmond Public Schools could stand to lose Head Start funding should conditions violating the requirements be rediscovered

The following report includes a description of, and select quotes from, the source materials.

FEMA’s 2007 Report