Dear New River Valley Neighbor,
Last winter you received a health survey from our New River Valley Sierra Group. We appreciate the time you took to answer our questions and tell us about your environmental health concerns. The results of the survey were tallied and passed on to the Virginia Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The ATSDR is doing their own study of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, but they have not released any results as of this time. Unfortunately, their study is limited to the review of existing data, not the active collecting of independant data.
After conducting the survey, our group chose five wells that circled the RAAP and tested the water. An environmental consultant advised us on which substances to look for, and the samples were sent to an independent, certified lab for testing. Most of the funds for this were granted to us by the state Sierra Chapter. We were happy to find that none of these chemicals, including perchlorate, were found at levels of concern. Most were non-detectable. While this is great news, it is important to keep in mind that five samples is a very small sample size, from which it is statistically impossible to draw sweeping conclusions.
Since then, we have turned our attention to the emissions from the RAAP’s Open Burning Grounds. These are clay pans on which the RAAP burns thousands of pounds of material that can’t be put through their incinerators. While the RAAP “reports” the emissions from the burning, the measurements are based on computer models, not actual emissions testing. We are hoping to have independent testing performed in order to find out what substances citizens are actual breathing downwind of the RAAP.
If you are concerned about the substances the RAAP is releasing into the air and water, you can help by expressing your concerns to the Virginia Department of Health. It would be particularly helpful if you would notify them if you notice harsh odors in the air or see any suspicious substances in your household water or on the New River. The VHD district office for our area is located in at the Montgomery County Health Department, 540-440-2188.
Again, we would like to thank you for participating in our survey. If you would like to comment further, please leave a comment on our web site (go to nrvsierraclub.com, click on “Get Involved, then “Leave a Comment”), or attend one of our meetings, held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Lucie Monroe’s Coffee Shop, Gatewood Plaza, Business 460 in Christiansburg.
The New River Valley Sierra Group