On Marco Island: Independent Reporting, Documenting Government Abuses, Exposing the Syndicate, Historical Records of Crimes Against the Environment

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

EPA Releases More Documents: Violations Evident

As part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA has just produced another approximately 200 pages of documents. This new set of documents covers primarily the dumping of effluent into the waterways and the release of hydrogen sulfide gas into neighborhoods.

This is the second production of documents made available as part of the FOIA lawsuit. The first production of documents consisted of approximately 500 pages as reported on this blog on June 23, 20101 and dealt mostly with the asbestos contamination.

These documents6 prove that the city2 violated federal law.

Executive Summary

  1. The city pumps raw untreated effluent from their dewatering efforts directly into the waterways, and releases hydrogen sulfide gas into neighborhoods.
  2. Citizens complain.
  3. Moss/Joel claim that the city has a permit to discharge untreated effluent into the waterways.
  4. Activist citizens contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the EPA to demonstrate that the city has no such permit.4
  5. Moss/Joel claim that the city's standard storm-water runoff permit suffices.
  6. FDEP, under pressure from the EPA, issue a Notice of Violation (technically, a letter of Non-Compliance).
  7. City attorney argues that the storm-water runoff permit suffices.
  8. FDEP (under pressure) and EPA disagree.
  9. City claims that pumping has stopped. Evidence sent to the EPA proves otherwise.
  10. City then applies for Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water permit
    which the FDEP summarily grants.5
  11. EPA notifies FDEP that the effluent being pumped into the waterways by city requires a federal NPDES (Clean Water Act) permit because the just-granted discharge permit is insufficient and inappropriate.
  12. FDEP and city ignore notice – continue pumping.

Violations of the Laws

Given the pervasive corruption in Florida (ergo the statewide grand jury), municipal vice and malfeasance is not illegal.

But what is certain is that the FDEP was required to demand from the city that a NPDES permit be obtained before any pumping of effluent into the waters from the dewatering was started. The city, under cover from the FDEP continued to discharge the effluent into the waterways despite being ordered to stop. When the mess was exposed the EPA clearly stated that a NPDES permit was required. The required NPDES permit was never obtained. The city and the FDEP violated the federal Clean Water Act.

As to the release of toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide gas into populated areas, it is unclear at this time if the EPA will pursue and enforcement action, as it appears that given the subterfuge being spun by the FDEP, they (the EPA) believed that the hydrogen sulfide being referred to by the citizens was the hydrogen sulfide suffused in the effluent, and not the one being released into the air. If true, this would imply that the EPA was incosiderate of the documents they were being provided with since the agency is in possession of myriad documents with airborne hydrogen sulfide gas readings.

Details of Interest

Evident in the documents is that this whole mess became very troubling for the EPA because the agency believed that the FDEP was simply "not vigilant". Then later it becomes obvious that in fact the FDEP was complicit in the illegal discharge because (in but one example) they claimed to the EPA that the effluent discharge into the waterways was not going to occur, and then once the dumping of effluent into the waterways was exposed it also became apparent that the toxicity levels far exceeded the allowed parameters.

What is known from piecing together previously available documents and photographic evidence is that Moss/Joel were disingenuous when they claimed that the pumping of effluent into the waterways had stopped or that the city had permits or that the odor was inexistent (the deceptions are many). This is not new. But also stitched together from several sources is that the FDEP alerted Moss/Joel as to when investigators were coming to Marco Island so that the pumps could be shut off before the investigators arrived hence deceiving them into believing that no pumping was occurring. There are even documents that have city operatives on a conference call with the FDEP/EPA proclaiming that no pumping of effluent into the waterways was occurring while the EPA was at the same time receiving via email photographs (with embedded GPS-generated time and latitude/longitude coordinates) and videos showing that the pumping was in fact occurring as they were speaking.

One of the salient communiqués proving that the city, in conjunction with the FDEP violated federal law:

Based upon my conversation with [redacted] of the NPDES Permit Section3, a permit is needed for the discharge to U.S. Waters. [redacted] felt that the Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water from any Non-Contaminated Site Activity did not apply since the discharge was previously found to be toxic to the juvenile shrimp species.

It is imperative to reiterate the above verbatim quote from two EPA investigators: the Generic Permit for the Discharge of Produced Ground Water permit summarily granted by the FDEP to the city when the storm-water runoff permit ruse was exposed WAS NOT VALID. Scrambling to show some permit so as to further the hoax camouflaged in the purposeful confusion, a permit from the South Florida Water Management District was obtained, which is also decried in the documents are utterly irrelevant. The FDEP and the city were so informed but Moss/Joel continued pumping.

As noted in another communiqué, a "criminal lead" was opened by the EPA. And in yet another email, EPA investigators ridicule Joel and the city attorney for suggesting that the standard storm-water runoff permit somehow covers the discharge of non-storm toxic effluent into U.S. waters.

The Obfuscation

Lying to the EPA, the conspiracy to hide the illegal dewatering, the slander and making disparaging remarks by certain current and former city employees as well as by the FDEP was known to activists at the time the environmental crimes were being committed, but now the documents bear proof.

In but one email exchange within the EPA, one agent writes to the other

"This statement is not true: 'The email we got from the EPA says everything looks real good, but please take care of these two things'."

Also of note is that while the FDEP was in essence running cover for the city, they were busy sending disparaging and making scurrilous remarks about the residents of Marco Island that dared to complain about the illegal discharge or about the toxic fumes. This tactic of denigrating concerned citizens is an endemic practice by the syndicate, but now we learn that it was well orchestrated by current and former city councilors and "staff". As in but one example, there is an email from the FDEP to the EPA where Marco Island citizens are disparaged is nearly identical words and substance to the statement given by Moss (and another undisclosed city operative) to FBI agent Matt Chester, and indistinguishable to the aspersions used by city councilors and their handlers in the syndicate.


The content can be validated by reviewing the 700+ pages of documents turned over by the EPA, as well as by correlating to city emails and documents released by the FDEP.6

But where does one go from here?

The EPA has acknowledged that the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been violated. Since the FDEP did not enforce the law, as they are required to do as related to the CWA, the EPA will step in to prosecute/enforce the law only if it is sued to do so – oddly enough, a relatively common occurrence. In the unlikely event that the EPA does act, this time around the city cannot throw Quality Enterprises under the proverbial bus since Moss/Joel took a hands-on approach to directing what is now known to be the illegal discharge. (Who can forget Joel's Rube Goldberg contraption to "scrub" the toxic effluent and filter out the hydrogen sulfide gas – it actually made matters worse.)

No one on Marco Island is going to sue the EPA. One lone soul has sued the EPA and is forever finished.

The FDEP clearly want this matter to be buried (pun intended as to how they were also complicit in the asbestos contamination) lest they themselves be prosecuted (unlikely given how Florida works).

Those responsible for lying, violating the federal Clean Water Act, making despicable remarks about Marco Island citizens, polluting the environment and harming the health of countless citizens must be censured and prosecuted. Herein is the roadmap in case anyone cares.


References & Notes:

2 Hereafter when referring to violations or other illegal acts, the "city" actually refers to the current and former employees, and current and former city councilors, and their handlers in the syndicate that participated in the violations, illegal acts and cover-up. Namely a handful of individuals.

3 The NPDES is a section of the federal Clean Water Act that mandates that a special permit be requested for discharging into U.S. waters. See http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/

4 At this point the activists were not aware that the FDEP was conspiring with the city or that it was making disparaging remarks about the citizens of Marco Island. Once this fact was realized, the activists ceased communicating with the FDEP and with the department's insider at the city, Lisa Douglass.

5 It is interesting to note, and unbeknownst to the activists up until the release of these documents, that the city's test for mercury in the effluent being dumped into the waterways was rejected by the authorities, yet there are no documents where the correct testing for mercury was ever done. It is possible that this too was "overlooked" by the FDEP.

6 All 700+ pages are at http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com. ibid the FDEP and City of Marco Island produced emails.


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